What Is Medical Malpractice?

Author: Nicki Malekadeli
Posted on: October 16, 2018

Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider’s careless actions lead to a patient’s injury. This may involve failure to give proper medical treatment or perform an appropriate action. Each of these negligent acts could lead to injury, damage, or even the patient’s death. The negligent party’s carelessness towards the patient can be a consequence of various medical errors, including diagnosis, treatment, and prescription.

Patients can claim compensation for any damages as a result of poor medical care. If you are a victim of medical malpractice, you can seek redress against your hospital or doctor through legal processes.

What Are the Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim?

All medical professionals are obliged to take reasonable and proper actions when they provide any kind of medical care to patients. But this responsibility only applies to existing doctor-patient relationships. The patient can file a medical malpractice suit against the negligent party if said party has failed to act accordingly in terms of medical care.

A patient may file the above-mentioned claim if the following elements are present:

  1. Breach of duty – If a healthcare provider does not uphold their sworn duty, they are responsible for any of the patient’s injuries or damages during treatment. A breach of duty implies that the negligent party had failed to do their job properly.
  2. Causation – The plaintiff should present a direct cause between their injuries and the negligent party’s breach of duty.
  3. Damages due to injury – Aside from causation, the plaintiff should also prove that they had experienced actual damages from medical malpractice. These may either be economic or non-economic.

What Are the Common Types of Medical Malpractice?

There are many types of medical malpractice that can result in claims against doctors, nurses, or other healthcare professionals.

These negligent actions include:

  • Misdiagnosis
  • Misreading or disregarding laboratory results
  • Unnecessary surgical operations
  • Surgical errors
  • Improper treatment or prescription
  • Unsatisfactory re-examination or aftercare
  • Discharge on impulse
  • Failure to record proper medical history

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Cases?

The statute of limitations for medical malpractice suits varies across all US states. Plaintiffs can file a claim within a specific number of years from the incident date. Typically, this period can cover anywhere from two to six years depending on the state’s current ruling.

California state law requires plaintiffs to file medical malpractice lawsuits within the following time periods: One year after they discover the injury or within three years of the date of the injury, whichever comes first.

However, there are some cases in which the negligent party leaves a foreign object inside the patient’s body. The one-year period still applies to these types of claims, but without an overall deadline. This is where the “discovery rule” comes in. The discovery rule serves as an exception to the regular deadline for medical malpractice suits. It allows plaintiffs to bring their individual cases to court after the expiry of the standard statute of limitations. But this exception is only valid if the victim is not aware that they have a potential medical malpractice lawsuit.

California state law also states that accused medical practitioners will receive at least 90 day’s notice of patients’ medical malpractice claims. This provision is mentioned in section 364 of the state’s Code of Civil Procedure.

What Damages Can You Receive From a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

Complainants in medical malpractice claims can receive compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages may include economic and non-economic damages. These damages are listed below.

  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Life care and medical expenses
  • Actual injuries suffered by plaintiffs
  • Psychological and physical damage
  • Severe pain
  • Emotional suffering

The courts will typically evaluate both previous and future damages for compensatory damages. On the other hand, punitive damages serve as the negligent party’s punishment. These damages are also considered to be additional compensation alongside actual damages. The plaintiff will be given punitive damages if the courts find the defendant guilty of malicious or intentional malpractice.

Seek Legal Assistance From Expert Medical Malpractice Lawyers

As a medical malpractice victim, you’re entitled to receive compensation for the damages you’ve suffered. But claiming reparation from the negligent party can be difficult. For one, you will have to provide substantial evidence in order to get the redress you deserve from the defendant. You will also have to face the defendant’s insurance companies and defense lawyers. These entities will do everything in their power to prevent the negligent party from settling these claims.

For medical malpractice claims or other personal injury cases, you will need strong legal assistance from a capable law firm. Mesriani Law Group’s medical malpractice lawyers are skilled in handling these types of lawsuits. They’ll fight aggressively to ensure that you’re awarded the compensation you deserve.