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At one time, the family doctor was a fount of wisdom, possibly the most educated individual in the community. These physicians were highly respected and patients expected them to have the answers. All that has changed, however, as the population in general has become more knowledgeable, and more money, and therefore more people hoping to take advantage of it, have entered the industry. Add to that the fact that there are more overworked and understaffed medical facilities than ever, and it is not surprising to learn of an increase in medical malpractice lawsuits, a huge rise in medical malpractice insurance rates, and cries for the government to do something about health insurance.

The truth is, health professionals are human beings who can make mistakes, no matter how conscientious and knowledgeable they are. If mistakes are made, those who suffer from medical malpractice have the right to contact a medical malpractice attorney and learn if they have grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, everyone should keep in mind that due to the power and influence of the medical industry and their lobbyists, in many states, legislators have made it more difficult than ever for these personal injury attorneys to win large medical malpractice lawsuits. As a result, it is often difficult or impossible to successfully pursue such cases these days without the help of an experienced accident attorney. They understand the field, the language, and the requirements for successful medical malpractice lawsuits. They cannot only help victims understand whether medical malpractice occurred, but who is at fault and should be sued in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Who Can Sue

Anyone who has had an injury either incurred, mishandled, or exacerbated by a medical professional or a medical institution has the right to consult a lawyer to learn if they can file medical malpractice lawsuits. However, states differ on exactly what conditions justify attorneys filing those suits. Most states have a statute of limitations on medical malpractice lawsuits, and a medical malpractice lawyer will know the laws in each state. In some states, those statutes vary depending on the age of the victim of medical malpractice.

Because of the very nature of medical malpractice, some medical malpractice injuries are not immediately detected. The consequences of, for example, leaving a sponge in a patient after surgery may not be revealed until months or even years later. Many states have specific standards outlining when those victims should have known that medical malpractice occurred and resulted in injury. Those states start the statute of limitations time clock ticking at the point that the medical malpractice injury was detected, or when it should have been detected by a reasonable person. If a patient has any suspicion that this kind of medical malpractice occurred, they should consult a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible and let this legal expert help them determine if and when they can begin the process of filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

In addition, there are times when medical malpractice may result in the death of the victim. In those cases, the immediate family members or dependents of the victim may have a right to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against a negligent health provider or facility. Malpractice attorney who are experienced in this field can help a family member determine if they have grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, what the statute of limitations is in their state, and how state medical malpractice laws apply to their case.

Potential Recovery

The compensation that a victim of medical malpractice can recover varies a great deal due to a number of factors. By considering the medical costs incurred in recovering from medical malpractice injuries, the lost wages that result from medical malpractice injuries, and the pain and suffering that result from those medical malpractice injuries, a lawyer can determine the amount of compensation their client may be able to recover.

In addition, courts and juries will certainly be influenced by the degree of negligence that can be charged to a health professional or facility in a medical malpractice lawsuit. It takes a great deal of evidence and preparation for a medical malpractice attorney, to prove negligence. These can be costly cases, involving expert witnesses who can attest to the negligence that occurred in a medical malpractice lawsuit. In addition, determining the individual who was negligent in a medical malpractice case can be difficult. The defendants in medical malpractice lawsuits can include physicians, nurses, surgeons, hospitals that employ health professionals, pharmacies or drug manufacturers, and more. In fact, there are four elements that any malpractice attorney must prove to conclude a successful medical malpractice lawsuit:
  • The legal duty a medical professional or institution agrees to treat a patient
  • The legal duty that was breached by a medical professional or institution causing the medical malpractice
  • Evidence that that breach of duty resulted in injury to the patient
  • The damages resulting from the breach of duty by the medical professional or institution causing the medical malpractice
Those duties can result in medical malpractice when a medical malpractice lawyer can prove that a physician or institution
  • misdiagnosed an injury or illness
  • failed to treat a patient properly or in a timely manner
  • did not follow up on the treatment appropriately
  • improperly ordered or administered prescriptions
Most states require that a victim and their attorney have their case reviewed by a medical expert in the same field as the one under consideration before they can even file a medical malpractice lawsuit. An attorney must file a certificate of merit from the medical expert signifying that the health care provider in some way deviated from the prevailing medical standards in that field and that deviation resulted in injury to the patient.

Many states have enacted laws limiting the amount of damages that can be awarded, over and above the medical costs resulting from the medical malpractice, in medical malpractice lawsuits. Those “caps” can be dollar amounts, percentages of medical costs, or a percentage of the former earning power of the patient; however, some states allow exceptions when a medical malpractice lawyer can prove that the medical malpractice or negligence was willful.

Medical Malpractice Settlements

Often an accident attorney will be able to negotiate a settlement with the attorneys of medical professionals or institutions before a medical malpractice lawsuit goes to court. Generally, the average out-of-court settlement a medical malpractice lawyer can receive their clients in medical malpractice lawsuits is over $125,000, and the average for jury trials $235,000. One of the largest medical malpractice settlements won by a personal injury attorney in recent years awarded over $9 million to the family of a 40-year-old woman who died from an undetected infection. Not all cases are that egregious, but everyone has a right to skilled medical care, and if they do not receive it, they or their families should call an experienced medical malpractice lawyer to learn if they have grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

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