Medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the United States, after cancer and heart disease. More than 251,000 lives are compromised every year in the U.S. due to medical malpractice. The healthcare industry has evolved to a great extent, thanks to the technological advancements. But, even the advancements have failed to ensure safe and high-quality medical care for all patients. According to the “To Err is Human,” report released by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), medical mistakes have become rampant in health care. The report estimates 44,000 to 98,000 people die in hospitals every year.
Recent reports are even more horrifying; these reports reveal more than 400,201 deaths per year, which is almost four times more than that estimated in the IOM report.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Even though the number of deaths due to medical malpractice is astounding, many people are still not fully aware of what medical malpractice actually is, and what to do if they have been victims of medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider fails to adhere to the recognized “standard of care” while treating a patient. A medical malpractice claim exists if the patient suffers from injury or considerable damages due to the negligence of the medical practitioners. However, remember that not all bad outcomes (of medical treatments) can be treated as medical malpractice.
The most common types of medical malpractice include:
- Surgical errors
- Medication mistakes (mistakes while prescribing or administering medication)
- Negligence affecting pregnancy and childbirth
In spite of the staggering number of deaths due to medical negligence, only 15 percent of the personal-injury lawsuits filed are medical malpractice cases. Moreover, 80 percent of the medical malpractice lawsuits end with no pay.
If you believe that you have been a victim of medical malpractice, make sure you hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to file a lawsuit. For instance, the personal injury lawyers at Van Sant Law, LLC have even helped their clients obtain more than $2.5 million in compensation for damages done due to medical negligence. Patricia G., a victim of medical malpractice, was helped by the experienced legal team at Davidvansant.com. She not only got compensated for the damages, but also received proper counseling by the legal team at Van Sant Law, which helped her to overcome trauma.
Things to Know about Medical Malpractice Claims
The first thing you should do in an event of medical malpractice is to contact a seasoned personal lawyer who is specialized in handling medical negligence cases. Brief your lawyer about everything and provide all the evidence available to you. Since most lawyers offer a free consultation, it should be very convenient for you.
The second thing to consider is the ‘Statutes of Limitation.’ This is defined as the deadline by which a lawsuit must be filed in order to be considered valid. The statutes of limitation differ from state to state, so make sure that you ask your lawyer about the how quickly you must file a lawsuit in your state.
Before filing a lawsuit, ensure that you actually have a medical malpractice claim. The following factors will determine whether you have a medical malpractice claim:
- A doctor and patient relationship existed
- The doctor was negligent (you should be able to prove that the mistakes were avoidable)
- The injuries or damages caused were due to the doctor’s negligence
- The injury led to temporary or permanent disabilities, which resulted in a loss of wages, ability to work, etc.
Oftentimes, you might be required to get a written statement, known as a ‘certificate of merit’ from another medical practitioner to establish negligence and causation. Merely claiming that you suffered from injuries due to a procedure might not be enough to file a lawsuit.
If the lawyer confirms that you have a medical malpractice claim, you will two options to choose from:
Out-of-Court Settlement: Filing a medical malpractice case can cost you time and money, so you can consider settling it out of the court. However, you must involve a personal injury lawyer to make sure that you get an appropriate settlement amount. If the medical practitioner or the insurance company refuses to take liability or offers a lower settlement amount, you should consider the second option.
File a Lawsuit: Filing a lawsuit can be time-consuming and costly, but it is worth doing if you have a strong case. Hiring a lawyer should be convenient enough, since most lawyers work on contingency fees. This simply means that the lawyer will charge his/her fees only if your case is settled.
Don’t be afraid to proceed to the court if you believe that you have been a victim of medical malpractice. The medical practitioners are obliged to comply with the ‘standard of care;’ so if they deviate from the recognized standards, necessary steps must be taken.
The medical malpractice laws constitute a highly complex set of rules, so it is best to hire a personal injury lawyer to represent you at court. A lawyer will not only help you file a case, but will also make sure that you get compensated properly, and that your rights are restored fully.
Guest Post by:
Michael Horst is an experienced trial Attorney at Van Sant Law. He has vast experience in commercial litigation, including construction disputes, automobile dealerships, commercial lending, and financial companies. He joined the law firm to help individuals and families pursue their claims against negligent people and companies, and to fight back against unfair insurance practices.