How Do I Know if I Have a Medical Malpractice Case?
How Do I Know If I Have a Medical Malpractice Case?
If you have suffered physical injuries or the further aggravation of a previous condition, and you suspect or know that it was because one of your medical providers acted negligently, you may have been the victim of malpractice.
If you are uncertain whether you have a case or not, we highly recommend seeking legal representation from a medical malpractice law firm like ours, Peter Angelos Law. A free consultation with our team is the quickest and most reliable way to understand if you have a valid case or not.
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At Peter Angelos Law, we have been serving Baltimore, MD as well as Frederick, Annapolis, Bowie, and Maryland state-wide for a number of years. We have extensive experience in medical malpractice cases, and can help you to achieve a settlement that will relieve you and your family from financial burden. Together, our skilled attorneys can ensure that a medical professional’s mistake does not take an additional emotional or financial toll on your life. For more information about medical malpractice, contact us today to schedule a consultation and begin building your case.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Your medical providers have been trained to follow strict guidelines called the standard medical practices. These practices are the proper treatment for disease and illness.
Medical malpractice happens when your medical provider deviates from these practices, or acts without the due care and attention that they are expected to provide to patients under their duty of care to them.
If this negligence or lack of attention has left you with injuries or aggravated your conditions, these injuries would likely have been preventable had they stuck to the practices or given the right level of attention to the issue.
If your injuries were preventable, you are entitled to raise a claim against them that allows you to pursue compensation for your emotional and physical trauma, as well as recover any damages you have suffered as a result of the injuries.
Medical malpractice is a broad and complex area of law, with many variables that can affect each case. Errors in judgment and negative outcomes occur often in the medical world, and not all these situations are eligible for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to discern the difference, and many people avoid seeking justice because they assume that pursuing a malpractice claim is either inappropriate or out of their reach. Though certain elements must be in place to claim medical malpractice, these can be difficult to assess if you are not a trained legal professional. To help, we have assembled three signs of medical malpractice and outlined the four elements of a malpractice case.
How Do I Know if I Have a Medical Malpractice Case?
There are many different indicators of a medical malpractice case, and those can differ depending on the type of treatment involved as well as the nature of your injuries. However, these three common signs should serve as a red flag.
1. Abnormal Unsatisfactory Results
Though it is not possible for anyone—even a medical professional—to predict every possible outcome of a procedure, a procedure that goes as it should usually causes a known set of outcomes. When highly unexpected and unfavorable results occur, this could be a sign of medical malpractice.
For example, consider a patient undergoing a cardiac valve replacement. The expected recovery time is usually 6-12 weeks, though a patient experiencing pain slightly outside this period is likely in the normal range. However, at 16 weeks post-op, this particular patient is having trouble breathing and is feeling tightness in the chest. Upon performing x-rays, physicians discover that a member of the surgical team left a sterile cloth inside the patient’s chest cavity.
Obviously, this was a mistake, and it is so abnormal for a mistake like this to happen that the patient likely has a medical malpractice case. The presence of abnormal physical symptoms long past the normal recovery period for the surgery is a good indicator that an unusual circumstance took place.
2. Lack of Informed Consent
Doctors and medical professionals are obligated to inform their patients of the risks associated with a medical procedure. Of course, there are thousands of possible risks involved with most procedures, but physicians must inform you of foreseeable risks. This process of ensuring the patient has all the pertinent information necessary to willingly elect to have the procedure is called informed consent. If your doctor or nurse fails to inform you of all the risks associated with a procedure and one of them occurs, you may have a medical malpractice case.
In order to claim medical malpractice due to lack of informed consent, the following must be true:
- A doctor did not give the patient the necessary information that would have been given by any other qualified medical professional in the same situation.
- If the doctor had properly explained the risks, the patient would have declined to get the procedure.
- The patient was harmed during the procedure.
If these are true, it was impossible for the patient to give informed consent, because they were not properly informed. Informed consent is legally required for a procedure to occur.
3. The Healthcare Professional Admits The Mistake
This is not a very common situation, but it is the most straightforward way to determine medical malpractice. Of course, you are not likely to hear a doctor say, “I have committed medical malpractice.” However, there are other ways for a medical professional to admit something went wrong and they are at fault. Examples include:
- They give you or your family an apology.
- They offer compensation for a situation.
- They admit that a medical error has occurred.
Even if the medical professional or hospital is forthcoming about their mistakes, you can still seek damages if you have been hurt. In fact, this type of admission can strengthen your medical malpractice case. Remember, an apology will not help you pay future medical bills.
Elements of a Medical Malpractice Case
If you experience any of the above circumstances, it is critical to understand that each of four elements must be present to bring a medical malpractice case. Your attorney must show that:
- You and the medical professional in question willingly entered a doctor-patient relationship.
- The medical professional thus had a duty to care for you as a patient.
- The provider breached that duty and failed to provide the standard of care expected of a reasonable person with similar training.
- The breach of care caused your injuries and their associated financial damages.
To determine whether these four elements exist in your case, obtain the counsel of a Baltimore area medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.
Speak to a Medical Malpractice Lawyer at Peter Angelos Law Today!
At Peter Angelos Law, we provide victims of malpractice with access to a dedicated attorney. Our team is comprised of prestigious lawyers, each with extensive experience and a proven track record of success. Our attorneys have over 50 years of combined experience and have earned a reputation for aggressive representation.
Call us today to arrange a free initial case evaluation at 410-705-2405.
For you to pursue the recovery of damages, your medical malpractice lawyer must first determine whether you were the victim of negligence. This can be done by examining the medical provider’s behavior in comparison to that of a reasonable provider and determining if their actions did indeed breach the duty of care that was owed to you.
The next step is to establish that the breach of duty of care caused injury or harm to you. This can be done through medical records, witness testimony, and other evidence. If it is determined that the injury or harm was caused by the breach of duty of care, then you may be eligible to pursue the recovery of damages.
The first step will be the negotiation of a settlement with the other party. 7 out of 10 cases settle outside of the courtroom. This is because most malpractice attorneys that work on a contingency fee basis will evaluate claims before accepting them. This means they are relatively certain that the case is strong enough to win and the other party is likely to settle.
However, 3 in 10 cases do end up being fought in court and your attorney may advise you to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit in order to recover damages. This will involve filing a complaint and serving the defendant with the complaint.
The parties then engage in discovery, which includes depositions, interrogatories, and other evidence gathering.
Ultimately, the court will decide whether or not the defendant is liable for the harm caused and, if so, the amount of damages to be awarded. The court may require expert testimony in order to make this determination. The court may also order the defendant to pay for costs associated with the lawsuit, such as court costs, attorneys’ fees, and other expenses.
Four Elements of a Medical Malpractice Case
Proving the four elements of negligence is something your attorney will be working towards through their investigations and evidence collection. Those elements are:
- Firstly, you will need to prove that the party responsible owed you a duty of care. Almost all medical providers automatically assume a duty of care to their patients.
- Secondly, the medical providers actions meant that they breached this duty of care.
- Thirdly, this breach in the duty of care directly caused your injury or harm.
- Finally, this harm resulted in you suffering an injury that required medical treatment and damages on your behalf.Common Reasons for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
In order to provide you with the standard of care that you deserve, doctors and medical providers should be trained to the highest standard. This standard should ensure that when they are confronted with symptoms and problems, they can diagnose a condition in a timely manner that allows for as much to be done as possible.
Failure to diagnose a condition or a delay in diagnosing a condition can mean that there is less time to act when it is finally diagnosed. For some conditions, this period can mean certain medications are no longer viable, and conditions may have worsened.
In the worst-case scenario, a condition that is not diagnosed can prove fatal.
While a failed or delayed diagnosis can prove disastrous, a misdiagnosis can be catastrophic. Certain conditions have specific treatment options, and this means a misdiagnosis can lead to the patient being administered the wrong medication or treatment. This could worsen their condition, cause new problems, or even lead to the wrongful death of the patient.
Anesthesia can be extremely dangerous when used incorrectly. This is why it takes training and competency to become a qualified anesthesiologist. This training imparts the standards of practice for using anesthesia on the practitioner. As part of their role of keeping patients safe while under anesthesia, they should take extra care to run through all of the patient’s previous conditions, current conditions, allergies, and current medications. This allows them to create an anesthesia plan for the patient, one that will have a much lower chance of any negative interactions.
Anesthesia, unfortunately, does carry inherent risks that may not be avoided even with the utmost care and attention to detail, but the majority of serious injuries caused by anesthesia are through negligence.
There are numerous occasions, both before and during the procedure that an anesthesiologist may cause preventable mistakes. An example would be a failure to read and understand the patient’s records.
Here are the most common anesthesia errors:
- Anesthesia dosage error
- Delayed delivery of anesthesia
- Patient monitoring failures
- Dangerously prolonged sedation
- Failure to recognize and respond to anesthesia complications
- Failure to properly inform a patient of instructions for before, during, or after the procedure
- Faulty equipment
- Shutting off the alarm on the pulse oximeter
- Failure to incubate
- Failure to notice adverse drug interactions
Emergency Room Errors
When it comes to the emergency room, there is a small margin for error. Many patients are suffering from serious injuries, and they need to be categorized by seriousness so that they are seen in a timely manner in accordance with the severity of their injuries.
If you have been admitted to the emergency room and you were left for a long period without being seen, and your injuries worsened. As a result, you should contact an attorney.
America is one of the few developed countries where preventable birth injuries and birth deaths are actually on the rise year by year. Your medical providers that are responsible for looking after both you and your child during your pregnancy and during the birth, need to make sure they carry out adequate fetal monitoring and, when it comes to the birth, need to take all precautions to ensure you are safe.
When they do not carry out adequate fetal monitoring, conditions that could have been diagnosed with the correct testing may be missed. If your child is born with a condition that could have been detected, for example, spina bifida, which can be tested through ultrasound, blood tests, and fluid tests, then you may have a case.
Giving birth is another critical period where one small error can have catastrophic results. The baby needs to be monitored for any signs of fetal distress in order for your medical providers to act quickly and efficiently if problems arise. If you are going to require a forced delivery by vacuum or a c-section, these decisions must be made in a timely manner so you can be converted in an optimum time frame.
Prescription Medication Errors
Your medical providers should explain all of the potential risks and side effects of any medication they put you on. They should also have checked your records for things like allergies or current medication that could have a negative interaction with the new medication.
Surgical errors can occur as a result of negligence on the part of the surgeon or other medical personnel involved in the operation.
Negligent surgical errors can occur due to a variety of factors, including:
- Poor communication between the surgeon and other medical staff involved in the operation
- Failure to properly assess the patient’s condition prior to the operation
- Failure to follow established protocols and procedures
- Poor decision-making by the surgeon
- Inadequate training or experience of the medical staff involved in the operation
- Poorly maintained or outdated medical equipment
- Inadequate sterilization of instruments
- Failure to properly monitor the patient during and after the operation
- Poorly prepared operating rooms
- Distractions in the operating room
Negligence can occur on the part of the surgeon or other medical personnel involved in the operation, as well as on the part of the hospital or clinic in which the surgery takes place. Negligence in surgical errors can lead to serious complications for the patient, including infection, organ damage, and even death.
Medical Record Errors
Medical record errors can lead to injury or death of a patient if they are not corrected in a timely manner. These errors can include incorrect diagnosis, incorrect medications, incorrect dosages, incorrect treatments, and failure to follow up on recommended procedures.
If a medical provider does not take the time to properly document a patient’s condition, any potential or existing errors could go unnoticed and can lead to serious injury or even death. In some cases, these medical record errors may be considered medical malpractice.
Medical record errors can be prevented by ensuring that all medical providers involved in a patient’s care take the time to document any changes or potential issues.
If a medical provider is unsure of how to properly document a patient’s condition, they should seek advice from a knowledgeable and experienced colleague to ensure that all patient records are accurate and up to date.
Statute of Limitations for a Medical Malpractice Claim in Maryland
In Maryland, there is a statute of limitations that prevents people from pursuing claims against medical providers for incidents that happened a long time ago. These cases will not have the evidence necessary to prove.
The time limit is 3 years from the incident, or 5 years from the incident if the injuries are discovered later. If the injuries are discovered later, you will have 3 years from the date of the injury being discovered, but the total period of time cannot exceed 5 years from the date of the incident.
Besides this time limit that is placed upon you, you should always be aware that your best chances of success rely on you contacting a skilled medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. This gives them longer to find evidence and seek expert testimonials from professionals with expertise in the practice at hand.
Who Can You Bring a Medical Malpractice Suit Against in Maryland
- Nursing Homes
- Healthcare Companies
- Aids or Assistants
- Many other medical providers
What Damages Can You Recover Through a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
In a viable medical malpractice claim involving a medical error that has caused you preventable injuries, you may be entitled to pursue compensation for your pain and suffering, and you may be able to recover all damages that you have suffered as a result of the injuries.
In order to negotiate a settlement with the other party, your attorney will need to work out what all of your damages equate to. This involves calculating your economic damages, which are the ones that have cost you money. Economic damages can be added up easily and if necessary, can be proven with invoices or receipts.
For your non-economic damages, the process is different. These damages, such as your pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, do not have clear figures attached. Usually, your attorney will work out what your economic damages are worth and then apply a multiplier based on the severity of your pain and suffering in their eyes. (Usually between 1x-5x)
These are the damages they will consider:
Loss of wages and earning capacity
Taking time off to deal with what has happened to you is perfectly normal. Victims may need to deal with the mental trauma of the malpractice as well as the physical injuries and treatment, and this usually results in time off work.
Time off work, for the majority of people, will mean lost wages and income, and this can cause a lot of anxiety in victims. You should not be left out of pocket for lost wages or earning potential caused by the negligence of your medical provider.
Fortunately, you can work with your attorney to evidence your lost wages and income, and if your case is successful, you will be able to recover every penny.
If your injuries are severe and you will not be able to work in the same capacity permanently, your attorney may need to work with a financial expert to help them understand what you should be compensated for a lifetime of lost potential.
You might require a lot more treatment to put right the injuries you have received as a result of the malpractice, and these medical bills can quickly add up. While you are still awaiting compensation, you may find your medical expenses add up quickly, and if your healthcare coverage is not sufficient, you may be left in a tricky situation.
A valid claim will allow you to recover your medical expenses, such as treatment costs, transport costs, and anything else relating to your healthcare.
Pain and suffering
Your pain and suffering damages are the compensation awarded to you for what you have been through. Your pain, emotional suffering, and lasting trauma should all be compensated for, and if you have suffered a loss to the way you live your life, you should be compensated for this loss too. If you have suffered injuries that prevent you from picking up your child, riding your bike with your friends, or doing anything that you loved to do before the injuries, this is a loss of enjoyment of life.
One of the best ways to help your attorney when it comes to determining the severity of your pain and suffering is to keep a daily journal with your mood and pain levels, as well as the treatment you receive. This will give them an accurate account of how long you were in pain and how much your mental state suffered.
Filing a Wrongful Death Medical Malpractice Claim
A wrongful death medical malpractice claim in Maryland is a civil lawsuit that can be filed by the family members of a deceased person who believe the death was caused by a negligent medical provider or facility.
This is a way to hold the responsible party accountable for the death of their loved one and to seek financial compensation for the damages suffered. There are several reasons why someone may choose to file a wrongful death medical malpractice claim in Maryland.
First, filing a claim can help the family members of the deceased to obtain justice and closure, as well as to ensure that similar incidents will not happen in the future. Additionally, a wrongful death claim could help to cover the costs of the medical care leading up to the death, as well as funeral and burial expenses.
In addition, a successful claim can provide financial compensation for the loss of income, as well as for the pain and suffering of the deceased’s family members. In order to file a wrongful death medical malpractice claim in Maryland, you must meet certain criteria. For example, you must be able to prove that the medical provider or facility acted negligently or recklessly and that the negligence or recklessness was the direct cause of the deceased’s death.
An attorney can help you to evaluate your case and determine whether or not you may have a valid claim. They can also guide you through the process of filing a claim and help you to seek the compensation you deserve.
Medical Malpractice FAQs
How long do medical negligence claim cases take?
The length of time that a medical malpractice claim takes varies between every case. The unique factors that make up each and every malpractice case mean that there is no average time.
The important factors that may influence the period of time that your case takes are the severity of your injuries, how clear the liability is, the reputation of your attorney, the skill and willingness to fight off the opposing parties’ legal team, and the potential payout on offer.
While 7 in 10 cases do settle outside of the courtroom, you must be prepared for a court case, and this is why it is so important to find an attorney with a reputation for fierce trial litigation as well as strong settlement negotiation skills.
How are medical negligence cases funded?
All victims of medical malpractice should have the option of pursuing a claim, and this is our belief as malpractice lawyers. In order to assist those victims, we work on a contingency fee basis, offering our services to any victim without any up-front fees or fees to pay if the case is lost. We only take our fees, usually as a flat percentage, out of your settlement or the damages you are awarded in court if it makes it that far.
This means you can fight your case with confidence and without fear of what happens if you lose.
Do all medical negligence cases go to court?
No, not all medical negligence cases go to court. In most cases, the patient and the healthcare provider can come to an agreement outside of court. This is usually done through a process of negotiation and mediation, where an independent third party can help the two sides come to an agreement.
This is often more efficient and less expensive than going to court.
The complexity of your case will be the biggest influence on whether or not your case goes to court. The other party is more likely to fight if the payout is going to be substantial. Equally, they are more likely to settle if you seek legal representation from an attorney with a fierce reputation for litigation in court.
When it comes to fighting medical malpractice cases, it is always worth seeking help from a law firm with a reputation for success, such as Peter Angelos Law. We have won cases resulting in payouts as large as $4.5 billion dollars, against some of the state’s biggest and most capable entities, and we have won countless cases for clients in similar situations to you.
Should you accept the first offer of compensation?
When an insurance company first hears of a case that they have a strong chance of losing, they will work quickly to run the numbers of what the case stands to cost them in the long term. Once they have that figure, they will sometimes approach a victim with an offer for compensation that is much lower but still attractive.
Be careful of this tactic because if you accept a settlement from the insurance company, you sign away your right to pursue further compensation, no matter how much worse your injuries get or how much you learn you could have pursued.
Always discuss any settlement offer with your attorney so that you can weigh up the pros and cons of taking the settlement. They will be able to help you with your decision and advise you on what they think is best. Most likely, they will advise you to say no.
Of course, if the offer is a good one, they will also tell you that.
Our Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorneys May be Able to Help
If you have been injured due to the negligence of a medical provider and are in need of compensation, the experienced team at Peter Angelos Law is here to help. We are dedicated to providing you with the highest level of legal representation and will fight tirelessly to ensure that you receive the justice you deserve.
At Peter Angelos Law, we understand how devastating it can be to suffer an injury due to medical negligence. We have been fighting on behalf of victims of medical malpractice in the state of Maryland for over 70 years and have a long history of successful cases.
We keep our clients informed and in the loop at all times, and will listen compassionately and aggressively pursue your case. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you recover your damages and hold the medical provider accountable.
Call us today at 410-705-2405.