Doctors are responsible for properly caring for a patient’s health and well-being. Unfortunately, some patients receive substandard healthcare that causes undue injury or death.
A study released by Johns Hopkins in 2016 found medical malpractice to be the third leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for 250,000 deaths per year. Surviving patients often have a diminished quality of life and substantial medical bills.
Learn about medical malpractice, common malpractice injuries, and how a medical malpractice attorney from Nessler & Associates can help you file a medical malpractice claim to get the compensation you deserve.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is when a medical professional inflicts injury on a patient due to medical negligence or omission. However, not all mistakes are considered malpractice. To be legally regarded as medical malpractice, the following conditions must be satisfied:
Violation of the Standard of Care
Specific courses of treatment are widely considered to be appropriate and acceptable for various conditions. Patients have the right to expect their healthcare professional to act in the same manner as another professional of equal training. Standards of care are guidelines set by medical researchers, government regulators, and a complex network of doctors.
For example, the tests you receive at the hospital conclude your stomach pain is appendicitis. Your doctor chooses to go against the standard of care and forgo surgery. This is considered negligent.
The Negligence Caused an Injury
A violation of care alone is insufficient to prove medical malpractice. To be considered malpractice, you and your lawyer must prove that the injury would not have been sustained had the negligence not occurred.
For example, if your appendix burst because it was not removed via surgery, you may be able to prove the negligence caused you additional pain and injury.
The Injury Led to Significant Damages
To pursue a medical malpractice claim, you must prove you have suffered extensive damages due to your negligence-related injury.
Common Types of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice can be committed by any healthcare professional. If a care worker’s treatment or behavior violates the standard of care and leads to an injury, it may be considered malpractice. Some common examples of medical malpractice include:
One of the most common sources of medical malpractice claims is misdiagnosis. A recent report found that about 1 in 18 emergency room patients are misdiagnosed, leading to about 370,000 injuries per year. Misdiagnosis occurs when a medical professional diagnoses a patient with the incorrect condition or fails to identify and diagnose a condition.
Misdiagnosis can lead to severe injuries. The patient will not receive the necessary treatment if a condition goes undiagnosed. This often causes the condition to worsen or for complications to arise. For example, even a slightly delayed diagnosis of a patient with an aggressive form of cancer can lead to worsened treatment outcomes.
Being diagnosed with the wrong condition can cause severe harm to patients by subjecting them to inappropriate treatments that can adversely affect their health. For example, taking insulin when not diabetic will cause a severe drop in glucose levels that may be fatal.
Birth-related malpractice can lead to severe complications such as brain injury, paralysis, or death in both the newborn and the mother. Birth injury malpractice can occur both during pregnancy and during childbirth itself.
During pregnancy, failure to diagnose issues with the fetus or pregnancy can cause irreparable damage, such as congenital disabilities, loss of fertility, or death. Failure to identify an ectopic pregnancy may result in severe damage to reproductive organs, lead to emergency surgery to correct, or result in death.
Birth injuries also occur during childbirth. Birth injury malpractice can include a failure to order a necessary cesarean section, failure to note the fetus is tangled in the umbilical cord or using improper methods of assisting in delivery.
After birth, malpractice can occur if doctors fail to diagnose jaundice, monitor both mom and baby’s vital signs, or diagnose and monitor the mother’s internal injuries sustained during delivery.
Another common form of medical malpractice involves the inappropriate administration of medication. These mistakes can be costly, and lead to subpar treatment results, unnecessary side effects, overdose, or death.
Medication errors include:
- Prescribing a patient an incorrect dosage
- Prescribing an incorrect medication
- Failure to notice or manage drug interactions
- Incorrectly administering a drug
- Distributing a drug to the wrong patient
A surgeon can negligently cause injuries before or during surgery. This may involve operating on an incorrect area of the body, leaving surgical equipment inside the body, or injuring a nearby organ.
Other healthcare professionals can also commit surgical errors. For example, postoperative staff may incorrectly dispense medicine, neglect standard procedures, or cause an infection in the patient.
Anesthesia errors are among the most dangerous types of malpractice, often leading to brain damage, paralysis, or death. Anesthesia errors can occur before or during surgery.
Before surgery, an anesthesiologist may neglect to consider the patient’s medical history or fail to inform them of important preoperative standards such as abstaining from eating and drinking.
During surgery, they may provide excess or insufficient anesthesia, improperly intubate the patient, or fail to monitor heart and respiratory rates properly.
How Long Do I Have to File a Medical Malpractice Claim?
For a medical malpractice claim to be valid, you must file your suit within two years from the date of the injury. If you are unaware of the injury until a later date, you have two years from the date that it could be reasonably expected for you to detect the injury to file your claim. This is often when you are first diagnosed with an injury by a medical professional.
The maximum time that can elapse from the date of the injury to your filing is four years, regardless of the circumstances. The sole exception is in the case of a minor, who must file a claim within eight years of the incident or before their twenty-second birthday, whichever arrives first.
Types of Compensation in Medical Malpractice Claims
If you’ve been injured due to medical malpractice, Nessler & Associates can help you earn compensation for your injuries and pain and suffering. Two types of potential compensation exist in medical malpractice personal injury cases: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are quantifiable costs incurred due to the healthcare provider’s negligence. These can be proven with documentation such as receipts. Typical economic damages include:
- Medical bills
- Necessary medical equipment
- In-home medical care
Non-economic damages are non-quantifiable and are issued to compensate you for the impact the practitioner had on your life. These damages can be substantial and are awarded for pain, suffering, or emotional turmoil. Some non-economic damages include:
- Lost income
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment in life
In 2010, the Illinois Supreme Court found the previous cap on medical malpractice damages unconstitutional. This decision means there is no legal cap on damages awarded for your injuries. Instead, the amount you earn will be determined by the circumstances of your case. Flagrant medical malpractice cases that lead to severe injuries may be worth multi-million dollar settlements.
Nessler & Associates secured a $3.5 million settlement for a 76-year-old victim of medical malpractice. The victim suffered a neurological injury after an incorrect contrast medium was implemented during a myelogram procedure.
How a Medical Malpractice Lawyer from Nessler & Associates Can Help
Medical malpractice lawsuits can be time-intensive and require the cooperation of several independent parties to prove your claims. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can ensure the legal process runs smoothly by helping you with the following:
Your lawyer will first prove that the medical professional violated the standard of care and was negligent. They may use a variety of evidence to prove this claim, including medical records and expert witness testimony. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer will have connections with many medical experts that can help you establish your claim.
Once negligence is proven, you and your lawyer will work together to calculate the damages caused. Any economic damages you claim must be proven with receipts, bank statements, or other documentation. An experienced attorney will understand common damages, how to prove them, and how much they may be worth in compensation.
Negotiate a Settlement
When the healthcare professional’s negligence is proven, and you’ve established your damages, your lawyer will begin negotiating a settlement. To earn you as much compensation as possible, your attorney will:
Issue a Demand Letter
The negotiation process is usually initiated through the issuance of a demand letter. This letter informs the opposing counsel of the compensation you seek and the evidence you have to prove their negligence. Your lawyer will attach medical records and other documentation that helps establish your claims.
Correspond with Opposing Counsel
Negotiations between your lawyer and the opposing counsel usually follow the demand letter. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer at Nessler & Associates will know how much your case is worth and ensure you don’t settle for less.
If the opposing counsel refuses to offer an appropriately-sized settlement, a skilled attorney will not be afraid to take your claim to court to earn you the compensation you deserve.
Lawyers at a medical malpractice law firm communicate with insurance companies and the opposing counsel on your behalf. They also ensure you’re updated on the status of your case and informed about any deadlines or tasks you need to complete.
Contact Nessler & Associates to Schedule a Free Consultation
You have a right to compensation if you were injured due to medical malpractice. The medical malpractice attorneys at Nessler & Associates have 45 years of experience handling medical malpractice cases in Illinois and earning medical malpractice victims the compensation they deserve.
Unlike other law firms, Nessler & Associates will never sell your claim short. We will fight to ensure you receive every dollar of compensation you are entitled to. Call us at (800) 727-8010 today to schedule a free consultation.
Our law firm works on a contingency fee arrangement because we believe everyone deserves the right to skilled and experienced legal representation. This means you don’t owe us a dime unless we win a verdict or settlement for your claim.