Medical malpractice is when a medical professional does not give the kind of medical care that was expected of him or her and causes either injury or death to the patient. Even as common as medical malpractice cases have become, many people do not know much about this subject. This article will give you some crucial facts about this terrible issue.
In the United States alone, it is estimated that about 195,000 people die each year due to medical errors. Each year, about 15,000 to 19,000 cases of medical malpractice are filed in court. Obviously, these statistics show that not enough people are following lawsuits when doctors make mistakes, since these statistics indicate that there could be many more if people knew what to do when a professional error or mistake is made. The sad part is that most people do not know.
Now, let’s discuss how a medical malpractice case works. The plaintiff is the person who has received injury from the medical professional. If the person who was injured has passed away, the executor or this person’s estate will be the plaintiff.
The defendant in these kinds of cases is usually a physician, but can also be another kind of health care provide, like a therapist or nurse, or it could even be the hospital in general if a series of mistakes were made by the institution.
In order to be successful with their claim, the plaintiff needs to prove three things:
1. A legal duty existed- this is the duty of the medical professional to provide the patient with treatment, and that appropriate research was done to assure that the proper steps were taken.
2. Said duty was breached- this means the medical professional did not provide proper care.
3. This lack of proper care caused an injury or death. 4. Damage, whether emotional or monetary, occurred.
The case begins when either the plaintiff or their attorney files a suit with their local jurisdiction’s court system. Prior to any kind of trial beginning, both parties need to provide the judge with discovery information, which includes deposition, documents, interrogatories. During this time period, both parties are sometimes able to come to an agreement, preventing a trial from occurring. However, when both parties do not agree, the judge will tell both parties that the case will go to trial.
The fact is that the vast majority of medical malpractice cases do not go to trial. The reason for this is because if the hospital, clinic, or doctor knows that they made a mistake, and they know that the patient or patient’s family documented all these steps during the administering of the steps, the case will be settled out of court, typically with a restraining order that the plaintiff may not discuss the details of the settlement with the press. This is done to avoid the tremendous amount of bad press that the hospital, clinic or doctor would receive if the case actually went to court.
If the case were to go to trial, the plaintiff has the burden to prove that the defendant committed medical malpractice. This is done in the same way as any other trial; witnesses are called to the stand, evidence is viewed and a verdict is made either by a jury or a judge. If the plaintiff wins the case, the whole case will be looked at and the amount the plaintiff awarded will be based on exactly what damage occurred. However, the defendant does have a certain amount of time to file an appeal. The amount of time varies per state, but typically, defendants get 30 days to do this.
While there are many real, genuine cases of medical malpractice, there are also some cases where the plaintiff tries to get more for their emotional suffering. For this, some states have limited the amount a person can receive for this problem.
In conclusion, it is sad that so many people do not get the care they need from their medical provider. When the worst happens, medical malpractice needs to be looked in. Use the tips above if you ever find yourself in this position.