When you are faced with serious medical questions or issues, you may be full of anxiety, worry, and even despair. When you seek licensed medical care to help you with your health problems and concerns, like getting a medical diagnosis or advice, surgery, or prescription advice, you expect that you are getting help from a skilled and competent medical practitioner who will help you get better. And under the law, you have the right to receive competent and skilled medical help. But sometimes, instead of getting the medical care you need, you end up suffering more because of careless mistakes. When you are harmed by the negligence or carelessness of a medical professional, it is called medical malpractice.
If you recently received medical care that left you feeling worse than before, you may be wondering if you have a claim for medical malpractice. Being unhappy with your medical treatment or dissatisfied with your health practitioner isn’t enough for a medical malpractice claim. In order to have a successful claim, four conditions must be met.
Elements of Medical Malpractice
The first required element of a medical malpractice claim is a doctor/patient relationship. You must show that you hired a doctor and that he agreed to treat you.
Next, you must show that the doctor was negligent. Medical negligence is defined as medical care that falls below the accepted standard of care. In order to establish the accepted standard of care, courts look at what kind of medical care a patient would receive from an ordinary and prudent health care professional, with the same kind of training, in the same community, under similar circumstances. Once the accepted standard of care is outlined, the court will examine the care you received and consider whether it met the level of that standard of care. If your medical care was below the accepted standard of care, the doctor is considered negligent. The issue of whether a doctor was negligent is usually at the heart of any medical malpractice case and usually requires expert testimony to be established.
Third, you must show that it was the doctor’s negligence that directly led to your injury. If the harm you experienced was the result of some pre-existing condition, or was the foreseeable result of your medical care, the doctor may not be liable.
Finally, a patient has to show specific damages. Damages is a legal term describing harm that a person has suffered. Pain and suffering, mental anguish, lost wages, lost earning potential, and medical bills are all considered damages that may be entitled to compensation under the law.
Common Forms of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice takes many forms. Some of the more common forms include a faulty diagnosis, improper medical treatment, or failure to provide informed consent. A faulty diagnosis may include a diagnosis that was simply wrong, a diagnosis that was late, or even a doctor’s failure to diagnose a dangerous medical condition. The broadest category of medical malpractice is improper medical treatment. Included in improper medical treatment are surgery errors, anesthesia errors, medication errors, and injuries sustained during childbirth or negligent prenatal care. Failure to provide informed consent is at issue when a patient was not adequately informed about the risks, benefits, or alternatives of a medical procedure.
Special Rules for Medical Malpractice
One of the most important aspects of a medical malpractice case is timing. Many states have statute of limitations that limit the amount of time you have to bring a medical malpractice case. Sometimes the clock starts ticking on your case as soon as negligence has occurred and not necessarily when you first discover that you’ve been harmed.
Additionally, many states now require that a medical malpractice claim first be brought before a special medical malpractice claims panel. The claims panel is made up of experts who will hear details of the case, listen to expert testimony and first-hand accounts, and then examine the evidence to determine if they think medical malpractice has occurred.
If you have been harmed by medical malpractice, you are entitled to compensation to aid your recovery. You may be entitled to money for physical pain and mental suffering, reimbursement for medical bills and money towards future medical costs, money for missed work and future earnings losses, and compensation for reduced quality of life.
Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Medical malpractice is governed by complex legal rules, with special rules and requirements that vary from state to state. If you have a claim for medical malpractice, you need the specialized help and knowledge of an experienced attorney. An attorney experienced in the rules and procedure of medical malpractice cases can help you gather the needed evidence and medical records regarding your injuries, can procure the necessary expert opinions, and help you understand the rules of medical malpractice that govern your case. Most importantly, an experienced medical malpractice lawyer can help fight for the compensation you deserve, allowing you to focus on recovery. Contact James S. Sorrels today for a free consultation and to get the help you deserve.