Medical malpractice is usually an honest mistake. In most cases, tired and overworked medical personnel could make an error with no malice or ill intent. Mistakes, though, even when honest, still can cause harm. In particular, in a field like medicine, which has almost no margin of error, the costs of mistakes can be significant. When that happens, the victims are often left with medical bills, lost income from missing work, and challenging emotional and psychological conditions as well.
The costs of medical malpractice are the responsibility of those who made the error. However, the medical malpractice insurance that they carry is the means by which the restitution is paid out. As one can probably expect, these insurance companies try not to make it a habit to pay out anything more than the minimum they can get away with. Fortunately, the legal process of filing a claim against those who have committed medical malpractice offers an avenue for victims to get what they’re owed. At the Tatum Law Firm, we help our clients use the legal process to seek the compensation they deserve.
The act of a professional person or institution failing to live up to the standards of their profession is referred to as malpractice. When that profession is medicine and healthcare, the malpractice is medical malpractice. This means there are a number of different options regarding who could be liable in a medical malpractice claim, including:
The key to a successful medical malpractice claim is being able to prove negligence on the part of the defendant. Since medical malpractice is a variation of personal injury, the process for proving this negligence is similar to the standard personal injury process, with some adjustments to account for the unique nature of medicine and healthcare. There are generally three key components to proving negligence:
Compensation in a civil case is referred to as damages. To receive damages, your lawyer must be able to connect the costs that you are seeking compensation for to the injury that occurred as a result of the breach of duty. In other words, the damages must compensate for the costs that the injury created. In most medical malpractice claims, the damages are divided into two groups: economic and non-economic.
Many of the costs associated with medical malpractice have some sort of financial accounting associated with them. This means they are generally easy to calculate. Those easily calculable financial costs are paid out with economic damages. All the medical bills, lost wages from missing work, future medical bills, and lost earning capacity are paid through economic damages.
The financial costs, though, are only a part of the costs associated with medical malpractice. Things like pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment in life are examples of the kinds of psychological and emotional costs that can come from medical malpractice. Of course, these issues aren’t the kinds of things that can be solved by money, but the financial award can ease stress and burdens in the other parts of a person’s life, hopefully creating space for them to manage these particular issues.
There may also be some cases where punitive damages are awarded, but this is limited to situations where the defendant’s actions or inaction were seen as egregious or malicious.
Non-economic damages used to be capped and could significantly limit the amount of money that could be awarded in a medical malpractice claim. However, this cap was found to be unconstitutional, and it no longer applies.
The other thing that could reduce the damages you’re able to take home is Georgia’s contributory negligence rules. These give the defendant in a claim the chance to argue that the plaintiff was also to blame for their condition. If the court finds that the plaintiff is at least half at fault for the situation, they cannot collect any damages. If it is less than half, then the damages awarded will be reduced proportionately to the share of damage that they are determined to have. If a plaintiff is shown to be 40% to blame and the full damage award was going to be $500,000, then they can only collect $300,000.
For victims of medical malpractice, it can feel like a betrayal of trust. They visit a doctor, have surgery, or make use of a medical institution with the belief that it will help make them better. For most people, the worst possible outcome is that the efforts of the medical system would be neutral, leaving their condition to continue along its normal progression. Unfortunately, though, there are times when the worst-case outcome is that a patient is actually made worse off by their encounter with the medical care system.
When a patient ends up being harmed by medical personnel, facilities, or equipment, they have a legal right to seek restitution for the harm they’ve suffered. They are supposed to be compensated through the insurance policies that cover medical malpractice. Unfortunately, though, the expenses of medical malpractice and their desire to not hurt their bottom line means these companies typically will try hard to avoid paying what they should. That’s why we at the Tatum Law Firm are prepared to fight hard for our clients and seek everything that they’re owed. If you are ready to receive what you deserve as the victim of medical malpractice, get in touch with us today.