When we entrust our health and well-being to medical professionals, we expect them to adhere to high standards of care in diagnosing and treating our conditions. Unfortunately, medical mistakes and negligence can lead to severe injuries, additional health complications, and even fatalities. If you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice, understanding the basics of medical malpractice claims, including common causes, the legal process, and your rights as a patient, is essential. As an experienced personal injury law firm in Southern Maryland, The Law Office of Ben Evan is dedicated to helping victims of medical malpractice navigate the complex legal landscape to pursue the compensation and justice they deserve.
By gaining a comprehensive understanding of medical malpractice claims and their necessary legal processes, you will be better equipped to protect your rights and pursue justice for your injuries. This blog post emphasizes the importance of partnering with a skilled medical malpractice attorney like those at The Law Office of Ben Evan to provide expert guidance, compassionate support, and fierce legal advocacy when pursuing your medical malpractice claim.
Common Causes of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice can occur in a variety of ways, with certain types of errors being more common than others. Some typical causes of medical malpractice include:
1. Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis: An incorrect or delayed diagnosis can result in patients receiving the wrong treatment or no treatment at all, potentially causing additional harm or worsening the existing condition.
2. Surgical Errors: Mistakes made during surgery, such as operating on the wrong site, leaving instruments inside the patient, or causing unintentional damage to organs or tissues, can have severe consequences for patients.
3. Medication Errors: These errors may involve prescribing or administering the wrong medication, incorrect dosages, or failing to account for potential adverse interactions with other medications the patient is taking.
4. Birth Injuries: Negligence during pregnancy, labor, or delivery can lead to injuries to the child or mother, resulting in lifelong disabilities or complications.
Standard of Care in Medical Malpractice Claims
The concept of “standard of care” is central to medical malpractice claims. The standard of care refers to the level of care, skill, and diligence that a reasonably competent healthcare provider in the same specialty would provide under similar circumstances. To establish that medical malpractice has occurred, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the healthcare provider in question failed to meet this standard of care, and their actions or inactions directly led to the patient’s injury or worsened condition.
In Maryland, like in many other states, it’s typically necessary to rely on expert witness testimony to establish the relevant standard of care, as well as to demonstrate that the defendant’s conduct fell below this standard, resulting in the patient’s harm.
Establishing Negligence in Medical Malpractice Claims
To prove negligence in a medical malpractice claim, the plaintiff must establish the following elements:
1. Duty of Care: The healthcare provider owed a duty of care to the patient, based on the provider-patient relationship.
2. Breach of Duty: The healthcare provider failed to meet the appropriate standard of care through their actions or inactions.
3. Causation: The healthcare provider’s breach of duty directly caused the patient’s injury or harm.
4. Damages: The patient suffered damages (e.g., physical, emotional, or financial) as a result of the injury or harm.
Engaging a medical expert witness is often necessary to establish these elements in a medical malpractice claim. The expert’s testimony will help illustrate how the healthcare provider failed to meet the standard of care and how this failure led to the patient’s harm or injury.
Patients’ Rights and Pursuing Compensation
Patients who have been injured by medical malpractice have the right to pursue compensation for their damages through a civil lawsuit or, in some cases, through an insurance claim. The types of compensation available in a medical malpractice claim may include:
1. Medical Expenses: Reimbursement for the cost of past, current, and future medical treatments and care resulting from the malpractice.
2. Lost Wages and Loss of Earning Capacity: Compensation for income lost due to the injury and an inability to work, as well as any reduction in future earning capacity caused by the injury.
3. Pain and Suffering: Financial compensation for the physical pain, mental anguish, and emotional distress experienced by the patient.
4. Loss of Consortium: Compensation for the non-economic damages suffered by the spouse of the injured party, such as the loss of companionship, affection, and guidance.
There are time limits, known as statutes of limitations, within which a patient must file their medical malpractice claim. In Maryland, the general statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is five years from the date of the injury or three years from the discovery of the injury, whichever occurs first. However, certain exceptions and nuances may affect these time limits, which is why consulting with an experienced attorney is essential.
Navigating the complex legal landscape of medical malpractice claims can be challenging, but partnering with an experienced and compassionate medical malpractice attorney can provide the support, expertise, and advocacy you need to hold negligent healthcare providers accountable. The team at The Law Office of Ben Evan in Southern Maryland, is committed to helping malpractice victims pursue justice and achieve the compensation they deserve. Contact The Law Office of Ben Evan, your trusted Maryland legal firm, today for a consultation and take the first steps toward recovery and justice.