Medical Malpractice Lawyer
There is a high standard of care that medical professionals are supposed to provide and if they fail to deliver, patients can experience injury, life-changing damages and expensive medical bills.
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Whether you are undergoing a health diagnosis, a routine medical procedure or a more serious surgery, you put your trust in doctors, nurses, surgeons, pharmacists and other medical professionals. There is a high standard of care that medical professionals are supposed to provide and if they fail to deliver, patients can experience injury, life-changing damages and expensive medical bills. Sheeley Law represents clients who have been injured or family members who are dealing with a wrongful death due to medical malpractice.
What is Medical Malpractice
When a patient is harmed or injured because of a healthcare provider’s negligence or failure to provide reasonable care, it is considered Medical Malpractice. Research indicates that Medical Malpractice errors are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. At Sheeley Law, we understand the devastation experienced as a result of Medical Malpractice. We give every client compassionate and strong advocacy every step of the way. We work with a team of experienced medical professionals to get our clients the best results possible to compensate them for the injuries they have suffered, which include the following:
Misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, or failure to diagnose and/or treat cancer, as well as other life-threatening illnesses
Emergency room errors
Surgical errors, including wrong sided surgery
Pharmaceutical and prescription errors
Pregnancy and birth injuries
Negligent performance of gynecologic and urologic procedures
Brain and spinal cord injuries
Paralysis and amputation
Nursing home negligence and abuse
Medical Malpractice FAQs
Q. What is considered a medical malpractice case?
A. Hospitals, doctors, nurses and other health care professionals, including first-responders, pharmacists, dentists and therapists, are expected to provide patients with an acceptable standard of care. Medical malpractice occurs when a patient suffers harm by a health care professional who fails to competently perform his or her medical duties. The majority of medical malpractices cases happen during diagnosis, surgery, treatment or aftercare.
Medical malpractice cases fall under a complex and unique area of law that some Personal Injury Attorneys, such as Sheeley Law, practice. It is important to know that just because something goes wrong during your treatment or you are dissatisfied with the outcome, that doesn't always mean you have a legitimate medical malpractice case. To put it simply, you must be able to prove there was negligence and that negligence caused harm or injury.
Q. What are some common examples of medical malpractice?
A. Above we provide example of medical malpractice. When it comes to medical malpractice cases, most fall into one of three categories:
Misdiagnosis or Failure to Diagnose – Misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose are two of the leading causes of medical malpractice. Essentially, misdiagnosis occurs when a medical professional examines a patient and comes to the wrong conclusion about their health. Failure to diagnose, on the other hand, occurs when a patient is given a clean bill of health, when in fact, they are suffering from an illness. For example, failure to diagnose a heart attack in the emergency room can lead to a patient not getting the prompt medical attention they need. Not all cases involving diagnostic errors result in a successful lawsuit. The reality is some illnesses are difficult to diagnose even for highly experienced and competent doctors.It will be up to the patient and their attorney to prove insufficient or improper medical care, delayed treatment, or no treatment at all, which in turn resulted in the patient being harmed by those actions or inactions.
Improper Treatment – When it comes to improper treatment, the health care professional diagnoses the patient’s condition correctly but fails to either provide appropriate treatment or neglects to take a necessary action. If these actions or inactions are in error and result in harm, injury or death, this could be the basis for a medical malpractice case. For example, if a surgeon operates on the wrong body part or a patient requires surgery to treat their ailment but the doctor only prescribes them medicine, then this would be considered improper treatment.
Failing to Warn About Known Risks - A medical professional must tell a patient of all the known risks for any procedure or treatment. If the medical professional administers treatment that results in harm to the patient, and the patient would have refused the treatment had they known all of the risks, they may have a legitimate medical malpractice case. Malpractice can also occur in patients who do not give informed consent. For example, if a patient does not receive proper notification of all risks present in a procedure, he might have a viable medical malpractice case if something severe happens as a result.
Q. How hard is it to prove medical malpractice??
A. According to a study conducted by Johns Hopkins University, medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. and one out of every three patients will be a victim of an error during a hospital stay. However, Medical malpractice is one of the most difficult types of personal injury cases to prove. Some medical mistakes are unavoidable. Others are mistakes another doctor or nurse may have also made under the same circumstances. A bad outcome does not necessarily prove negligence. All procedures have risks, and if you were warned of those risks then it will be very difficult to prove negligence in a court of law.
Q. How do you prove medical negligence?
A. The key to proving medical negligence is three-fold:
There is evidence that the health care professional violated the general standard of care of a patient as set forth by the medical community. In other words, you must be able to prove that the doctor did not handle your diagnosis or treatment in a way that another professional, given the same set of circumstances, would have.
You must be able to demonstrate that the health care professional caused you harm, which means physical or emotional injuries that resulted in considerable physical, emotional or financial damage. These damages could include disability, enduring hardship, constant pain, suffering, and inability to work/loss of income.
Finally, there must be sufficient evidence that proves the medical professional directly caused you harm and damages. Expert testimony from another medical professional is often needed to prove that a patient’s attending caregiver deviated from standard practices and directly caused harm.
Q. Is it worth hiring an attorney and suing for medical malpractice?
A. While anyone can file a malpractice suit, most people do not have the legal knowledge and experience to fully protect and exert their rights. Medical malpractice is among the most complex of personal injury law with numerous rules and regulations that vary from state to state. Your attorney will be able to apprise you of your legal rights and make those rights are protected. Additionally, your attorney can answer any questions or concerns that you may have throughout the course of your case and will represent you in court on the matter. Insurance carriers employ a number of tactics to deny, delay, or downplay the seriousness of your claim and their own team of attorneys will usually try to get you to settle as quickly and cheaply as possible. It is worth it to hire a competent attorney lawyer who will stand up to the insurance company and hold a negligent health care professional accountable for their actions. A personal injury attorney that has specific medical malpractice experience can help you obtain justice and compensation for your damages, so that you may focus on resting and recovering from your injury or illness. Winning a medical malpractice case can be difficult even with an experienced personal injury attorney by your side but it is nearly impossible without one.
Q. Do most medical malpractice cases settle?
A. According to an article in Business Insurance magazine, only about half of the medical malpractice claims filed each year actually go to trial and less than 5% of these lawsuits result in a verdict. That means 95% of all medical malpractice claims are either dismissed due to lack of evidence or they end in a settlement offer before trial proceedings.
Medical professionals are required to have insurance and their carries typically have a team of attorneys who will try to get the victim of medical malpractice to settle with a low-ball offer. Remember, you do not have to accept the first offer presented to you. This is why it is important to have an experienced and aggressive medical malpractice attorney negotiating and advocating on your behalf.
Another major reason why most cases settle is that patients are eager to obtain compensation sooner rather than later and avoid a lengthy trial that can stretch out several years. By settling out of court, you know you are securing some amount of compensation and if you have medical bills and other expenses piling up, years can be too long to wait to recover the compensation you need and deserve.
Q. How long do medical malpractice cases take to settle?
A. Every case is different. The amount of time it takes to settle a case depends upon the amount you are seeking in damages and the strength of your case. It also depends on the process of settlement negotiations, which can occur at any point during a case. Sometimes a settlement is reached before a medical malpractice lawsuit is even filed and in other cases it is not reached until moments before trial. In our experience handling medical malpractice cases, the successful resolution of a medical malpractice lawsuit typically takes 12-24 months.
Q. When should you contact a personal injury lawyer?
A. If you believe you are a victim of medical malpractice, you should contact a personal injury lawyer with medical malpractice experience right away. Firms such as Sheeley Law offer a free consultation. Once we discuss the details of your case and gather evidence, we can best advise you on the strength and legitimacy of your case. Another reason not to delay is all states, including Rhode Island, have a statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits. According to Rhode Island General Law 9-1-14.1, a plaintiff has three years to file their case in the civil court. Typically, the statute of limitations clock starts ticking from the date on which the medical negligence occurred. However, Rhode Island law does make an exception for cases "which could not in the exercise of reasonable diligence be discoverable at the time of the occurrence of the incident which gave rise to the action." In that situation, the three-year clock starts running at the time when "the malpractice should, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, have been discovered." As with any injury, the best advice is to consult a personal injury attorney like Ann Sheeley as soon as possible so the details of the event are fresh in your mind and evidence can be collected rather than lost. As always, Rhode Island medical malpractice attorney Ann Sheeley is here for you 24/7 to answer your specific questions.