People have a lot of questions about medical malpractice. If you have been a victim of medical malpractice and if you have watched a loved one suffer, you deserve to understand the essentials. To help you out, here’s a look at some of the most common questions about medical malpractice.
1. What Does Medical Malpractice Mean?
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider does not meet their duty to the patient. This may happen when a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare provider fails to diagnose a condition properly, doesn’t advise the patient about risks, makes a grave mistake during a medical procedure, or ignores the patients’ needs.
As a general rule of thumb, if the healthcare provider behaved in a way that is different from how most other responsible healthcare providers would have acted in the same situation and if the patient was harmed or suffered damages as a result, medical malpractice may have occurred.
2. What Causes Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice can be caused by a variety of issues including the following:
- Inadequate training
- Ignorance about the condition
- Lack of communication
- Dangerous procedures or systems in hospital settings
- Failure to read medical records correctly
- Giving the wrong dosages or types of medication
- Administering anesthesia incorrectly
- Surgical errors
- Failure to maintain equipment properly
- Dirty environments leading to infections
3. How Are Medical Malpractice Settlements Calculated?
In medical malpractice cases, settlements are based on the damages you suffered as a result of the medical malpractice. Typically, damages include medical expenses, lost earnings, and other costs directly related to the incident. However, many people suffer long-term injuries that can affect the rest of their lives, and as a result, their settlement may include lost future income and estimated future medical expenses.
On top of that, the settlement may also include money for pain and suffering. Putting a number on pain and suffering is a delicate process. Often, the courts assign a multiplier between one and five, and they multiply your other damages by that number to determine the amount related to your pain and suffering. In other situations, they may take your daily wage and multiply that by the number of days you experienced pain. You may also receive some monetary compensation for emotional distress or loss of consortium.
4. What Are Medical Malpractice Caps?
Medical malpractice caps limit the amount of the settlement you can receive from these cases. In Massachusetts, the law caps compensation for pain and suffering, loss of companionship, embarrassment, and other items of general damage to $500,000. But there are exceptions. If you suffered substantial impairment or permanent loss of a bodily function or substantial disfigurement, the caps do not apply. Additionally, the caps don’t apply if they prevent you from getting fair compensation.
As you can see, the Massachusetts guidelines are very subjective. To ensure you get the fairest settlement possible, you need a skilled medical malpractice attorney who can help to establish that your injuries are substantial and that a low settlement wouldn’t be fair. For example, the lawyers at Mazow | McCullough, PC helped a client win $535,000 for a medical malpractice injury, and they also got her health insurance lien waived.
5. Can Medical Malpractice Be Criminal?
Generally, medical malpractice cases are civil. That means that the healthcare providers, hospitals, medical clinics, or other defendants in the case are held financially responsible, but they do not face criminal charges. However, in extreme cases, medical malpractice may constitute criminal medical negligence, and the defendant may be subject to criminal penalties including prison or fines.
6. What Are Medical Malpractice Lawyers?
Medical malpractice lawyers are generally lawyers who focus on personal injury law. They help clients who have suffered damages due to the negligence of another party, and in addition to serving clients who have been injured in car accidents, by dog bites, or in a variety of other situations, they also help clients who have been injured due to the actions of a medical professional or institution.
7. How Does a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Work?
Medical malpractice suits usually start with a consultation with a medical malpractice attorney. They help you decide if your case is viable. If you decide to move forward with the lawsuit, the lawyer may do some investigating and researching to prepare for the case and estimate how much your settlement should be. Then, your lawyer sends a demand letter to the defendant, letting them know what damages you have suffered and explaining why they are at fault.
At that point, the defendant may accept or reject the demand or make a counteroffer. If the demand is rejected or a counter offer is made, your lawyer may urge you to handle the issue in mediation or through arbitration. If that’s not possible, the case may go to trial. At the conclusion of the trial, the judge decides if you deserve a settlement and the amount of the settlement.
8. Are Medical Malpractice Awards Taxable?
Normally, medical malpractice settlements are not subject to income tax. However, if you claimed a tax deduction for medical expenses related to the claim and the settlement reimbursed you for those expenses, you may have to deal with some tax issues related to reversing that deduction.
9. Can I File a Medical Malpractice Claim Myself?
Legally, you can always represent yourself in a court of law, but from the demand letter through the trial, medical malpractice cases are complicated. Physicians, hospitals, and insurance companies spend a lot on their lawyers, and going in on your own is usually a mistake.
Instead, you should get help from a medical malpractice attorney. At Mazow | McCullough, PC, we have helped many clients get the justice they deserve. To learn more and to set up a free case evaluation, contact us today.