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Medical Malpractice Claim FAQ

Medical malpractice is a cause of action related to medical negligence in providing health care. This medical negligence is done on behalf of a medical professional, like a doctor or other medical care provider.

Some surgeries are known to be risky and may result in complications — this is different from medical malpractice. Malpractice occurs when a doctor fails to perform to the standard of their profession.

Medical malpractice laws allow a patient (victim of medical malpractice) to recover for injuries. This includes surgical errors, medication errors, unnecessary medical bills, or other injury claims. The amount of compensation varies depending on the type of medical malpractice. An example of medical malpractice would be if a doctor leaves a scalpel inside a patient.

If you think you or a loved one are a victim of medical malpractice, you should speak to a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. Medical malpractice lawyers will provide insightful legal advice and answer your specific questions.

The following are frequently asked questions about medical malpractice:

What is a medical malpractice claim?

A medical malpractice claim is a claim of negligence. In other words, harm committed by a professional health care provider:

  • Doctor
  • Nurse
  • Dentist
  • Technician
  • Hospital
  • Hospital worker

In these cases, the treatment of a patient departs from a standard of care. Those with similar training and experience set the standard. And the result ends with a personal injury to a patient.

Does someone who is not satisfied with the results of their surgery have a viable medical malpractice claim?

There are no guarantees of medical results. Unexpected or unsuccessful results do not mean negligence occurred. To succeed in a medical malpractice case, the plaintiff must show an injury happened because a doctor deviated from the standard of care for the procedure.

Disclaimer: A misdiagnosis alone is not enough to prove medical malpractice occurred. However, birth injuries or brain injuries may be enough.

What should I do if I think I have a medical malpractice claim?

You should talk to a medical malpractice lawyer specializing in such cases as soon as possible. Tell the medical malpractice attorney exactly what happened and in chronological order. Tell them about your first visit with the doctor or other health care provider through your last contact.

If possible, obtain your medical records and bring them to your first meeting with the attorney. There are time limits governing how long someone may wait to bring a medical malpractice claim, so time is of the essence.

What is informed consent?

The specific definition of informed consent may vary from state to state. Generally, it means that a physician or other medical provider must tell a patient of all the potential benefits, risks, and alternatives involved in any surgical procedure, medical procedure, or other course of treatment. They also must obtain the patient's written consent to proceed.

Do I have a case against a doctor who prescribed a drug for treatment but failed to tell me it was part of an experimental program?

Your physician had a duty to tell you that the drug was part of an experimental program, and you had the right to refuse to participate. You may have grounds for action against your doctor based on their failure to obtain informed consent relative to this treatment.

If the consent form is valid, can I recover any damages in a medical malpractice claim?

Yes, you still may be able to recover damages. A consent form does not release from liability a physician who was negligent in performing a medical procedure. If you can establish that your doctor deviated from the applicable standard of care in performing the procedure, and you were injured as a result, you may still recover against them.

You may also have a claim that the procedure the physician performed went beyond the consent you gave. In that case, the doctor might even be liable for battery.

How does a jury determine if a doctor's actions were negligent?

A jury will consider the testimony of experts, usually other doctors. They will testify whether your physician's actions followed standard medical practices or fell below the accepted standard of care. A jury may award noneconomic damages and punitive damages.

What is a certificate of merit?

In many states, plaintiffs must file a "certificate of merit" before filing a medical malpractice claim against a health care provider. To file a certificate of merit, a plaintiff must first have an expert, another qualified physician, review the relevant medical records. The expert must certify that the plaintiff's health care provider deviated from accepted medical practices, injuring the plaintiff. The plaintiff's attorney then files the certificate of merit. It confirms that the attorney has consulted with a medical expert and that the plaintiff's action has merit.

Is there a time limit on medical malpractice lawsuits?

Medical malpractice claims have a time limit or a statute of limitations. States vary in their statute of limitations laws. You must also make sure to get medical treatment or medical care promptly. You may want to pursue a wrongful death claim if your loved one died from medical malpractice.

Wondering if You Have a Valid Medical Malpractice Claim? An Attorney Can Help

Medical malpractice claims typically require a high level of expertise. If you suspect your doctor was negligent but are unsure, you should consult a medical malpractice attorney for an initial consultation. You may have a medical malpractice claim if you have been injured by a professional healthcare provider or in an emergency room or nursing home.

Medical malpractice lawyers will help review your personal injury case and the facts specific to your case.

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