Medical malpractice can occur in any area of the medical field and injuries tend to be serious. Since we rely on our medical providers to treat our symptoms, failure in their job can lead no only to worsened conditions but additional injuries as well. When this occurs, it may be possible for the victim to file a medical malpractice claim against the doctor or nurse responsible. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about medical malpractice.
What is medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice is a specific area of tort law that deals with professional negligence specifically concerning medical treatment. While it may be tempting to consider any unsatisfactory medical treatment to be malpractice, determining malpractice has a certain process. Medical providers are judged based on a standard of care established for their specific specialty, experience and responsibility. Medical malpractice includes any professional with influence over an individual's health and well-being including doctors, nurses, medical technicians, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies.
What constitutes a medical malpractice case?
In order to have a solid medical malpractice claim, an individual will have to prove three main elements. First, an established doctor/patient relationship must have existed prior to the injuries that the plaintiff is claiming to show that the doctor named in the claim had a duty of care owed to his or her patient, the plaintiff. Secondly, the plaintiff must show that the doctor breached that duty of care by giving treatment that fell below the standard of care. This would establish a breach of duty. Lastly, the plaintiff must show that the breach of duty was the direct cause of injury. In other words, had the doctor performed up to that standard no injuries would have been sustained.
What is the standard of care in a medical malpractice case?
While the standard of care in other personal injury matters is usually established by the state, the standard of care for medical professionals is actually established through a comparison. In order to show that the doctor in the claim fell below the standard of care, the plaintiff must show that another reasonable doctor with similar experience, in a similar profession and under the same circumstances would have performed differently.
Can I sue a doctor for simply making a mistake?
No. Unfortunately, simply showing that the doctor breached his or her duty is not enough to file a medical malpractice. There must be actual damage in a medical malpractice claim in order for there to be any compensation. This means that the patient must have sustained actual injury from the mistake such that would not have occurred if the mistake had not existed.
If I was
misdiagnosed, can I sue?
That depends. Diagnostic medicine is one of the most complex areas of the medical field and there is always a degree of uncertainty assumed. The key element to proving that a mistake in diagnosis was due to malpractice is to show that the doctor acted below the standard of care and that any reasonable doctor would have been able to diagnose the condition accurately.
How long do I have to file a medical malpractice claim?
In California, an individual has one year to file a medical malpractice claim against the person or party they believe is responsible for their injuries. This time frame begins either from the date that the injury was sustained or from the date that the injury or condition should have been or was reasonably discovered. There is an exception to this rule for children under that age of six, the action must be filed either three years from the date of the injury or before the child turns eight – which ever time is longer. It may be possible that some other variations apply to special situations. If you are considering a medical malpractice claim, contact a medical malpractice attorney immediately to ensure that your time frame does not run out before you have a chance to act.
If you have additional questions about filing a medical malpractice claim and what can make your case stronger, contact a San Fernando Valley personal injury lawyer from The Law Offices of Gerald L. Marcus. Each individual situation is unique, but the experienced counsel from a professional in the legal field can help your chances of a favorable outcome. Call today and receive a free initial case evaluation completely free of charge.