What is Medical Malpractice?
Since the beginning of the medical profession, medical providers have been held to a high standard of care. Writings dating back to 2030 have been found in ancient Rome that dictate medical responsibility.
Medical malpractice occurs when a medical provider causes an injury to a patient through negligence or omission. This often occurs through errors in diagnosis, treatment, aftercare, or health management.
Some of the types of cases taken by medical malpractice attorneys include:
- Hospital related infections
- Mistakes in surgery or childbirth
- Failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis
- Medication errors
- Misread x-rays or test results
For more information on the types of cases taken by medical malpractice attorneys click here.
Medical Malpractice Under the Law
When a medical malpractice attorney decides whether to take a case, they have to decide whether they think the case will hold up to the legal definition of medical malpractice. While the injured person and even their attorney may feel the person was a victim of medical malpractice, there is a specific legal definition containing three components. All of these components must be present and met to the degree of malpractice to hold up in a court of law.
- A violation of the standard of care- Under the law, the standard of care is defined as medical standards that are agreed upon as acceptable by reasonable medical care professionals in similar circumstances. Put more simply, if the action or inaction taken would have been the reasonable thing to do in the situation as determined by most medical professionals, it is the acceptable standard of care. If most reasonable medical professionals would not find the action or inaction acceptable in a similar situation, it could be a violation of the standard of care. As medical professionals are constantly learning through research, the standard of care is determined by current circumstances and is not set in stone.
- An injury was caused by the negligence- There is no case if a medical professional simply violated the standard of care and no harm was done. There would be no compensation owed for any damages. A patient must prove that they sustained an injury that would not otherwise have occurred had the medical professional not violated the standard of care. This can be difficult to prove. Oftentimes, poor patient outcomes are inevitable and are not a direct result of medical malpractice.
- The injury resulted in damages- The patient must not only be injured but must also have sustained damages. Damages include economic damages such as loss of income and lost wages as well as past and future medical bills and non-economic damages, which are harder to calculate. Non-economic damages in a medical malpractice claim include pain, suffering, and hardship.
When a medical malpractice attorney decides whether to take a case they have to determine whether the three components of the legal definition of medical malpractice were met.
Analyzing a Case
Medical malpractice attorneys have to decide whether your case will hold up to the legal definition of medical malpractice but they also have to analyze the odds of winning the case and whether it is economical to undertake the matter.
Medical malpractice cases are very expensive to litigate, or take to a court of law. If you are represented by an attorney, the attorney will work with the insurance company for the medical provider and attempt to reach a settlement out of court. Medical malpractices cases are expensive because they often require the testimony of many different medical professionals. Medical bills and records require analysis by professionals on both sides. Therefore, cases that involve small injuries and minimal damage are often too expensive to litigate. Insurance companies know this as well and will be more willing to settle out of court.
However, if liability is questionable the case may not be worth taking. If the case is not likely to settle out of court due to unclear or doubtful liability and is too expensive to litigate, the attorney may not take the case. Quite simply, they might lose money working on the case if they receive no settlement.
If you are trying to determine whether you have a case or are trying to work with the insurance company yourself, it is in your best interest to consult a medical malpractice attorney directly.
Why Do You Need a Medical Malpractice Attorney?
Navigating the legal system is difficult and time consuming. As a potential victim of medical malpractice, the last thing you want to do is deal with a medical provider’s insurance company on your own. Insurance companies are notoriously difficult to deal with and there is no question that medical malpractice attorneys with years of skill and expertise will get the results you want.
Medical malpractice attorneys will help you settle your claim without expensive and time consuming litigation. By working with the provider’s insurance company to come to a reasonable settlement that works for both sides, your attorney will save you time and money.
If you are unable to settle with the insurance company, your only choice will be to file a lawsuit. Litigation is a protracted process that no one wants to go through. Medical malpractice attorneys are experts in negotiating with insurance companies to reach a settlement and protect you from extensive litigation. Many medical malpractice attorneys operate on a contingency basis, which means if no recovery is made, you will not owe any money to your attorney.
Medical malpractice attorneys take cases they are confident they can win. They do the work for you to get you the best settlement possible.
Their staff, made up of legal assistants, paralegals, and legal secretaries will provide consistent communication about your case, order your medical records and bills for you, and take the stress out of getting compensated for what you are owed. Your attorney will visit you at home or in the hospital and will recommend providers that can work with you to provide the care you need at a rate you can afford.
Take Action Now to See if You Have a Case
When you’re injured, a medical malpractice attorney can make sure you are taken care of and fairly compensated if you were indeed the victim of medical malpractice. By doing the legwork of dealing with insurance companies, medical malpractice attorneys ensure their clients will have the peace of mind and rest needed to recover. With decades of combined experience, Alvarez Law Office has fought in high-profile cases such as the Goshen Health Hospital lawsuit.
You can find our contact information here to schedule a free consultation.