An estimated 225,000 people die each year in America due to some type of medical malpractice involving incorrect diagnosis, surgical mistakes and failure to properly treat the patient’s condition. While we often hear of large malpractice awards being given to claimants, only two percent of those injured due to negligent care ever take the time to pursue a medical malpractice claim.
How A Medical Professional Makes Mistakes
Medical errors are amongst the leading cause of death in the United States and account for nearly 98,000 deaths each year. While most doctors are competent professionals, they are not infallible. However, negligence or failure to comply with the standard level of care may be a serious situation in which the doctor may be held liable for all losses caused by his or her failure to meet acceptable professional standards.
Mistakes made by medical professionals result in medical malpractice when a physician fails to exercise the level of care that a reasonable and prudent medical professional would exercise in the same or similar circumstances. There are a variety of situations in which a case can be brought against a medical professional that may include:
- Misuse of medical equipment
- Improper prescribing of medications
- Physician failure to obtain patient consent for medical procedures
- Failure to properly diagnose and treat a disease
- Surgical, anesthetic or other errors that harm a patient
There are numerous factors that may lead to these mistakes being made and some of the most common include:
- Alcohol or drugs impairing the doctor’s judgment
- Poor or illegible handwriting that leads to errors in the medications being prescribed
- Failure to listen attentively to complaints made by the patient
- Failure to perform the proper diagnostic tests
- Failure to diagnose or misdiagnose the patient’s symptoms
- Misinterpretation of test results or failure to take the proper action when abnormal results are present
Some doctor’s mistakes may go unreported because the patient was not aware of the mistake or because the medical professional is reluctant to admit their mistake due to fear of being held liable. When doctors violate patients’ rights out of carelessness or negligence, they can and should be held accountable for their actions.
Many states require that the plaintiff’s case includes a medical expert in the same field to testify as to why the defendant’s conduct was negligent. Individuals on the jury often rely on this type of testimony in order to understand how the plaintiff should have acted in a more reasonable manner.
How Damages Are Determined
There are basically two types of medical malpractice damages the plaintiff can sue for which are called compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages include both economic and noneconomic losses, such as:
- The costs for medical care, including hospital bills, medical equipment, prescriptions, ambulance fees and rehabilitation treatment.
- Pain and suffering the victim endured which may be temporary or last an entire lifetime. The plaintiff may receive a higher damage award if it’s likely that their condition will require long-term treatment or additional surgical procedures.
- Mental anguish and emotional distress can be proven if the victim is suffering from post-traumatic stress due to the injuries sustained.
- Temporary or permanent disfigurement or disability can leave the plaintiff unable to enjoy their life and preclude them from opportunities they would have normally been afforded had the injury not occurred.
- Loss of consortium can occur when the victim is unable to engage in normal marital relations with their spouse. Their loved ones may be able to show that their personal relationship has been destroyed, leaving them a victim as well.
- Lost earning potential can be the direct result of the plaintiff’s condition, preventing them from working in their professional field. The victim can sue for both current and future lost income.
The court may choose to award punitive damages if the conduct of the defendant was found to be grossly negligent or caused by a wanton disregard for the victim. These types of damages are used to punish the defendant for their egregious conduct and hopefully deter others from misbehaving in a similar manner in the future.
Obtaining Monetary Damages For Your Malpractice Claim
Our medical malpractice attorneys are skilled at uncovering relevant evidence during the discovery process. They know what type of evidence will be allowed at trial and how it can be used against the defendant. We often help the claimant recover damages for the client’s out of pocket expenses in addition to recovering money lost due to the victim being unable to return to work.
Contact Our Medical Malpractice Attorneys
If you or someone you love was injured or may have been injured by the action or inaction of a medical professional, it is critical that you seek legal assistance as soon as you discover your injury. Our medical malpractice attorneys are knowledgeable in all types of medical malpractice claims. We have offices in Feasterville, Pennsylvania, and represent clients throughout the area. This includes residents of Bensalem and Levittown. Contact us today to schedule a no-cost evaluation with a skilled attorney that will provide answers to many of the questions that you have.