Medical professionals are required to follow certain standards of care in order to best treat patients. However, mistakes can happen. When these mistakes are more serious—leading to severe injury, illness, or death— it can be crucial to know your rights and legal options.
Behind cancer and heart disease, medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, resulting in an estimated 251,000 deaths per year. In cases where medical errors do not lead to death, negligence at the hands of a medical professional can still cause significant injury, pain, and hardship.
The skilled attorneys of Florin|Roebig have secured nearly $1 billion in compensation for our clients, which includes individuals seeking legal action for medical negligence and malpractice.
Our expertise in this key area of personal injury has provided our attorneys with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to strengthen your medical malpractice suit and help you receive due compensation.
Under state law, which can vary depending on where you live, medical malpractice claims must be filed in a timely manner. Our attorneys can help you determine your eligibility to seek compensation for medical malpractice and can offer effective legal guidance and representation based on the details of your case.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice refers to any situation in which the negligent treatment by a medical provider directly led to a patient’s injury, illness, or death. This can occur in the way of omitting treatment, providing the wrong type of treatment, or a medical professional otherwise failing to perform their duties.
People of all ages and backgrounds can become victims of medical malpractice. However, those who may be most likely to be susceptible include the elderly and people with serious, chronic, or rare health conditions.
Who can you file a claim against for medical malpractice?
While many cases of medical malpractice can occur by means of a person’s general physician, medical negligence can also occur at the hands of nurses, surgeons, specialists, nurse practitioners, and pharmacists.
Common Types Of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice can apply to a wide range of scenarios. However, the common factor shared in all of these cases is the direct link back to the ill-informed or negligent treatment by a medical professional.
Common types of medical malpractice and negligence include:
- omitting treatment
- practicing without proper licensure
- missing, delayed, or incorrect diagnosis
- surgical mistakes
- medical device errors
- lack of informed consent
- misread test results (e.g. X-Ray, ultrasound)
- medication errors
- disregarding or overlooking patient history
- birth-related injuries
- poor sanitation (e.g. non-sterilized equipment)
- inadequate medical training
The most common examples of medical malpractice seen by attorneys are explained in greater detail below.
Anesthetic drugs, or anesthesia, are largely used in surgical settings to create a temporary loss of sensation and awareness. This can be highly useful for performing a number of painful or otherwise distressing procedures.
It’s important for any medical professional to be able to administer anesthesia correctly. Although it can be very helpful and effective, it can also be very dangerous when administered using an incorrect method or in the wrong dosage.
Even small miscalculations in anesthetic procedures can result in permanent or serious injury, illness, or death.
Examples of anesthesia mistakes in medical malpractice law:
- neglecting vital signs
- neglecting to tell a patient of important pre-operative procedures (e.g. fasting)
- administering an incorrect anesthetic dosage
- use of defective equipment
- overlooking the possibility of complicating factors based on patient medical history
Missing or delayed diagnoses are one of the top medical errors featured within U.S. medical malpractice claims. Receiving a diagnosis for a medical condition that is inaccurate, or receiving a delayed diagnosis, can have serious implications on a person’s health and treatment.
Getting a delayed diagnosis of cancer, for instance, can have devastating consequences on both an individual’s present and future health. A delayed diagnosis can cause a patient to miss out on critical treatment opportunities, which—in the most serious cases—can have deadly consequences.
Emergency Room Malpractice
Medical professionals who work in emergency rooms are frequently required to work excessive hours which, coupled with the busy pace of emergency medical situations, can increase the risk of performing minor to major medical errors.
Any leeway afforded to medical professionals performing duties in this type of chaotic environment, however, is still limited. Emergency room doctors may still be made liable for medical errors and other types of negligence that are significant enough to lead to serious personal or financial losses.
Errors That Occur In Hospital Settings
Hospitals are a common setting for individuals to receive minor to major forms of medical care. Compared to outpatient providers such as pediatricians, for example, general surgeons are much more likely to face medical malpractice claims throughout their medical career, as a “high-risk specialty”.
Examples of errors and other forms of negligence that can occur in hospital settings are numerous, but may include:
- anesthesia errors
- malfunctioning or defective equipment
- operating on the wrong body part
- puncturing an organ
- childbirth complications
- leaving instruments/tools inside the body
- failing to properly sanitize surgical/medical instruments
It’s important to note that in many cases, patients who are undergoing major surgeries are required to sign certain waivers indicating they understand the potential risks involved.
Signing these waivers does not rid surgeons of liability in cases of medical malpractice. However, it can complicate your claim.
If you are injured and suffer major consequences as a result of the surgeon’s negligence, it’s best to discuss the details of your case with an attorney.
Medical Device Malfunctions
Medical devices refer to any tool, instrument, machine, implant, or other object that may be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent disease.
Medical devices that malfunction, are defective, or are otherwise obsolete can have serious consequences to a person’s health and wellbeing. This can affect how patient vitals are read, impact the ability of a doctor to order proper treatment, obscure health complications, and more.
Examples of medical devices that can malfunction and lead to serious consequences include:
- heart monitor
- blood pressure reader
- magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine
- orthopedic stints
Several of the most common surgical mistakes named in medical malpractice claims are those that occur during an operation. There are also several forms of negligence that can occur post-operation.
Failing to follow proper procedures following a patient’s operation can lead to serious consequences such as infection, symptom relapse, and other severe health consequences.
Examples of postoperative errors include:
- administering the wrong medications
- failing to follow proper medical procedures in the immediate aftermath of an operation (e.g. regularly checking vital signs)
- discharging a patient without allowing sufficient time for observation
Understanding Medical Malpractice Claims
Determining your rights following an incident of medical malpractice can be confusing without the assistance of an attorney. Medical malpractice claims, as one study describes it, “represent a complex interplay of patient, doctor and societal factors”. Many factors can contribute to both how medical malpractice occurs and how it can be interpreted in a legal setting.
What you need to understand about medical malpractice claims is:
- whether the details of your incident match the eligibility criteria to file a medical malpractice claim
- your state’s medical malpractice laws (as these can vary depending on where you live in the United States)
- how long you have to file a claim following your incident of medical negligence
- how to find the best medical malpractice attorney to discuss your case and pursue legal action, based on their recommendation
Do You Have A Medical Malpractice Claim?
Only a small percentage of people who experience medical malpractice are estimated to ever report their incident and thereby seek recoverable damages.
The barriers individuals can often face in filing a claim for malpractice—such as lack of knowledge, financial concerns, and lack of access to legal help—contribute to our lack of understanding of the exact prevalence of medical errors in the United States.
If you or a loved one has experienced illness or injury as a result of a medical professional’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. There are certain criteria that your incident must meet to be considered medical malpractice under the law.
Medical malpractice claims must be able to demonstrate the following:
- standard of care violation: Medical malpractice claims must demonstrate that a medical professional has violated the medical standards of care to which each person in the medical field is required to adhere. These medical standards exist to protect the rights of patients to receive competent, timely, and appropriate treatment.
- direct cause of injury: Violating medical standards of care does not by itself establish the grounds for filing a medical malpractice claim. Your claim must be able to name one or more resulting injuries that would not have occurred had you received proper medical treatment.
- consequences of your injury: Finally, your claim must be able to outline significant consequences that have occurred as a result of medical negligence. Minor damages are less likely to make for a viable case. Examples of significant consequences may include disability, significant suffering, loss of income, and considerable past or anticipated medical bills.
You must also be able to establish the existence of a relationship between yourself and the medical professional named in your claim—that is, proof that they did in fact treat you on one or more occasions.
If you’re unsure of whether your incident of malpractice meets the criteria for a viable medical malpractice claim, our team of medical malpractice attorneys can help by reviewing the details of your situation.
Damages Which May Be Awarded In Medical Malpractice Claims
Plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases may be able to recover several types of damages in the form of compensation, depending on the nature of the case and the types of costs you have suffered.
Types of damages that may be awarded in medical malpractice claims include:
- medical bills
- surgical costs (former and projected)
- lost wages
- loss of spousal support
- pain and suffering
- mental anguish
- any other major inconveniences directly resulting from sustained injuries
Note that non-economical costs, such as pain and suffering, may be subject to a cap depending on your state’s medical malpractice laws. Consult an attorney to determine how your state’s medical malpractice laws may affect your recoverable damages.
How Long Do You Have To File A Medical Malpractice Claim?
In the United States, medical malpractice law is under the authority of each individual state, which can affect how long you have to file a malpractice claim.
Learning your state’s medical malpractice laws—or having an attorney explain them to you—can be critical to the process of filing a claim and seeking recoverable damages.
In general, the amount of time you have to file any type of personal injury claim, including in cases of medical malpractice, is outlined in the statute of limitations.
Statute Of Limitations On Medical Malpractice
Sometimes referred to as an “expiration date,” a statute of limitations outlines how long individuals have after an incident to pursue legal action. In medical malpractice law, this statute varies by state.
Many states, however, have joined a trend of adopting a two-year statute of limitations on medical malpractice cases. In Florida, for instance, this is a notable difference from the four-year statute of limitations on ordinary negligence cases.
One of the primary reasons underlying decisions to reduce the amount of time individuals have to file medical malpractice claims is cost. Medical malpractice cases are notorious for being complex, costly, and requiring significant time and energy commitments from all legal and medical professionals involved.
The best way to determine how long you have to file a claim for medical malpractice is to consult a medical malpractice attorney, who can inform you of your state’s statute of limitations and provide informed recommendations based on your medical story.
Is It Necessary To Hire An Attorney To File A Claim?
Medical malpractice cases can become very complex and complicated to navigate, even for a seasoned attorney. Some states require additional materials, such as an affidavit of merit, in order to file a medical malpractice claim. There can be extensive legal language and an understanding of the law involved when it comes to knowing what you need in order to pursue legal action.
Although you may be able to file a claim for medical malpractice on your own, this is not recommended. Consulting with an experienced medical malpractice attorney is the best way to learn what steps you need to take to file a claim and to pursue legal action with confidence.
Benefits Of Medical Malpractice Attorneys
In any case of personal injury, it can be useful to have legal guidance to help guide you through the complex waters of legal language and action requirements. This is especially true for medical malpractice cases, which are known for requiring a very particular skill-set among attorneys.
Hiring a medical malpractice attorney to represent your interests can offer a number of benefits that can prove crucial to your likelihood of being awarded compensation.
The top benefits of hiring a medical malpractice attorney are as follows:
- specific expertise: medical malpractice encompasses a very specific type of law that can best be navigated by an attorney who has experience securing medical malpractice compensation for their clients.
- knowing the value of a claim: Most people choosing to seek compensation for medical malpractice damages want to have some idea of what they can expect to gain from filing a claim. Discussing the details of your case with a medical malpractice attorney who has experience with these cases is the best way to get an accurate idea of what you can expect from both the claims process and your anticipated settlement amount.
- handling tedious work: Filing a medical malpractice claim is not easy. It can often require seemingly endless amounts of paperwork, phone calls, and negotiating with relevant authorities. Enlisting the assistance of an attorney can ease the burden of attending to these tedious responsibilities and ensure that they are being managed with due diligence and skill.
Legal mistakes can often be made during malpractice cases. By hiring a medical malpractice attorney, you can rest easier knowing that you have someone with specific expertise in this area attending to your case and negotiating the best possible outcomes for the claim on your behalf.
Find Help With Filing A Medical Malpractice Claim Today
If you or a loved one has suffered consequences as a result of a medical professional’s negligence, don’t wait to seek legal guidance.
The attorneys of Florin|Roebig have extensive knowledge in securing due damages for individuals who have suffered severe losses as a result of medical malpractice.
Our offices can offer you a free case evaluation, in which one of our attorneys can discuss the details of your case and provide you an effective course of legal action.
Don’t wait to begin the process of seeking compensation for your losses. Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced medical malpractice attorney.