Doctors and other medical personnel aren’t immune to mistakes. Like anyone, they can make an error. With long hours, crowded schedules, and exhaustion likely adding to the possibility of an error, the risk of something going wrong is one of the realities of using the healthcare system. When that happens, though, it is the responsibility of those who make the mistake to compensate, usually through insurance, the victims of those mistakes. This process isn’t always easy or smooth, but if you work with the Tatum Law Firm, we are ready to use every option we can to get you what you’re owed.
In most instances, it’s likely that a medical professional, such as a doctor, nurse, or surgeon, is the party that is liable for medical malpractice. There are, though, circumstances where the malpractice may be some other party’s responsibility. Malpractice is a form of negligence from a professional duty. There are several different entities that could be considered to have a professional duty in a medical situation. Some of these include:
A medical malpractice claim is a subset of personal injury claims, so the process for proving liability is similar. However, a medical malpractice claim involves a few variations that specifically address the unique nature of healthcare. Medical malpractice can be particularly challenging because the medical process contains significant amounts of terminology and procedures that are foreign to most people. It is critical to the success of your case that you work with a lawyer who is able to make the complex nature of medicine understandable for everyone in the court. This is often done through the help of calling expert witnesses to communicate medical ideas. There are a few different elements necessary to prove that medical malpractice occurred.
The first thing that needs to be shown is what the patient could have expected from the medical staff and institution. The standard of care describes what should have reasonably been done in a given medical situation. The details of this standard depend on the condition involved. For instance, if it’s a fairly common condition, then it’s possible that the standard of care could be rigid and detailed. However, if a condition is rare, there is likely much more flexibility for what may be considered valid by the medical system.
In the case of a very rare condition where there is no standard treatment protocol, the standard of care involves doctors, nurses, and staff doing due diligence investigating the situation, monitoring properly, and not having medication errors. The standard of care, though, may not extend to the particulars of the treatment plan that the doctors put in place. There may be more flexibility for unconventional treatment because there is no consensus around what’s most effective.
Once it’s shown what the standard of care is for the medical situation in question, it must then be shown that the standard was not met by the defendants and would be a breach of their duty. To demonstrate that the standard was not met, the plaintiff’s team must show what action or inaction the defendants committed in the situation and then explain why that didn’t rise to the level of the standard of care. This, along with showing the standard of care, is often done by calling expert witnesses who give their informed opinions on both aspects.
Finally, there must be a connection between the breach of study and an injury suffered by the plaintiff. If there was an error, but it didn’t actually do any harm, then there is no malpractice. The harm could take a few different forms. The easiest harm to prove is when there is a new injury or condition as a result of the breach. There is, though, a possibility that the breach affected the plaintiff’s original condition. It could have worsened the original condition, or it may have prolonged the time for that condition to heal and be resolved. These things can be a little harder to prove. However, expert witnesses may be able to provide a reasonable explanation of how the breach negatively impacted the plaintiff.
The costs associated with a medical malpractice claim are paid out through damages. These costs are a part of the claim proceedings, as the plaintiff must show that they are a direct result of the breach of duty. The defendant will have the opportunity to challenge the damages being requested. Most of the time, the damages awarded are divided into two categories:
Another potential form of damages that could be awarded is punitive damages. These are reserved for cases where there is something about the behavior of the defendant that was malicious or particularly egregious. This isn’t usually the case with medical malpractice. However, if something about an institutional policy was particularly dangerous or if there was some attempt to fraudulently hide the malpractice, there is a chance that punitive damages could be awarded.
One of the concerns that many people have is if there is some way in which their potential damage award could be reduced. One thing that could affect it is a cap. Like many states,
Georgia currently has no cap on economic or non-economic damages for medical malpractice that could be awarded. There could be a cap on punitive damages if they apply to a case.
What could limit a plaintiff’s potential damage award, though, is contributory negligence. The way contributory negligence works is that the defendant’s lawyer may try to prove that the plaintiff had some fault or responsibility for the situation. If successful, a percentage of fault for the plaintiff will be determined. If that percentage is 50% or greater, then the plaintiff will be unable to receive any damages. For any percentage under 50%, though, the plaintiff will receive damages that are discounted proportionate to their share of fault.
A medical malpractice lawyer, like at the Tatum Law Firm, can help give your case a strong chance at success. We usually begin with a thorough investigation of the case. Because medicine is complex and not always something that’s easy for many non-medical professionals to understand, we have a variety of resources and professionals we can rely on. They can help ensure we have a clear understanding of what’s going on medically with your case and the implications of the actions of all parties involved. After our investigation, we’ll have a clear picture of who is and isn’t a potentially liable party.
Medical malpractice is usually paid out by insurance companies. As your legal representation, we can negotiate with these companies on your behalf. There are some cases where a settlement may be preferable to a court case. Taking a claim to court can be an expensive process, particularly in terms of time. It may not be worth it to wait years to receive your money. Taking a case to court also opens you up to the risk of a ruling that’s not in your favor.
When you work with us at the Tatum Law Firm, we can work toward a settlement that will get you the compensation you need. Should the case go to court, we are more than prepared to argue before the judge and jury, call witnesses as needed, and explain why you deserve restitution.
When you count on the medical system for care, you are putting yourself in the hands of doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals. You’re counting on them to see that your situation is properly assessed and that appropriate treatment is administered. The medical system, though, is still run by humans, and humans make mistakes. There’s no avoiding that reality, but mistakes can sometimes be costly. They can lead to new injuries or prolong the situation you originally sought help with. That can mean new medical bills, pain and suffering, and other costs. The cost of these things is the responsibility of those who created the situation. Legally, you are owed restitution for these costs incurred.
Medical malpractice is a tremendous expense for the healthcare industry every year. The insurance companies that pay out on these claims are usually not eager to do so. This means that while you are owed compensation, you may have to put up a fight to get it. We understand that when you’re dealing with the exhaustion and stress involved with being a victim of medical malpractice, the idea of having to be involved in a fight to get what you’re owed can sound like more than you may want to handle. That’s why, at the Tatum Law Firm, we fight on your behalf and seek to get you everything you deserve while making the situation as little of a burden on you as possible. If you’re ready to have someone take a look at your potential medical malpractice case, contact us today.