Medical malpractice happens when you are given the wrong medication, misdiagnosed, or undergo a procedure that is improperly performed. These mistakes can lead to injuries, and in extreme cases, death. Most victims of medical malpractice do not know what to do if they suffer injuries or death (of loved ones) due to medical malpractice. That is why we at the Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney are here to help you seek compensation under the personal injury laws. Please get in touch with us as soon as possible so that we can help you file a compensation claim within the legal timeframe.
Understanding Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice may vary from one victim to another, and depending on the procedure one was going through or the treatment they were undertaking. Medical malpractice happens when a health practitioner such as a doctor, psychiatrist, or an institution violates their standard of care while offering a patient treatment, and the patient sustains injuries or dies because of the violation.
There are various claims a person can seek when injured. Medical malpractice claim is considered a negligence claim. This is because medical practitioners have a duty known as the standard of care. This is an acceptable practice across all medical professions used while treating patients under similar situations. This requires a variety of factors to be analyzed. These include the age of the patient, their health before seeking treatment, and the particulars of the condition, which differ for each patient.
When a violation of the standard of care is done, it constitutes medical negligence. Many medical procedures or treatments can result in malpractice. These may include diagnosis, medication, surgery, treatment of mental health, administration of particular processes, among many. This means many activities in the medical field can warrant malpractice, and practitioners must be careful to avoid it.
Statute of Limitations
Even when the damage that a person suffers from medical malpractice alters their lives or results in death, the law puts a limit for seeking damages for medical negligence. The law allows the victim of medical malpractice or their surviving relative to petition for losses within a given time. If they fail to sue for damages within the given time, they lose their right to compensation. In California, the period is three years from the time a patient discovered the injuries.
A statute of limitations, however, only applies when a victim needs to have the court involved in recovering damages. Even with the expiration of the statute, a victim can still recover damages through the malpractice insurance cover of the health practitioner or the hospital.
Causes of Medical Malpractice in California
Negligence is a common cause of medical malpractice. The injury sustained is, however, essential and a primary issue in a claim or is the reason for the application. Knowing the problems that constitute medical malpractice is critical because some patients may not realize that they qualify for damages. The various causes of malpractice are:
- Sustaining an Injury Due to an Infection
Injuries in medical malpractice can be due to infections. When the patient is not well supervised, they can develop infections due to germs, being close to other ill patients, or hospital equipment. An infection can quickly hold and result in sepsis when severe. A patient’s blood can get poisoned, and damage organs when not well treated or promptly contained. The medical staff or doctors are held accountable for the injuries if their negligence leads to the infection.
- Improper Dosage of Medicine
When a doctor issues a patient with incorrect dosage, they can get sued for medical malpractice. When a doctor administers the wrong dosage, a patient can suffer catastrophic injuries. Some drugs, when wrongly used, can alter the bodily functions of a patient in unpleasant ways. The overdose of medicines, especially pain killers, can result in the death of a patient. Other drugs, when administered, can cause other conditions the patient didn’t have, such as increased sugar levels in the blood. When the sugar levels in the blood increase drastically, a patient can suffer from a diabetic coma.
When a patient with high blood pressure has overdosed on their medicine, they can suffer from low blood pressure. This is likely to affect the body for an extended period.
- Administering of Wrong Medication
Aside from giving an improper dosage of medication, a doctor can also provide the wrong medicine to a patient. When a patient takes drugs for a condition they do not have, in some cases, it can result in permanent damages or death. Inaccurate treatment sometimes happens when medical practitioners want to establish a patient problem before administering a more substantial dosage. A small dose may not be harmful, but when treated with a more significant dosage, it can result in detrimental damages.
Infections can sometimes result in sepsis or a worse kind of damage due to the poisoning of the blood and injuries to the internal body. After an infection, sepsis is typically the next step. Some patients can suffer a septic shock. This is where the patient’s body begins to break down, and the bodily processes slow down. If the medical practitioners notice this in time, they can save the patient’s life if they treat them fast.
Sepsis is not common unless the infection is severe. If the medical staff becomes negligent while handling the condition, the patient can die under their care. This will lead to a lawsuit for wrongful death in medical malpractice.
- Egregious Mistakes
When the medical staff act in gross negligence, they can perform egregious errors. If a patient suffers injuries due to gross negligence or egregious mistakes, both the doctor and hospital can be held liable. In California, when gross negligence is shown in a medical malpractice case, the judge would also award the victim punitive damages.
These kinds of errors are what often lead to sepsis or significant damages. Sometimes, sponges or equipment is forgotten inside the patient’s body. These can result in catastrophic damages to the patient. A doctor that performs a medical procedure or surgery when intoxicated can also be found to act in gross negligence. An impaired doctor poses significant dangers to patients that can lead to injuries.
When a patient experiences any of these injuries, they have a valid case for medical malpractice. It is, however, essential to ensure your evidence in a medical malpractice case is strong. Proving a medical malpractice case is not easy, and without substantial evidence, the lawyers representing the doctor or hospital can get your case dismissed.
Proving Negligence in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
One of the leading causes of medical malpractice is negligence. Negligence can be caused by the hospital, doctor, or hospital employees. Without proving negligence in a medical malpractice case, it may be challenging to recover damages. These are the various elements of negligence:
- This is a legal obligation that a person is owed by another or an entity. A doctor or medical practitioner must adhere to a reasonable standard of care. In claiming damages for medical malpractice, you must prove the hospital or healthcare professional owed you a duty of care.
- Breach of duty. The health practitioner or hospital violated the duty of care
- You must show that the violation was the reason for the injuries you sustained
- You must show that the injuries caused you to suffer financial losses
When to Sue a Hospital for Negligence
A hospital can also be sued for medical malpractice when found to be negligent. The hospital may have neglected to take some precautions, which resulted in the death of a patient or injuries.
If the hospital did not practice due diligence in hiring qualified staff that had practicing licenses, in case of an injury, it could be held liable. If the hospital does not carry out a background check on its staff, such as doctors or nurses, when they cause an injury, the hospital is held accountable.
When hospitals employ healthcare practitioners directly, because of the shared employee-employer relationship, the hospital gets sued based on the respondeat superior doctrine. This means that the employer is a servant, and the hospital is the master responsible for the servant.
This means when an employee is negligent, resulting in an injury, the hospital is held accountable for the mistakes. If a hospital employee such as a nurse in the process of doing their job causes an injury to a patient, the injured patient can sue the hospital for damages, not the nurse.
Most doctors are considered independent and not hospital employees. For this reason, most medical malpractice cases involving doctors are sued independently of the hospital. However, in rare instances in which a doctor is an employee or the hospital controls their hours, both the doctor and hospital can be sued for damages.
Causes of Medical Malpractice Suits in Hospitals
A hospital can be sued for medical malpractice. Some incidents commonly expose hospitals to medical malpractice suits. For instance, a nurse can administer the wrong type of drugs to a patient or the wrong dosage. As a result, the patient suffers injuries and must seek claims for the damages.
Another scenario would be when a patient dressed inadequately for their wounds, and an infection develops. In such a case, the hospital may be held liable for the negligence of its employee. Hospitals can also be sued for misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis because of a mistake. These, among many others, are situations that can lead to a victim of medical malpractice suing a hospital for damages.
Damages in Medical Malpractice Cases in California
The costs one can recover from a medical malpractice claim are based on the losses one suffers due to the injury. These damages may include medical bills, the income lost during the recovery period, among others. The costs a victim suffers decreased or increased depending on the particular factors of the injuries sustained.
When claiming damages in a medical malpractice case, an experienced lawyer or expert in medical claims will make calculations of the costs. Careful consideration is applied because of the unique factors around the situation that often affect the amount of compensation. In performing standard calculations, multipliers are used that are based on the recovery time, and the suffering and pain of the victim. Additionally, the ability of the victim to make a full recovery or suffer permanent damages is also considered.
Filing the Claim
Even when the damages a victim suffers are few, initiating a claim must be done before the expiring of the statute of limitations. This only applies if one needs to file a petition in court for the damages suffered. In this case, the state of California allows for three years from when the injury happened to file a claim petition.
It is always a good practice when you have your evidence put together to file for a claim with the insurance provider for the medical practitioner or hospital. Sometimes, a delay can be experienced with the insurance adjuster of the party at fault. When a claim is raised near the end of the three years, delayed negotiations with the insurance company can result in the expiring of the statute of limitations. Filing a claim early with the insurance provider is essential in ensuring that you have sufficient time to file a petition in court should a settlement not be reached with the insurance provider for the defendant.
Involving Other Parties in a Medical Malpractice Claim
In some cases, the suit of medical malpractice can affect other people. The victim’s family, such as a spouse or their children, can get affected by the ordeal their loved one goes through due to such injuries. Sometimes the children can receive the wrong dosage of drugs while the parents get administered the wrong medicine. Aside from these, another person not related can also suffer similar medical malpractice cases in the same hospital. When these cases are determined, a lawyer can find a way to link them, increasing the support of your case.
When the cases are strong, insurance providers or hospitals to avoid bad publicity would often settle quickly to avoid a trial in court.
Recoverable Damages in Medical Malpractice
Various damages are available for recovery in a medical malpractice injury. Some of the losses a victim of medical malpractice can receive are:
Wrongful Death Compensation
A medical malpractice injury can result in the death of a victim. The surviving family can raise a claim against the doctor or hospital for the wrongful death of their loved one. When medical practitioners are negligent in the performance of their duties, they are likely to cause death to a victim. The family of the victim can sue to get compensated for their life, the loss of affection, and companionship from them.
In the suit, the surviving family or estate representative can claim for the psychological trauma they have suffered, and the victim suffered due to the injuries. If the deceased had any medical bills as a result of the injuries, the costs for medical care are recoverable as well. Additionally, the cost of funeral and burial of the deceased is also taken into account for compensation.
When a victim of medical malpractice or negligence suffers injuries, he or she is likely to incur expenses treating the injuries. Any medical costs associated with the injuries are recovered in a medical malpractice claim. The cost of all the procedures that will be carried out in treating the injuries, the cost of medication, and doctor’s fees are also included in this claim.
Pain and Suffering
The state of California has put a cap for noneconomic damages a person suffers as a result of medical malpractice. Irrespective of the economic damages a victim can claim, when it comes to noneconomic costs, a victim cannot recover more than $250,000.
An experienced lawyer can, however, connect a claim to involve one against a doctor and another against the hospital. If this is possible, a victim can receive more in noneconomic damages.
During the period a victim is recovering from the injuries sustained, in most cases, they will have to stop working. Sometimes the victim relied only on that job for their income or was the family’s breadwinner. When the family of the victim is unable to earn income during the recovery time, they are entitled to receive compensation for the same. A claim is presented based on the amount a victim lost when they failed to work during the time they suffered the injuries.
Lost Capacity to Earn
Some negligent medical practices can leave a victim suffering catastrophic injuries that can affect their ability to earn. When this happens, a victim of medical malpractice can raise a claim against it. A calculation is done based on the victim’s age, type of work they do, and their current earnings. The possibility of increased revenues in the future or promotions is taken into consideration as well. Once this is established, a claim is made against the hospital or the responsible doctor.
Contact a Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me
Negligence by medical practitioners or hospitals leads to injuries that devastate victims and their families. Although medical malpractice cases are difficult to prove, an experienced lawyer understands the various elements that you must know if you want to get fair compensation for your damages. If you wish to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in the Los Angeles area, get in touch with the Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney at 424-231-2013. We are always ready to help our clients get fair compensation for their damages.