Types of Medical Malpractice
Any negligent error in the course of medical treatment can become the basis of a medical malpractice case, but certain phases of medical care are more likely to lead to serious mistakes by doctors. Misdiagnosis, in which the doctor fails to identify the source of the medical problem correctly or quickly enough, and errors in medication selection or dosage are among the most common types of negligence that lead to successful medical malpractice cases. Improper administration of anesthesia, failure to secure informed consent before procedures are performed, wrongful amputation, or failure to provide appropriate treatment can also be the basis of successful malpractice litigation.
A recent survey by the American Academy of Family Physicians found that no single condition accounted for even five percent of successful medical malpractice claims.
Some procedures and types of care do give rise to more mistakes than others, however. Birth injury cases, in which a medical professional causes permanent injury to a child by making a preventable error during or shortly after delivery, are quite common.
At the other end of life, elder abuse perpetrated by negligent employees of retirement homes can also be considered medical malpractice. Wrongful death qualifies as malpractice if it occurs as a result of a doctor's error during surgery or another medical treatment. Unnecessary brain injury caused by medical professionals is yet another type of malpractice.
Elements of a Malpractice Case
Like most legal proceedings, medical malpractice lawsuits have acquired a set of standard elements that must be proved and standards that must be met if the plaintiff is to be victorious.
- First, the medical malpractice plaintiff's attorney must establish that the physician or other defendants were obligated by law to treat the patient.
- Next, the plaintiff must prove that this duty was breached, either by failure to provide treatment or by failure to meet relevant standards in providing it; this task is often accomplished using expert testimony from another doctor familiar with the field.
- The third step is to demonstrate that the errors in treatment caused injury to the patient, and the last is to show that these injuries caused damages (physical or emotional losses).
Because of the technical nature of these lawsuits, it is crucial that medical malpractice plaintiffs have an experienced, knowledgeable professional on their side when going to court. Personal injury lawyer, Sean M. Burke has tried, won, and settled many such cases, and in doing so has built up the expertise necessary to discern whether a medical malpractice case has merit and what possible damages can be recovered.
Legal Deadlines and Restrictions
Victims of medical malpractice seeking the services of an attorney to prosecute their cases should be aware of legal deadlines and restrictions that can affect the success of their suits. Under California's statute of limitations there are strict time limits that apply to these types of cases.
Once the claimant learns that he has suffered an injury due to medical malpractice it is important to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Cases may be brought on behalf of children injured prior to turning six up until the date that the child turns eight. Non-economic damages — those awarded for physical and emotional pain and suffering, rather than impaired ability to earn a living — cannot exceed $250,000 for any single medical malpractice injury or death. In some cases, government agencies and their employees may be legally immune to being sued. Because of these restrictions, it is important that you discuss your medical malpractice case with an attorney as soon as possible if you think you may be a victim.
Discuss Your Case with an Attorney
Modern physicians are trained to use carefully chosen medical practices and treatments to keep us healthy and alive longer than previous generations. When they fail to perform their jobs up to acceptable standards, the only way for patients to receive due justice is often through medical malpractice law. Attorney Sean M. Burke and our team of attorneys are committed to helping his clients restore their lives to as normal a state as possible. Please give us a call at (949) 438-4416, or contact us online to discuss your case.