When you visit a doctor’s office or become a patient in a hospital, you expect to get better. It’s reasonable to believe that medical staff will give you the right medications and provide treatment that meets standard protocols.
But as many patients have found, exceptional care is not a given. In some cases, medical professionals make critical mistakes that cause permanent disability, injury or illness to patients.
Recent news has featured some significant malpractice verdicts and settlements. If you or a loved one have suffered harm in a medical setting, what does it take to get a jury verdict or settlement in your favor?
Medical Malpractice in the News
Across the country, juries have recently awarded significant damages to victims of medical malpractice. In some cases, patients have won favorable settlements to compensate for medical bills, pain and suffering, and other harm due to medical mistakes.
In Indiana, a court awarded $10 million to Robert Lehman, who was paralyzed from the waist down after an infection went undiagnosed. Lehman received treatment at an urgent care center in 2005 after suffering an injury at his place of employment. Urgent care staff gave him a shot, prescribed a medication and had him go back to work.
When Lehman returned to the clinic, he was in so much pain he could barely walk; a doctor prescribed another pain medication and, again, sent him back to his job. Lehman was later diagnosed in an emergency room with a rare disorder that has left him paralyzed.
The jury award to Lisa and Isaiah Ewing includes nearly $29 million for the child’s future medical expenses. Isaiah needs constant care, as he suffers from severe cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair. The lawsuit alleged that doctors and nurses made approximately 20 mistakes during Isaiah’s birth, including failure to perform a cesarean section in a timely manner despite warning signs.
Another recent medical malpractice case ended in significant settlements. In Michigan, several patients are set to receive settlements totaling $8 million after an oncologist, Farid Fata, told them they had cancer and initiated extensive chemotherapy. The doctor, who received millions of dollars from insurers for the bogus treatments, is now serving 45 years in federal prison for intentional misdiagnosis or mistreatment of patients.
Elements of a Successful Case
Medical malpractice happens when a hospital or other type of health care institution, a doctor, or another medical professional fails to provide appropriate medical care and a patient is harmed as a result. Care is expected to comply with typical standards of the medical field.
If you’ve been injured due to the action or inaction of a medical professional, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical care and other expenses. Your medical malpractice attorney will seek to establish a number of important elements to secure a jury award or settlement in your case:
- Harm occurred. First, your attorney must demonstrate that you were under the care of a doctor and that the doctor failed to act according to accepted standards in advising, diagnosing or treating you. As a result, you suffered an illness or injury, or your medical condition was made worse.
- Responsible Parties. Even if you were injured in a hospital, the hospital may not be legally at fault. Hospitals usually are liable for negligent actions of employees but not of independent contractors — which is the classification of many doctors.
- Statute of Limitations. In New York, a medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed within two and a half years from the date of the alleged malpractice or from the completion of treatment by the defendant.
- Appropriate Documentation. If you believe you’ve been injured due to medical malpractice, you’ll need copies of all your medical records. If medical malpractice resulted in the death of a loved one, an autopsy likely will be required to prove the cause of death.
Examples of medical malpractice include injuries during birth, either to a mother or to a baby; misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a condition; medication errors such as prescribing the wrong drug for a condition; failing to properly monitor a medical condition; and failing to inform a patient of the risks of a medical procedure.
What to Do if You’ve Been Hurt by Medical Care
If you’ve suffered an injury, illness or disability due to negligent medical care, it’s important to work with a qualified medical malpractice attorney. Malpractice cases can be extremely complex and costly; an experienced attorney can provide valuable guidance through every step of your case.
Medical malpractice cases can take years to litigate or come to a settlement. In the meantime, you should not give up. By working with an attorney who is knowledgeable in New York medical malpractice law, you gain the best chance of recovering the compensation you deserve. For a free consultation with a Bronx medical malpractice attorney, please contact The Law Offices of Ivan M. Diamond.