What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is an act or omission of normal and accepted care. To prove a doctor is truly negligent, a victim needs to prove 4 key pieces of evidence:
- There was a legal duty of care the doctor was responsible for.
- The doctor breached this duty by failing to follow standard procedures.
- There is a direct relationship between the breach of duty and the victim’s injuries.
- There are laws governing protection against these injuries.
Medical malpractice lawsuits are civil lawsuits against doctors, nurses, hospitals, or a healthcare facility. In these lawsuits, the defendant is a negligent healthcare provider. The victim must prove that they received improper and substandard care either as a result of negligence or misconduct.
Medical malpractice lawsuits are incredibly common. One survey found roughly 70% of respondents had been sued at least once during their medical career. For this reason, most doctors carry medical malpractice insurance to avoid lengthy trials and unintentional injury.
How Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Work
Generally, medical malpractice lawsuits are against a single party, such as a doctor or a nurse. This is because normally the victim’s injuries have a direct relationship to the doctor’s or nurse’s actions. Victims can sue a hospital for liability, but rather than suing for direct liability, victims would sue for vicarious liability.
To sue a hospital for direct liability, the hospital itself has to be an unsafe and unsuitable environment for healthcare. With vicarious liability, the hospital acts as the employer of the negligent doctor or nurse. As the employer, the hospital also legally must provide a duty of care to all patients under their care.
In the United States, medical malpractice lawsuits are state-regulated. This means many states can implement their own limitations on damages and can have varying tort laws. A personal injury lawyer would normally specialize in medical malpractice law.
Statute Of Limitations For Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
Statute of limitations refers to the time you have to file a wrongful death claim. The statute of limitations changes from state to state. However, generally speaking, you usually have a year or two to file a motion with a court after a procedure is finished.
Many victims will find symptoms indicating malpractice years after the procedure. This is why many states have implemented a “discovery” rule with medical malpractice and wrongful death cases. This means that the statute of limitations extends to when symptoms first start to arise.
It can be a little more challenging to file a medical malpractice suit at this time, which is why it’s best to call a lawyer as soon as you begin to experience symptoms.
Also Read: What’s A Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The Challenges With Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
Although medical malpractice is one of the most common lawsuits, it can be some of the most challenging cases. Roughly between 25,000 to 120,000 deaths occur annually from medical malpractice. However, less than 3% of victims file medical malpractice claims.
This is because of those claims, less than 1% of the cases go to trial. Of that percentage, even fewer victims receive favorable results. More than half the time, the court reduces or limits the victim’s monetary damages.
It is incredibly difficult to prove the direct correlation between the victim’s injuries and the doctor’s negligence. Despite the obvious difficulty, medical malpractice lawyers can still help their clients receive compensation from their wrongdoers.
To successfully win a medical malpractice case, medical malpractice lawyers must prove the defending doctors did not act “in good faith,” however, “good faith” is very different in the medical world. Acting in “good faith” can be in the form of:
- Acting with good intention towards the victim.
- The act was done in good faith for the benefit of the patient with consent.
- The act was done in good faith for the benefit of the patient without consent.
- Everything communicated was in good faith.
The other challenge with medical malpractice suits is symptoms may not reveal themselves until years after the procedure. A victim can still file for medical malpractice outside the statute of limitations, but it will be much more difficult to pass the motion, especially without a lawyer.
Also Read: The Myth Of Frivolous Lawsuits
When Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Are Criminal
Criminal medical malpractice lawsuits are against the state. This means a state prosecutor would go to trial against a negligent doctor, nurse, or hospital. With criminal medical malpractice lawsuits, defendants can face penalties, fines, probation, and jail time.
When you sue another person, you file in civil court. The defendant will only have to pay monetary damages to the victim. Most medical malpractice cases are only civil lawsuits.
In order for a case to go to criminal court, the healthcare provider would have to practice under extremely heinous circumstances, such as:
- Gross negligence.
- Unjustly risking the life and health of a patient.
- Untimely and inappropriate reactions to critical situations.
- Practicing under the influence of drug or alcohol.
- Disregarding human life, or indifference to human life.
- Using out-dated treatments or treatments proven to fail in the past.
- Performing unnecessary procedures and tests to generate revenue.
- Practicing without license, certifications, or credentials.
Finding A Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you or someone you know was injured because of a doctor’s poor judgment, call a medical malpractice lawyer. Whether you were injured or someone sadly passed because of the accident, you can get compensation.
Call a personal injury lawyer today to see if you were injured in a medical malpractice accident.
Also Read: 12 Questions To Ask A Personal Injury Lawyer