Medical Malpractice Attorneys
Doctors and hospitals make mistakes every day, sometimes resulting in tragic consequences. Nevertheless, pursuing claims for medical malpractice cases due to these mistakes can be confusing and frustrating. Claims seeking damages from physicians, nurses and hospitals are complicated and typically require a level of expertise not shared by all attorneys.
Understanding Medical Malpractice
The nature of malpractice errors extends from surgical mishaps to mis-diagnosis, and everything in between. However, not all disappointing results in connection with the treatment provided to individuals may be considered malpractice. When deciding whether or not to pursue a malpractice claim there are certain basic principles that every client must first understand.
Standard of Care
Medical professionals are held to a standard of care, which is typically defined as the level of competence that would be expected of a medical professional of average skill and ability practicing within the same specialty. Medical malpractice cases arise when the medical professional deviates from the applicable standard of care. When these professionals fail to properly carry out their duties, the consequences and impact on the patient and their family can be devastating.
Some examples of medical professionals include doctors, nurse practitioners, hospital staff or x-ray technicians. These individuals are in a position of trust and that is reflected in the standard of care they must follow.
The deviation and negligent conduct of a medical professional may result in:
• Surgical Errors
• Birth Injuries
• Emergency Room Mishaps
• Brain Injuries
• Medication Errors
• Failure to Diagnose Breast Cancer
• Negligent Amputations
• Surgical Burns
• Wrongful Death
• Hospital Staff Negligence
• Nursing Malpractice
• Defective Medical Devices
• Testing Errors
This is not a complete list of the types of matters that may result in a malpractice claim. We can assist you in reviewing the circumstances which you believe to be the basis for a claim, and evaluating the likelihood of pursuing the matter through the court system.
Statute of Limitations
An injured individual cannot delay pursuing his or her claim forever, as medical malpractice claims are subject to the Statute of Limitations. A medical malpractice claim must be brought within two years from the date that the cause of action accrued. This might not mean the date the incident (malpractice) actually occurred, but instead might be the date that the injured person reasonably became aware that the professional(s) failed to properly carry out his or her duties in administering to the patient’s care. It is strongly recommended that the determination of the cutoff date for filing a claim be reviewed with an attorney to make sure that your rights are properly protected.
Note, however, that the Statute of Limitations is different for minors. In New Jersey, the Statute of Limitations for a minor does not begin running until the child’s 18th birthday, with one exception: A medical malpractice lawsuit for injuries sustained at birth must be brought prior to the child’s 13th birthday.
In a medical malpractice lawsuit, the plaintiff’s lawyer must file a complaint within the two year statute of limitations, and must also be prepared to file an expert affidavit of merit within 60 days after the defense attorney files the answer to the complaint (lawsuit). This expert affidavit of merit must be from a physician who practices in same discipline as the physician against whom you are alleging committed an act of malpractice. The expert affidavit of merit must state there exists a reasonable probability that the defendant’s care of the plaintiff fell outside the acceptable professional or occupational standards or treatment practices. The required contents of this affidavit of merit should be reviewed with an attorney prior to the institution of the lawsuit.
This expert, along with others, may be required to testify if the matter reaches trial. The opinion that the expert provides at trial must identify the deviation of medical standards with degree of medical certainty. (A better understanding of what this phrase means should be reviewed with an attorney.)
When a medical malpractice claimant is seeking damages from the individual/insurance company who deviated from the standard of care, there are several different types of damages that come into play:
• Non-Economic – These are intended to compensate the injured individual for tangible costs, such as pain and suffering.
• Compensatory – These are intended to compensate for medical bills accrued as a result of the injury.
• Punitive – These are intended to deter future acts that caused the injury and punish the medical provider for the reckless behavior.
To recover damages the patient must establish:
(1) The physician owed a duty to the patient;
(2) The standard of care and that the physician violated that standard;
(3) A Compensable Injury; and
(4) The violation of the standard of care caused the harmed suffered by the patient.
Effective Legal Counsel
If you feel you have been the victim of medical malpractice, contact us today for a FREE consultation.
This information is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice without consulting with a licensed attorney. This is not intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney. The law is subject to frequent changes and varies from one jurisdiction to another. (c) 2016