We often trust medical professionals to care for us and our wellbeing, but sometimes these individuals may act negligently or fail to act altogether. These acts of negligence or omissions can lead to serious injury or even death. If you have been a victim of medical malpractice, you have legal options.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a patient suffers injury or death due to a medical professional’s act or omission. Medical malpractice can occur for several reasons, including:
- Misdiagnosed medical cases;
- Delayed medical diagnosis;
- Surgical error;
- Medication error;
- Delay in treatment; and
- Failure to act after medical testing.
Every situation is different, so you should consult with a medical malpractice attorney to discuss your case.
Evansville medical malpractice cases serve to compensate victims and their families after suffering through a challenging and emotional time.
How to Prove Medical Malpractice
Proving medical malpractice has occurred requires several elements to be satisfied. These include:
- The medical professional owed the patient a duty of care;
- The medical professional breached this duty of care;
- The breach of care was the actual and proximate cause of the injury; and
- The breach resulted in damages.
Your Evansville medical malpractice attorney must establish that all elements are satisfied. Without all elements, there can be no medical malpractice claim.
If all elements are satisfied, the investigation, or discovery process, can begin. During this phase of your case, both sides collect relevant information pertaining to your medical malpractice claim. Critical information may include:
- Medical records;
- Lab reports; and
- Witness depositions.
Your Evansville medical malpractice lawyer may also consult with an expert to gain insight into your particular situation and the standard of care.
Common Medical Errors
If you have suffered from one of the common medical errors below contact an Evansville medical malpractice attorney.
Affecting almost 1.5 million people each year, medication errors can come in a variety of forms. The wrong dose, a bad reaction, bad combination or even the wrong drug can have a negative effect on a patient who trusts the doctor to get it right.
Patients can protect themselves by always asking questions about medications they are given and disclosing any prescription or over-the-counter drugs they are taking before they are prescribed a new medication.
Excessive blood transfusions
Many of medical professionals believe that the more blood cells given to a patient, the more likely they are to contract an infection. Over half of blood transfusions given in the United States were considered inappropriate in one study.
Before any patient undergoes a transfusion, loved ones or the patient should ask why the procedure is necessary. Never be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable with the treatment.
Premature babies and too much oxygen
Finding the right balance of too much oxygen and not enough can be particularly difficult in premature babies. An oxygen overdose on a premature infant can cause blindness, so finding the right balance based on the baby’s weight is imperative. This one simple thing can have lasting ramifications, so parents of pre-term babies should never be afraid to question the amount of oxygen their child is receiving.
Infections picked up in hospitals and clinics
Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hospital infections are contracted by about one in every 25 patients. This error has a simple fix, as you can remind providers to always wash their hands or wear gloves before treating you or a family member.
Preventing unnecessary illness or death
Most of these errors are avoidable if the patient and the physician are on the same page and both equally devoted to quality, safe care. If you have been harmed by a medical error and feel your health care professional was at fault, you may benefit from speaking to an attorney about your case.
Failing to Diagnose or Misdiagnosing
Many medical conditions are difficult to diagnose. They may share similarities and symptoms. Others are a little bit easier, with simple tests and procedures that make it possible to identify the condition sooner.
A misdiagnosis or the lack of a diagnosis has the potential to threaten your life in some cases. In others, it means living in pain or with unusual, confusing symptoms far longer than is necessary.
For example, someone developing Type I diabetes may feel unwell for quite a while and present with symptoms of diabetes but not be diagnosed. If he or she is not diagnosed rapidly, it’s possible that he or she could go into ketoacidosis or end up passing away from the disease.
It’s been estimated that approximately 12 million Americans go without the correct diagnosis of a condition each year. That means that those individuals may think they have a condition they don’t actually have, or they may not be treated for a condition they do. A misdiagnosis can lead to serious consequences, and around 40,500 people die each year because of them.
Damages in a Medical Malpractice Case
If you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice in Evansville, IN, you may recover damages. Damages in medical malpractice cases include economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
Economic damages are easily calculable damages. They reimburse victims for the financial costs associated with their medical malpractice. These damages may include:
- Medical bills,
- Other medical expenses,
- Rehabilitation, and
- Past and future lost wages.
Relevant documentation typically supports economic damages.
Unlike economic damages, non-economic damages are not as easy to assign a dollar amount. These include:
- Pain and suffering,
- Emotional anguish, and
- Loss of consortium.
Aside from documentation, witness testimony or experts typically support non-economic damages.
Punitive damages are not available in every case. This kind of damages serves to punish and deter the negligent party, rather than compensate the victim. A judge or jury usually has the discretion to award punitive damages.
Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations
It is essential to understand time limits as they apply to medical malpractice circumstances, which are referred to as statutes of limitation. Statutes of limitation must be strictly followed and failing to file a claim for damages within the prescribed time limit bars the claim forever.
Statutes of limitation vary by state, so it is important for victims of medical malpractice to familiarize themselves with the duration of the statute of limitation in their state. Statutes of limitation typically vary from between 1 to 3 years that the victim has to bring the claim for damages. Because statutes of limitation can be short, it is important to protect a potential claim for damages when a victim has suffered harm as a result of medical malpractice.
Medical Malpractice FAQs
How Do I Know I Have a Medical Malpractice Case?
It’s impossible to know whether you have a medical malpractice case without knowing the exact facts surrounding your care. Common medical malpractice lawsuits involve misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, prescription drug errors, surgical errors, and childbirth injuries. It’s not enough that a patient suffers residual symptoms from treatment, as some medical complications are unavoidable. The healthcare provider’s negligence must be the direct cause of the injury.
Who Can Be Sued in a Medical Malpractice Claim?
An Evansville medical malpractice lawyer can provide the best answer tailored to your specific circumstances because several parties may be liable for your injuries. Doctors are often sued for medical malpractice, but other providers, like nurses, physician assistants, and medical technicians, might also be liable. An attorney will also consider whether the hospital, laboratory, diagnostic center, pharmaceutical company, or medical device manufacturer might be involved.
What Is the Statute of Limitations in an Evansville Medical Malpractice Case?
You have two years from the date of the malpractice or from the date the injury should have reasonably been discovered to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Several exceptions and other limits apply, so it’s important to speak with an Evansville medical malpractice attorney to avoid losing your right to file a lawsuit.
How Do I Prove Medical Malpractice?
While the nuances of proving a medical malpractice claim are outside the scope of this section, generally, you need to prove negligence to have a medical malpractice case. There are four elements a patient needs to meet to prove negligence:
- Duty—A healthcare provider and patient relationship must exist to establish the requisite duty;
- Breach—The healthcare provider must fail to provide a certain standard of care consistent with what other healthcare professionals would provide in similar circumstances;
- Causation—Your injury must be directly caused by the healthcare provider; and
- Damages—Your injury must result in actual harm and losses.
If you can prove these four elements, you likely have a strong medical malpractice case.
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I had a great experience with Robert Rock as my attorney. The Gerling Law team has been fantastic throughout the process. Everything went really great- super smooth! - Linda B
Get a Free Consultation with Gerling Law - Medical Malpractice Attorneys Serving Evansville, IN
Gerling Law has over five decades of experience helping clients through a challenging and emotional time. We understand the complexities of medical malpractice cases and are ready to fiercely represent you every step of the way. Our team offers patience and compassion while fighting aggressively for the justice and compensation you deserve.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, contact our office today. You can expect to receive honest legal advice and have any questions answered during your free case evaluation.