When you place your health and well-being in the hands of a doctor or hospital, you assume that they will take the best possible care of you. While most people know doctors are fallible human beings, they also have high expectations of the medical practitioners who are responsible for diagnosing their illness, treating their injuries, and keeping their bodies as healthy as possible.
Unfortunately, not all doctors provide adequate care. In some cases, doctors may actually cause their patients serious harm, leaving patients to deal with the results of their medical malpractice. If you were injured by a medical practitioner, contact Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, and Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH) to schedule a free consultation.
The Advantages of Hiring a Lawyer for a Medical Malpractice Claim
A qualified 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 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.
At the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman, we have extensive experience helping our clients through all of the aspects of a medical malpractice claim. In many cases, we have been successful in helping our clients secure much larger settlements from their medical provider’s insurance company than they could have negotiated on their own. For many people, the likelihood that an attorney will secure a much larger settlement is more than enough reason to hire a lawyer to help them with their medical malpractice claim.
Understanding Medical Malpractice
All 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 Malpractice
Health 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 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.
In some cases, surgeons must perform a different surgical procedure on the patient than they originally planned based on what they discover once they begin the surgical process. In the case of life-saving interventions, the surgeon typically will not face legal repercussions if they change course during a surgery for legitimate medical reasons.
Failure to properly treat a patient. In some cases, a medical provider may properly diagnose a patient, but fail to provide the proper treatment for that diagnosis. The practitioner must make every effort to provide the patient with reasonable treatment that will manage their symptoms or help cure the disease or injury. Patients can turn down procedures or treatments, but as long as the provider presented the patient with reasonable options, the consequences of refusing the treatment do not reflect on the provider.
Treating a patient without consent. Medical practitioners must provide all of their patients with full information about their diagnoses, potential treatments, and the risks associated with those treatments. In many cases, a patient might decide not to go forward with a specific treatment based on its potential side effects. If a treatment causes side effects the medical practitioner did not describe, and the patient would not have chosen the treatment had they known about those particular potential side effects, they may have grounds to file a medical malpractice claim. A medical practitioner typically does not bear responsibility for medical malpractice if they offered life-saving intervention to a patient who was unable to give consent at the time, even if they would not have given their consent. A physician can also receive permission from family members of a minor child or patient who cannot give consent for a procedure.
Negligence in childbirth. Birth injuries often have long-term repercussions for children and their families. Doctors frequently must make fast calls during childbirth based on available information. Is it time for a C-section? Are interventions necessary to protect the lives and health of both mother and child? Sometimes, doctors make the best call based on the information they have available. But sometimes, doctors make the wrong call, and the child or mother ends up with serious injuries as a result. Birth injuries may include:
- Facial paralysis
- Traumatic brain injury
- Brachial palsy
Medication errors. Sometimes, medical practitioners can be subject to medical malpractice claims based on errors they make in prescribing or dispensing medications. Over-prescribing medication, for example, can lead a patient to overdose, which, in some cases, leads to the patient’s death. Practitioners also sometimes prescribe a medication to which the patient has a known allergy, even when the patient has previously informed them of that allergy. And sometimes, practitioners simply prescribe the wrong medication for their patient’s condition. All of these mistakes can lead to serious consequences for a patient, and may form the basis for a medical malpractice claim.
Determining Responsibility in a Medical Malpractice Case
In a medical malpractice case, 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 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 Claim
In 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 malpractice 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 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
Working with a lawyer can help a victim more effectively cut through insurance red tape to get the compensation they deserve.
Call the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA or Sibley Dolman if a Doctor Injured You
If you were the victim of medical malpractice in the Orlando area, the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman may be able to help. With offices across both Florida coasts, you can easily reach Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, and Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH), or send us a confidential email to schedule your free consultation and learn more about your legal rights following medical malpractice.