The Advantages of Hiring a Lawyer for Medical Malpractice ClaimsA qualified Orlando injury attorney can help injury victims navigate the personal injury claims process and increase the odds that they will receive the funds they deserve to compensate them for the expenses, pain and suffering that resulted from their injuries.
- An attorney can advise their clients about the compensation they should expect. Many doctors and hospitals—and their insurance companies— regularly prepare for the possibility of medical malpractice claims. As a result, they often respond rapidly to a claim, sometimes offering a settlement well below the amount the malpractice victim deserves for their injuries. If the victim chooses to work with an experienced medical malpractice attorney, the attorney can provide clear, easy-to-understand advice about how much they should ask for and what they should expect the insurance company to offer. The accident victim can then make a well-informed decision about how to proceed after the insurance company makes a settlement offer.
- A medical malpractice lawyer can consult and negotiate with the insurance company for their client. Dealing with insurance companies, especially if they are attempting to avoid liability for a medical malpractice claim, can be extremely stressful. Most accident victims have more than enough to handle already as they try to recover from their injuries. Accident victims who choose to hire a medical malpractice attorney can allow their attorney to take care of those conversations for them.
- The Orlando medical malpractice attorney can help provide advice about how their client should conduct themselves to preserve their claims. Often, accident victims have many questions about the claims process, including what they should expect and what the insurance company will expect of them. An attorney can help answer those important questions and prepare them for what to expect as they go through the claims process.
Understanding Medical Malpractice LawsuitsAll medical providers, including doctors, nurses, techs, pharmacists, hospitals, clinics, emergency rooms, etc. have a duty of care to provide their patients with a high standard of care. Florida law states that patients should expect “that level of care, skill, and treatment which, in light of all relevant surrounding circumstances, is recognized as acceptable and appropriate by reasonably prudent similar health care providers.” A practitioner's failure to provide that standard of care may constitute medical malpractice.
Common Types of Medical MalpracticeHealth provider errors that constitute medical malpractice may include: Misdiagnosis. When a medical practitioner fails to diagnose their patients properly or they diagnose a patient with the wrong condition, they may prescribe treatments that cause the patient substantial physical and emotional pain and suffering. Misdiagnosis can only be the basis of a medical malpractice claim when, given the symptoms the patient presented and the results of any tests the provider conducted, a reasonable similar health care provider would have accurately diagnosed the patient. Failure to diagnose. In some medical malpractice cases, rather than diagnosing a patient incorrectly, a medical provider might fail to diagnose them at all. Failure to treat a patient's illness or injury may cause the patient unnecessary pain or a prolonged recovery. In some cases, failure to diagnose may result in the patient's death. If the medical provider should reasonably have diagnosed the patient based on the symptoms the patient presented, the provider may face a medical malpractice claim. Surgical errors. Sometimes, surgeons make errors that can have long-term or even lifelong consequences for a patient. Most surgeons take extreme precautions to ensure that accidents do not happen, but they are still human, and errors do occur. Surgical errors may include:
- Leaving surgical materials or equipment inside the patient.
- Operating on the wrong part of the body; the right arm instead of the left, for example.
- Damage to other organs or tissues during the surgery.
- Improper administration of anesthesia during the surgery.
- Introducing foreign bacteria into the patient's body with non-sterile equipment.
- Performing the wrong surgical procedure on the patient.
- Facial paralysis
- Traumatic brain injury
- Brachial palsy
Determining Responsibility in a Medical Malpractice CaseIn a medical malpractice lawsuits, if a physician was involved in the incident, they often take responsibility. Typically, a physician is responsible to provide a higher level of care to their patients than their nursing or other medical support staff. But sometimes the physician was not actually responsible for the mistake that led to the patient's injury, and someone else bears the blame. Working with an attorney can help medical malpractice victims determine who actually bears responsibility in their medical malpractice case. To make this determination, a medical malpractice victim must answer several key questions:
- Who provided the care that led to the injury? In a failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis case, for example, several physicians may all have observed the victim's symptoms or participated in their care. In such a case, the victim would need to determine which physician actually bore responsibility for the diagnosis.
- Who made the medical error? In a medication error case, for example, the injured victim may need to assess whether a doctor wrote the prescription with the wrong medication or dosage, or if it was the pharmacist who accidentally filled the prescription wrong. Or perhaps a nurse miscalculated a medication dose during a hospital stay. To determine who bears legal responsibility, the accident victim (or their attorney) must figure out who was actually responsible for the error.
- Is the medical practitioner an employee at the facility where the patient was treated, or are they an independent contractor? In some cases, medical practitioners work directly for the medical facility where they work. In such a case, the facility may bear responsibility for any legal expenses associated with a medical malpractice claim. In other cases, the doctor may work as an independent contractor. Sometimes, such as during a hospital stay, a patient may deal both with practitioners employed by the hospital and practitioners who work as independent contractors.
Calculating Damages from Your Medical Malpractice ClaimIn a medical malpractice claim, a victim's damages will depend on many different factors. They are likely, for example, to receive more for serious injuries than for minor ones. They may also receive more if they can claim damages from multiple practitioners or medical facilities. However, many medical malpractice claims are made up of the following elements:
- Medical expenses. Often, medical malpractice leads to considerable medical expenses. A victim may have already paid for unnecessary medical care in the case of misdiagnosis. Or, if the victim suffered physical injury due to medical malpractice, they may still have more medical expenses ahead of them. A victim can seek compensation for medical expenses, including potential future medical expenses, as part of their medical malpractice claim.
- Pain and suffering. Medical malpractice does not just cause physical pain and suffering, though both unnecessary medical treatments and failure to provide necessary medical treatment can cause a victim substantial pain. Incorrect diagnosis or a lack of a diagnosis can cause the patient substantial trauma. A medical malpractice victim may include a request for compensation for that suffering as part of their claim.
- Lost wages. A medical malpractice victim who was forced to miss work because of the medical negligence may include lost wages as part of their claim. They may also choose to include lost earning potential if medical malpractice causes significant enough injuries to prevent them from returning to work at their previous job.
Insurance ChallengesInsurance companies are so good at dealing with medical malpractice that victims often need to fight to get the full compensation they deserve. The insurance company may:
- Offer a low initial settlement soon after the provider reports the medical malpractice
- Try to prove that the victim consented to an unwanted procedure or that they knew about side effects the doctor neglected to explain
- Attempt to prove medical malpractice did not cause extended pain and suffering