According to some estimates, medical mistakes lead to 210,000 deaths per year in the United States. Many more patients experience medical mistakes that are not deadly. If you think you've been the victim of medical malpractice, it's important to take action by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party. Not only will this allow you to collect compensation for your injuries, but the more people who stand up and file lawsuits after being victimized, the more awareness will be raised about medical malpractice.
Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit can be complicated. Read on to learn a bit more about the process, so you know what to expect along the way.
What constitutes medical malpractice?
In order for a health care professional's actions to be considered medical malpractice, that person must have behaved negligently. Negligence is a legal terms that indicates that a person has failed to extend the care that a reasonable, prudent person would have in the given situation. In other words, if a doctor or other healthcare provider deviated from what is considered standard practice when treating a certain ailment or injury, he or she could be considered negligent.
For example, consider a patient who comes into the hospital with a 104 degree F fever, trouble breathing, chest pain, and coughing that brings up blood. These are classic symptoms of pneumonia, so it would seem a prudent physician would have the patient tested for pneumonia and then subsequently treated according to the diagnosis. If the doctor simply sends the patient home and tells them to take cough medicine, and the person dies as a result, that doctor would be considered negligent.
It's important to realize that not every case in which a person does not recover as expected is considered medical negligence. In the example above, had the doctor tested and treated the patient for pneumonia, only to have them pass away anyways, then the doctor would not be at fault as long as they properly administered the standard treatments for pneumonia.
It can be difficult to determine whether some situations do or do not constitute medical negligence. If you're not sure whether or not your case constitutes negligence, speak with a personal injury attorney.
Who will you be filing the lawsuit against?
In some cases, the lawsuit will be against the hospital. In other cases, it will be against the doctor as an individual. This really depends on who, specifically, is at fault for your negligent care. If a nurse is mostly responsible for the malpractice, then the lawsuit will generally be against the hospital, since nurses are typically employees of the hospital. If a doctor is to blame for your injuries, your lawsuit will likely be against the doctor, since doctors generally work as independent contractors rather than as employees of the hospital. If both doctors and nurses acted negligently in your case, then your lawyer may actually advise filing two lawsuits -- one against the doctor and another against the hospital.
How soon do you need to file the lawsuit?
There is a statute of limitations on medical malpractice cases. his is a certain time after which you cannot file a lawsuit. The limit varies by state. In most states, the limit is 2 or 3 years. For this reason, it's important to act quickly. As soon as you suspect that you may have been the victim of medical neglect, seek out an attorney so they can begin working on your case.
What types of damages can be be awarded in a medical malpractice lawsuit?
There are several types of damages for which you can collect money. You may seek coverage for any future medical bills you incur as a result of the injuries. You may also collect funds to compensate for pain and suffering related to your injury and lost wages as a result of your injury. The amount of money individuals are rewarded varies so widely that it's impossible to give a general estimate, but your attorney should be able to look at the amounts awarded in cases similar to yours and give you a pretty good estimate of how much you can expect to collect if you win your case.
If you suffered medical negligence and are suffering as a result, don't just grin and bear it. Contact a personal injury attorney today, and take the first steps in filing your medical malpractice lawsuit. For more information, contact a practice like LeBaron & Jensen, P.C..