Medical negligence is a major cause of death in the United States, and it’s something that can happen to anyone at any time. However, many people don’t realize that a situation they have encountered might qualify as medical negligence. Understanding what constitutes malpractice and negligence can help you protect yourself and your loved ones.
Legal Definition of Medical Malpractice
The legal definition of medical malpractice is when a medical provider deviates from the standard of care that is recognized in their field. Standard of care refers to what a prudent medical provider would or would not have done in a similar circumstance. The deviation from the standard of care can occur through a negligent act or an omission.
To qualify as medical malpractice under current law, a situation must meet certain characteristics:
- The healthcare provider violated the standard of care in a particular situation.
- The violation of the standard of care, or resulting malpractice, caused an injury to the patient in the situation.
- The injury resulted in significant damages, such as disability, suffering and hardship, major medical bills, unusual pain, and/or loss of income.
How Do You Know When You’re the Victim of Medical Negligence?
If you have experienced medical care from a healthcare provider that resulted in a major injury, you might be a victim of medical malpractice or negligence. However, a poor outcome from a treatment or procedure isn’t immediate proof of negligence. You must be able to show that through the provider’s actions, a violation of the standard of care caused your injury.
Common Reasons Legitimate Medical Malpractice Claims Go Unexplored
It can be challenging to prove medical malpractice, but that’s not the only reason claims go unexplored and unresolved. You might elect not to pursue legal action against a healthcare provider you have a personal relationship with or who apologized to you following the adverse action.
Another reason a medical malpractice claim might go unexplored is the statute of limitations — patients must take action within a certain amount of time. The statute for a claim varies depending on the state in which the situation occurred, but if the time limit has expired, you can no longer file a legal claim against the medical provider.
Victims must also meet certain procedural and filing requirements when bringing medical malpractice claims against their providers. If you aren’t familiar with these legal requirements, you might file a case that has no merit, resulting in it being tossed out or sent back for additional information. To avoid this situation, work with an experienced medical malpractice attorney in the state where the situation occurred.
What Are the Odds of Winning a Malpractice Case?
The odds of winning your malpractice case depend on the extent of the injuries incurred due to the malpractice, as well as your ability to prove that the healthcare provider who treated you violated the standard of care in that situation. The lawyer you work with on your case can also impact the outcome. Some lawyers have more experience with medical malpractice claims and know what the courts look for when it comes to a successful ruling.
Has the Handling of Medical Malpractice Claims Shifted in the Past Few Decades?
While some people mistakenly believe the number of medical malpractice claims has increased recently, the actual number of claims is declining nationwide. However, the belief that claim numbers are rising has resulted in some states enacting limits on damage awards in malpractice cases. Individuals affected by malpractice and living in these states suffer the consequences of such legal actions, as they might not receive what they need to cover current and future healthcare costs to treat their injuries.
What Is Breach of Duty?
You might hear the term “breach of duty” when discussing medical malpractice. This term refers to a healthcare provider’s breach of their duty to care for and treat a patient properly. The term has a similar definition to medical negligence or deviation from the standard of care.
Common Causes of Negligence
A healthcare provider’s mental state can lead to medical negligence. If the provider is thinking about something else or distracted due to a personal or professional issue, they might not focus completely on their patient’s treatment. Another cause of negligence is tunnel vision, or a failure to look at the bigger picture due to a narrowed focus on a specific need or circumstance.
Factors Affecting Medical Malpractice
Some of the factors that can impact a medical malpractice case include your gender, age, and medical history. If you receive treatment from multiple providers or for multiple conditions, for instance, it might be more challenging to prove which provider was negligent in their actions.
How to Prove Medical Malpractice
To prove you are a victim of malpractice, you will need to collect and provide certain key information, including:
- Test results, medical records, and treatment records.
- A timeline of the events as they occurred and all parties involved.
- Expert testimony from medical professionals. (Your lawyer will typically assist with this.)
The courts will often refer to previous malpractice complaints and claims filed against the provider, as well as providers in the same medical field as a basis for making a determination and what qualifies as a deviation from the standard of care.
Steps to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Indiana
If you believe you are a victim of medical malpractice in Indiana, our team at Alvarez Law can become your trusted resource and ally. We serve the seriously injured throughout the state and bring more than 200 years of combined experience to every case. The first step is contacting us for a no-obligation consultation. We’ll review your claim and determine whether you might have a case.
The statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits in Indiana is two years, so act quickly if you believe you have been impacted by negligence. We’ll treat you like a member of our family as we work diligently to present your case and get you the money you need and deserve to manage your injury following an instance of medical negligence.