Getting You The Legal Help You Need
The relationship and trust you have with your doctors, surgeons, nurses, and even a hospital is incredibly important, especially to your health, safety, and overall well-being. Unfortunately, this relationship does not always live up to the image that many people have. In fact, when a medical professional or a hospital facility breaks this trust, severe and devastating consequences can occur.
In this post, we will go into detail discussing medical and hospital malpractice. Specifically going over when a hospital can be on the hook for a patient’s injuries, the compensation a patient may be entitled to for the harm they endured, and how an experienced hospital malpractice attorney can help patients get through this challenging time in their lives and fight for the compensation and justice they deserve.
What Exactly Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is a legal cause of action that happens when a medical care professional provides a medical treatment that deviates from the standards accepted in the medical profession and consequently causes an injury to the patient.
However, for actions to constitute medical malpractice, plaintiffs need:
- A doctor-patient relationship: It first must be established that the patient was owed a duty of care by the medical professional. This is usually assumed in any doctor-patient relationship. Typically, this relationship is formed when a patient seeks medical care from the doctor, and the physician agrees to provide this treatment.
- A failure to meet the standard of care: The duty of care that is owed to the patient is based on specific medical standards recognized by the medical profession as being proper treatments by a reasonably prudent medical care professional under similar circumstances. When this standard of care is not provided to the patient, it can establish that the doctor was negligent.
- An injury resulted from the negligence: A valid medical malpractice case needs to show more than that that medical professional violated the standard of care. Rather, the patient also needs to show they were injured because of the doctor’s negligence. Unfavorable outcomes are not enough to show malpractice. Neither is an injury that resulted without negligence or if the negligence did not cause the injury.
- Significant damages resulted from the injury: Because medical malpractice lawsuits are costly to litigate. For a medical malpractice case to be viable, a patient needs to show they suffered significant damages. Otherwise, the cost of pursuing a case may be greater than the potential recovery. That is why to pursue a medical malpractice claim. You need to show that the injury resulted in a loss of income, extensive medical bills, significant pain and suffering, and even a disability.
Medical malpractice cases are incredibly complicated, so speak with an experienced hospital malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. These attorneys can go over your claim, determine if you have a viable case, and start gathering the vital evidence needed to prove what happened and who was at fault.
Examples of Malpractice in the Medical Field
Medical malpractice can take on various forms.
However, the most common examples of malpractice include:
- Medical professionals not reading laboratory results correctly
- Medical professionals failing to diagnose
- Medical professionals performing unnecessary surgeries
- Medical professionals providing improper medication or dosage
- Medical professionals performing surgery on the wrong site
- Medical professionals allowing for premature discharge
- Medical professionals not taking a patient’s history
- Medical professionals disregarding a patient’s history
- Medical professionals not performing proper follow-up care
Typically, a hospital can be legally responsible for its employees’ medical negligence. But this liability often depends on a few key factors. Medical technicians, nurses, hospital pharmacists, hospital radiologists, and other support staff are usually hospital employees. As long as these employees are doing something related to their job, and they injure a patient. The hospital can be sued for the harm the patient endured. However, when it comes to doctors working at a hospital, the situation can become rather complicated.
Is a Doctor an Employee of the Hospital?
One of the most common questions many medical malpractice victims have is whether a hospital can be liable for a doctor’s negligence. However, this answer is not always straightforward. It is essential to realize that many times doctors are not employees of hospitals. Instead, they are considered to be an independent contractor. This means the hospital cannot be held accountable for the physician’s medical malpractice, even if the malpractice occurred at the facility and the physician is affiliated with the hospital.
A physician is more likely to work as an employee of a hospital when the hospital controls their hours and vacation time. Or the hospital sets the specific fees the doctor can charge. Working with a hospital negligence attorney can help you determine whether a doctor is an employee of a hospital and if you can pursue legal action against the hospital for the doctor’s negligence.
When Is a Hospital Liable for Non-Employees?
Even though a hospital may not generally be liable for an independent contractor’s medical malpractice, they may be held accountable in certain situations. Under the theory of apparent agency, a hospital may be held liable for a patient’s injuries and damages if the patient reasonably believed the medical professional was an employee of the hospital and the hospital provided the health care professional’s services with the inference of an employee relationship.
Consequently, if a patient reasonably believed a medical care professional appeared to be an employee of the hospital, the court may consider the health care professional an employee and find the hospital liable for any malpractice that occurred.
Other Forms of Hospital Negligence
Hospital negligence can take on many different forms.
However, the most common types of negligence usually result from a hospital failing to take some action, including:
- Failing to uphold its duty to provide its patients with a reasonable amount of care toward the maintenance of their equipment and facility and their patients’ overall safety.
- Failing to check the general qualifications of their doctors and nurses who committed the negligent acts and failing to oversee them.
- Failing to conduct their duty toward creating, adopting, and enforcing policies that ensure a patient’s quality of care.
- Failing to supervise every medical care professional within their building in terms of patient care and the quality they are providing.
If you believe that a hospital was negligent and their negligence resulted in your injury, you need to speak to a skilled and experienced hospital negligence attorney as quickly as possible. These lawyers can go over the facts of your case and determine whether the hospital is liable for the harm you endured.
Holding a Hospital Liable for Malpractice: How Much Time Do You Have?
The statute of limitations is a law that dictates how much time an individual has to bring a suit for an alleged offense. If they do not bring their claim within the allotted deadline, they cannot seek compensation for their injuries.
That is why you must find a lawyer as soon as possible. These attorneys can not only determine the amount of time you have to file your case, but also ensure that all legal documents and motions are filed correctly and promptly.
In addition, just because you have a certain amount of time to file your hospital malpractice case, it does not mean you should wait that long. The longer you wait to file, the higher the likelihood is of critical evidence disappears, witnesses can no longer testify, or memories of the accident fade. Consequently, these factors can negatively impact your claim and the amount of compensation you receive.
Certificate of Merit: Do I Need One?
In some states, before you can file a claim for hospital malpractice, you need to have a “certificate of merit.” However, to file a certificate of merit, you will usually need a doctor to review your medical records and indicate where the original medical care professional was negligent.
These certificate of merits need to state that either:
- An appropriately licensed professional has provided a written statement that there is a probability that the skill, knowledge, or care exercised, that is the subject of the complaint, fell outside the appropriate professional standards and that conduct was the cause of the harm.
- The claim that the defendant deviated from the reasonable standard of care is based on allegations that other licensed professionals deviated from an acceptable professional standard, and the defendant is responsible for these other professionals.
- That expert testimony of an accepted licensed professional is not necessary for prosecution.
Compensation Available in a Hospital Lawsuit
If you have been injured because of hospital malpractice, you may be entitled to certain compensation that includes economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
Economic damages: These are actual and verifiable losses that result from the incident and include:
- Medical expenses including past, current, and future medical bills such as doctor visits, hospital stays, surgeries, and prescription medications
- Lost wages, including past and current lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- At-home nursing care
- Replacement services
- Other out-of-pocket expenses
Non-economic damages: These are rather subjective losses that result from the incident and are not easily quantified.
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of a limb
- Loss of reputation
Punitive damages: Unlike the other compensatory damages, which are intended to compensate the victim for their injuries. Punitive damages were created to punish the defendant for their egregious actions and to deter them and others from committing the same again in the future. Consequently, these damages are rarely awarded in medical cases.
How Can an Experienced Hospital Negligence Lawyer Provide You the Legal Help You Need?
Hospital malpractice claims are incredibly tedious and complicated. Not only do they require a thorough understanding of the state’s laws, but they also need detailed evidence and strong legal arguments that can help prove what happened and how the hospital was at fault for your injuries. Consequently, you must work with an experienced hospital malpractice attorney who can guide you through these complex legal processes.
Once retained, these lawyers can:
- Go over your case in detail, answer any questions you have, and determine the best legal course of action you can pursue.
- Prepare any necessary documents and paperwork such as the “certificate of merit” and ensure other motions are filed properly and on time.
- Investigate the accident and gather the critical evidence needed to show what happened and who was at fault.
- Handle all the discussions and negotiations with the defense and the insurance companies, ensuring you do not say anything that can hurt your claim while going after a fair settlement amount on your behalf.
- Bring in the medical experts that are needed to substantiate your claims.
- Take your case to trial if the other side is unwilling to negotiate and fight for maximum compensation.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to hospital malpractice, you need legal help that you can trust. Do not wait any longer. Contact an experienced hospital malpractice attorney today to fight for you and your rights.