A medical malpractice lawyer can help you to identify liability, obligation to healthcare, causes to injuries and damages to seek justice and fair compensation.
Medical malpractice is an unfortunate reality, and patients are suffering from the damage it causes. Fortunately, most doctors, nurses, and other professional healthcare providers do not commit errors that rise to the level of malpractice.
However, enough cases do regularly occur to make medical malpractice a serious concern for society. If you suspect you are a victim, contacting a medical malpractice lawyer may help you receive justice.
What Exactly Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice in Virginia occurs when a professional healthcare provider, such as a doctor or a nurse, causes one of their patients to experience physical or financial damages due to negligence. In other words, medical malpractice happens when a healthcare professional makes a serious mistake and a patient is harmed in some way.
These mistakes do not have to come from overt acts committed by the healthcare professional. Acts of omission may also lead directly to medical malpractice. In either case, the act or the omission must be more than a simple mistake that anyone could make. It must rise to the level of negligence to be considered medical malpractice.
What Does a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Do?
A medical malpractice attorney fights to get their client maximum compensation for the damages they are suffering. The work of a medical lawyer encompasses a broad range of legal issues within the healthcare sector, from representing patients in medical malpractice cases to advising healthcare institutions on compliance and regulatory matters. It is a job that often requires an attorney to go head-to-head with insurance companies and defense attorneys in compensation negotiations and sometimes in court.
Additionally, a medical malpractice attorney handles the complicated procedures associated with medical malpractice compensation claims.
This is because medical malpractice is a special type of personal injury claim that involves complex medical terminology and routinely requires the use of medical experts. As a result, a competent medical malpractice attorney must have a deep understanding of medical issues as well as the law.
A competent medical malpractice lawyer will also do whatever it takes to get their client properly compensated, including going to trial. Most medical malpractice and other personal injury cases are settled before trial.
However, some require the attorney to take the insurance company and/or the defendant to court to get what their patient deserves.
When Is a Medical Malpractice Claim Appropriate?
Medical malpractice claims cannot be based on simple errors. If they could, practically every medical professional in the country might face liability. Because of this, more than a simple error is required. The mistake must be negligent and lead to damages.
However, negligence, especially in the medical field, can sometimes be difficult to recognize and establish. There are common situations where medical malpractice often occurs.
Patients rely on and pay good money for medical evaluations. When a doctor speaks a diagnosis, their patients usually take their words as law and respond accordingly. If the doctor erroneously diagnoses a condition, the patient will likely not be the wiser until damages begin to manifest.
Of all the types of medical errors, diagnostic errors are by far the most common error complained of by patients. They are also the most compensated type of medical malpractice and typically cause more harm to patients than any other form of medical malpractice.
Anesthesia is a complicated procedure that allows doctors to perform all types of surgeries without distressing their patients. It is a dangerous procedure that mandates a high standard of care. Anesthesiologists who fall below this standard are negligent and may cause serious injuries or death to patients.
Common errors that occur in the administration of anesthesia include:
- Using the wrong dosage
- Intubating improperly
- Failing to recognize complications as they arise
- Improper monitoring of the patient
- Failing to monitor the proper administration of oxygen
- Failing to prepare patients with proper pre-anesthesia instructions
Additionally, anesthesiologists are typically responsible for moving the patient during long surgeries to prevent optic nerve damage. Failure to do so can lead to permanent blindness.
Malpractice in the dental arena can occur in the diagnosis or treatment of a patient. A negligent dentist might misdiagnose an issue or miss a diagnosis altogether.
In some cases, dentists have been known to extract the wrong tooth and perform complicated procedures on the wrong teeth. Additionally, dentists are also often accused of botching complicated treatments, such as root canals.
Prescription errors often go hand-in-hand with diagnosis mistakes. A doctor might give a perfectly fine diagnosis yet err in the prescribing of medication. Errors may also occur in the administration of the prescription. Unfortunately, these types of mistakes are not uncommon.
Doctors and nurses in hospitals and clinics around the country administer countless quantities of medication every day. Errors should not be surprising, nor should they be tolerated.
Patients deserve to know that they are ingesting the right medicine in the proper amounts, and they deserve recompense when they are harmed through malpractice.
Believe it or not, wrong-site surgery is not only real, but it is also more common than many believe, even in this day and age of advanced surgical techniques.
In some cases, wrong-site surgery leaves minor damages and may be corrected in a rather short period of time. That’s not to say the error is acceptable in these circumstances and that patients don’t suffer damage. Even the smallest blunder can lead to excruciating pain and losses.
However, in many instances, wrong-site surgery generates significant damage for victims. Some common instances of wrong-site surgery include:
- Amputating the wrong body part
- Removing the wrong organ
- Performing surgery on the wrong side of the body
- Performing surgery on the wrong body part
These types of errors can cause serious debilitation and even lead to fatalities or a life of permanent disability and pain. In many instances, the damage is irreversible.
Healthcare professionals rely on treatment plans to address their patients’ ailments. Sometimes, however, a patient receives the wrong treatment plan. This may occur due to confusion of patients or thanks to logistical, scheduling, or technical errors, which usually signifies serious negligence.
Errors in Prenatal Care and Childbirth
Sadly, medical malpractice can occur during what should be one of the happiest moments in parents’ lives. A negligent healthcare provider might fail to diagnose prenatal conditions that affect the mother, child, or both. They might also perform the childbirth negligently, resulting in injury to the baby or the mother.
Unfortunately, these errors sometimes have a lifelong effect on the child and place a significant burden on their parents.
How a Seasoned Medical Malpractice Lawyer Can Help
As mentioned, medical malpractice cases are complex proceedings with multiple levels of implications. Patients in need of representation should only consult with an attorney who has extensive experience successfully handling medical malpractice claims and lawsuits.
A seasoned medical malpractice attorney already knows how to proceed with a compensation claim. They are familiar with the processes involved and have ready access to medical and other experts ready to testify on behalf of their clients.
The ability of a medical malpractice lawyer to get their client the payout they deserve directly corresponds with the lawyer’s ability to prove liability. In medical malpractice cases, an attorney must demonstrate four elements in order to successfully sustain and win a claim for damages due to medical malpractice:
Duty refers to the obligation a healthcare provider owes to their patients and the standards of care they must fulfill. A medical malpractice attorney must first establish that the healthcare provider in question had a duty towards the injured client.
In medical malpractice cases, this duty is evidenced by the doctor-patient relationship, which can be proven to exist through contracts, releases, and other documentary evidence.
Once a duty has been established, the lawyer must then show that the healthcare professional breached this duty somehow. Since the standards involved are medical and scientific by nature, proving a breach often requires medical malpractice attorneys to consult with experts who are able to give a professional opinion on the matter.
The importance of causation cannot be overstated. It requires that there be proof that the negligent healthcare professional’s substandard acts caused the injuries in question.
For example, a patient who suffers a stroke after negligent dental work is not eligible for compensation unless their attorney can demonstrate that the negligent dental work actually led to the stroke. As with breach questions, questions of causation typically require attorneys to consult medical experts.
Without damages, medical malpractice claims are dead in the water. For example, if a nurse negligently dispenses medicine to a patient who ultimately suffers no harm, the absence of damages nullifies the claim, even though there was negligence.
Maximum Compensation for Damages
One of the principal reasons for hiring a medical malpractice attorney is so you can get the maximum compensation available under the law. There is no rule or regulation that says a malpractice insurance company must pay victims what they deserve.
In fact, insurance adjusters routinely seek to pay as little as possible in order to benefit the insurance company’s bottom line.
With a medical malpractice attorney fighting for you, the chances of you getting paid what you deserve greatly improve. Insurance companies prefer to deal with claimants who represent themselves. It is much harder on their bottom lines when an experienced medical malpractice lawyer gets involved.
Time Considerations for Medical Malpractice Cases
For victims of suspected medical malpractice, time is always of the essence. Once an act of medical malpractice takes place, various timers start ticking.
Statute of Limitations
One of them is the statute of limitations. In Virginia, patients who are victims of medical malpractice have two years from the date of the injury or its discovery to file suit. Afterward, the claim may be invalid.
In cases where a minor is the victim and subsequent claimant, the statute may be tolled until the victim becomes independent from their parents.
Statute of Repose
There is also an overall time limit known as the statute of repose. It gives an overall time limit of ten years from the date of the act that caused the injury, regardless of when it was discovered.
In other words, if a patient discovers an injury nine years after surgery, they only have one year to file suit. As with the statute of limitations, exceptions also exist for minors.
In addition to meeting time limits, acting with haste when you suspect medical malpractice will usually lead to a stronger claim for compensation.
Contact Someone Who Can Help
The longer you wait to take action, the weaker your case is likely to become. Evidence becomes harder to collect, witnesses go missing, memories fade, and liable parties disappear. Hence, you must act fast to safeguard your right to compensation if you believe you are the victim of medical malpractice.
Contact The Joel Bieber Firm for a complimentary consultation.