Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States according to a recent study by Johns Hopkins University. Still, medical malpractice cases are hard to prove, and it can be even harder to recover the money that you deserve for your injuries. If you want to recover the amount of money you deserve in a medical malpractice case, you must find an attorney with established relationships with medical experts, a staff that are well versed in medical terminology and surgical protocol, and years of experience handling personal injury cases. Our personal injury attorneys in Orange County have been handling personal injury claims for over 40 years, and we understand how lawyers employed by insurance companies operate. We will voraciously advocate for you and fight hard to see that you are reimbursed for wages lost, expenses related to your injuries, and pain and suffering.
Common Types of Malpractice Cases
There are many things that can go wrong during a medical malpractice case. The scrub nurse could forget to wash their hands, the anesthesiologist may over or underdose a patient or the doctor may make a mistake. There are also many things that can go wrong with a patient's aftercare. Consequently, there are several types of medical malpractice cases that personal injury lawyers see most often.
A lot of medical malpractice cases are the result of a misdiagnosis. The doctor either tells the patient there is nothing wrong with them or diagnoses them with the wrong illness.
Being misdiagnosed is very serious, because it may prevent a person from receiving proper medical treatment and as a result, cause their condition to get worse. Not all misdiagnosis cases qualify as malpractice. If other doctors would have drawn the same conclusion based on the facts provided, you may not have a true malpractice case.
Failure to Treat an Illness
Even if a doctor diagnoses you correctly, they may not treat you correctly or soon enough. This often happens, because the doctor does not want to recommend treatment for which an insurance company may be unwilling to pay. They may also be unwilling to refer a patient to a specialist or ignore a patient's need for follow up care.
In this type of case, the doctor will give the correct diagnosis after giving an incorrect diagnosis. A patient's condition must have worsened, because of the delay in order for this to qualify as a malpractice case. The doctor must have failed to make a critical step in the evaluation process, such as failing to order an X-ray or blood test.
Errors During Surgery
There are many things that can go wrong during any surgery, no matter how routine the operation may be. Doctors can easily damage nerves during surgery if they are careless or rushing. With all of the surgeries that are performed in a hospital each day, hurrying through the process is a common problem. Surgical tools may go unsterilized, equipment is left inside of patients after they are sewn up, and it is not uncommon for a doctor to remove the wrong organ.
Sometimes the fault in a medical malpractice case may not be the fault of the doctor or the hospital. A product used during the surgery may be faulty. For example, Dow Corning made a breast implant that leaked silicone into women's bodies causing injury and death.
Lobbyists for the medical and insurance industry have done a very good job of creating a backlash against people who get large awards in medical malpractice cases. In spite of a proliferation of surgical mistakes, it is not uncommon for victims to be portrayed as greedy and insincere in the press.
Tort reform puts caps on the amount of money that a person can receive in a personal injury case. Awards in personal injury cases are meant to cover such things as medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Tort reform threatens the ability of patients to get the money they deserve, but proponents of tort reform argue that high awards in personal injury cases will only drive up medical insurance costs, the cost of doctor's visits, and the cost of medical malpractice insurance. Tort reformers argue that doctors will be hesitant to provide necessary treatments for fear of lawsuits if damages are not capped.
Although it is arguably unfair to put a limit on rewards, California has a $250,000 cap on awards for damages in personal injury cases due to the successful lobbying of congress by the insurance industry. Medical malpractice lawyers work on a contingency basis, and some attorneys are hesitant to take cases where there will be a limit on the reward. Our attorneys believe that your needs are important and that you are entitled to receive all of the damages associated with your case.
Famous Medical Malpractice Cases
Although attorneys always try to settle personal injury cases out of court, there are a few medical malpractice trials that have been widely published in all the newspapers.
Birth Injury Causes Cerebral Palsy
A nurse and a midwife were sued for damages in 2005, when they misread a monitor and did not realize that an infant they were helping to deliver was in distress. As a result of their mistake, the infant developed Cerebral Palsy. A jury awarded the family $11.4 million.
Misdiagnosed Heart Condition
A man in Virginia was given a clean bill of health by his doctor and then taken off of his medication. A month later he had a heart attack and eventually needed a heart transplant. He received $25 million in damages.
The city of New York was ordered to pay a woman $172 million in 2014 when the ambulance company they were contracted with showed up to a woman's house without the proper equipment to treat her anaphylactic shock. She was left paralyzed and brain-damaged.
Building Your Case
If you believe that you have been the victim of medical malpractice, be sure to save every bill you have associated with your case. Keep receipts for any prescription or nonprescription drugs you have had to take, and document any time you have lost from work.
Our trained team of legal researchers and attorneys will work hard on our end to clearly establish the doctor's negligence and to get you a fair settlement.
What is medical malpractice?
When a patient goes to a medical professional, whether it is a surgeon, a doctor, a hospital, or other healthcare professional or organization, they should be able to reasonably expect that the professional will uphold a standard of care to keep them as safe as possible by adhering to medical standards. In the event that the medical professional fails to uphold this standard of care, whether it is due to recklessness, carelessness, act or omission, and the patient is injured, then the patient may be the victim of medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice can include situations like a failure to diagnose, failure to treat an injury or illness properly, surgical errors, misprescribing medication, and much more. If you have been injured by a medical professional and are uncertain of whether or not your situation is considered to be medical malpractice, contact us as soon as possible.
Are there damage caps in medical malpractice lawsuits in California?
Under the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) of 1975, covered under California Civil Code 3333.2 CC, there is a damage cap of $250,000 on non-economic damages for medical malpractice lawsuits in California. This does not mean that there are caps on your economic damages, only that you will not be able to seek damages beyond that amount for issues like pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment. In rare or specific cases, the courts will award punitive damages to the victim that are separate from the compensatory damages sought by the victim, but they are entirely up to the discretion of the judge and jury.
What is the statute of limitations on a medical malpractice case?
There is a statute of limitations on these types of personal injury lawsuits, and it is important that you act swiftly after you realize that you have been injured. In California, the medical malpractice statute of limitations is 3 years from when the injury occurred, OR 1 year after the injury was discovered, depending on which limitation is appropriate for the situation.
As soon as you suspect that you have suffered an injury, contact an attorney to learn about your options and how to take the necessary steps to get the compensation you deserve.
Does my situation qualify for a medical malpractice suit?
In order to get a better understanding of your own injuries and circumstances, contact an Orange County medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. These types of personal injury cases can be extremely complicated, in addition to being time-sensitive. During an initial consultation, we will be able to talk about your injuries, your history with the medical professional who caused them and be able to give you more context to your situation and the most appropriate path forward.
Whether or not you are certain that you are dealing with a medical malpractice case, it is essential that you discuss the case with a lawyer so you know how to move forward with confidence. After an injury, dealing with the additional uncertainty of not knowing what types of remedies are available can be extremely stressful. The right legal team can help settle these concerns for you.
How much is my medical malpractice lawsuit worth?
Just as we suggest with determining whether or not your situation is considered medical malpractice or not, the best way to determine how much your case is worth is to speak with an attorney in greater detail. There are a variety of different economic and non-economic factors that go into determining the amount of damages that we will seek in your lawsuit, and each is extremely specific to your injuries, your economic situation, and more.
When Should I Contact an Attorney?
When doctors cause injuries, powerful insurance companies are usually the ones that end up paying for damages. These insurance companies have teams of attorneys and numerous tactics to help make sure they pay victims as little money as possible. When you do not have someone representing you in your case, you have very little leverage to force those responsible to pay you the money you are owed.
If you have been injured due to any type of medical error, contact Huntington Beach injury lawyer Timothy J. Ryan. Attorney Ryan provides free consultations to help you get your questions answered and your claim secured. There is no obligation to retain our services and there is no fee whatsoever unless we win your case.