The terms medical malpractice and medical negligence are often used interchangeably, but they actually have different legal definitions. Medical malpractice can happen in a number of ways within any type of health care facility, resulting in extensive, costly illness or injury that can debilitate you and severely diminish your quality of life. If you believe you are suffering from medical malpractice, our firm can help. You can submit a claim against family doctors, specialty doctors, surgeons, nurses, physical therapists, mental health care providers, or any other medical professional who caused you harm by providing substandard treatment.
After you review the material below to differentiate between medical malpractice and medical negligence, your first step in the process of filing a medical malpractice claim is to hire an experienced San Diego medical malpractice lawyer. Our expert team at Sigelman & Associates offers decades of experience successfully handling these complicated cases with widespread medical knowledge and renowned legal expertise. We can guide you through every step of this challenging process and help you finally achieve the justice and compensation you deserve.
What Are Examples of Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or other health care provider fails to adhere to the “duty of care,” an ethical standard developed by the medical community to ensure patient diagnosis and treatment are “reasonably skillful and careful.” Whether due to negligence, recklessness, or incompetence, medical malpractice claims seek to provide financial compensation for losses, expenses, and suffering endured because of an illness or injury that resulted directly from violating the duty of care.
Most medical malpractice claims involve one of the following situations:
- Failure to accurately or quickly diagnose a patient’s condition
- Providing ineffective treatment or improperly administering an otherwise effective treatment
- Neglecting to warn patients of recognized risks associated with specific procedures or treatment plans.
How Do You Prove a Malpractice Case?
For a medical malpractice claim to be legally valid, it must include four specific elements.
- A relationship between the patient and the medical professional in which the patient hires the professional for medical services and the professional agrees to provide these services
- A breach of the duty of care maintained by the medical community, usually due to negligence, but sometimes stemming from recklessness or incompetence
- An injury or illness that occurs as a direct consequence of this breach of the duty of care
- Significant damages resulting from the injury or illness.
After causation and damages are determined, the patient may be successful in pursuing a claim of medical malpractice against the doctor or health care institution.
To validate your claim, your San Diego medical malpractice lawyer must undergo a variety of steps, the first of which is filing your claim on time according to California law. Failing to file your medical malpractice claim within four years of experiencing an illness or injury caused by a doctor’s negligence means your claim can be automatically dismissed without being reviewed by the court. If you meet this statute of limitations, you and your lawyer must work together to prepare a formidable case. This includes compiling evidence of harm in the form of photographs or video footage, medical records, and testimony offered by witnesses that supports allegations of malpractice.
Most of the time, insurance companies try to negotiate settlements outside of the court. However, they typically offer far less compensation than is owed and sometimes employ dishonest tactics to calculate this lowball figure. If negotiation attempts do not result in a fair settlement, the case proceeds to civil court for a trial by jury. Before the trial, a malpractice review panel comprised of medical experts is organized to assess your lawyer’s legal arguments, examine evidence of the injury or illness, and decide if reasonable grounds exist to move the case forward. During the trial, your attorney will provide evidence of medical malpractice, supported with expert testimony given by medical professions considered knowledgeable and skilled in their field.
What Are Examples of Medical Negligence?
Medical negligence is the primary reason cited for medical malpractice. Medical negligence can be defined as an action or failure to act on the part of a medical professional that forms a deviation from the expected standard of care. Doctors and other health care providers must provide treatment that adheres to the duty of care. Duty of care generally means providing the same level and kind of care that can be expected from a competent and skilled professional with similar education and experience practicing in the same area under the same kind of circumstances that resulted in malpractice. Not meeting these expectations is considered breaching this duty of care, which constitutes medical negligence.
Specific examples of negligence that can result in a medical malpractice claim include:
- Not taking steps to identify symptoms of an injury or illness
- Failing to order appropriate diagnostic tests that would have allowed for timely diagnosis of an existing condition
- Misreading or forgetting to read lab results
- Neglecting to appropriately document patient history
- Forgetting to properly monitor a patient’s vital signs throughout a surgical procedure
- Operating on the wrong limb or the wrong patient
- Not accounting for all sponges and medical devices or equipment after surgery
- Administering medication at the wrong dosage, especially anesthesia
- Not immediately ordering a cesarean section if a patient giving birth experiences umbilical cord prolapse
- Injuring a patient because of unsuitable lifting techniques
- Allowing an incapacitated patient to develop bedsores by forgetting to turn them on a regular basis
- Discharging a patient from treatment before their recovery has progressed appropriately
Hiring the services of an expert San Diego medical malpractice lawyer is the number one most important step you must take if you plan to file a claim of medical malpractice. An attorney is legally required to initiate a medical malpractice case, so choosing a reputable law firm with extensive experience handling these types of cases can allow you to achieve the best outcome and be awarded the highest compensation. To build an effective case that will prove your claim of medical malpractice, your attorney must complete a number of specific steps according to guidelines set out by California law.
First, they will carefully review all evidence of your medical issue, including a comprehensive assessment of your medical records. Expert testimony plays a crucial role in these cases, so your attorney will select medical experts with accurate, up-to-date knowledge of the intricacies of their field so they can provide the most credible testimony. Throughout the claim process, your attorney should be aggressively pursuing justice on your behalf by countering the misleading, typically dishonest interpretation offered by the defendant and their expert witnesses. When your case is heard by a trial jury, your attorney must thoroughly explain the specifics of the case in clear, easily understandable terms so they can effectively judge your claim and settle your case.
How Can You Prove Negligence?
Medical negligence turns into medical malpractice when breaching the duty of care causes harm to a patient, meaning it worsens an existing condition, leads to unwarranted complications, or makes further medical treatment necessary. Your San Diego medical malpractice lawyer must use convincing evidence to demonstrate both causation – that injury occurred as the direct consequence of this negligence, and damages – that this injury resulted in losses, expenses, or suffering that would not have been experienced if the doctor had not been negligent.
If negligence has been proven in your medical malpractice claim, you are entitled to receive fair, just compensation to cover economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those typically thought of when considering this type of case, including medical expenses for current and continuing health care, any surgery, physical therapy, or prescription medications required to alleviate illness or injury, loss of present ability to earn an income, loss of earning potential in the future. If negligence has made you unable to continue working in your previous career, any expenses associated with gaining new employment, like job searches, training, or vocational rehab, a program that facilitates entrance into this new career. Non-economic damages are comprised of physical pain, mental suffering, physical or mental impairments, reduced quality of life, and other non-monetary losses or expenses incurred as the result of the malpractice.
Sigelman & Associates Can Help You Find Justice and Restitution
If you have suffered from injuries or illness due to your health care provider’s negligence, contact Sigelman & Associates right away to discuss how we can assist you in seeking fair compensation. Our experienced team of San Diego medical malpractice lawyers are proud to offer comprehensive professional insight into the medical field, unparalleled by any other California medical malpractice law firm. We share a tenacious commitment to our clients, providing decades of experience and the exceptional legal expertise necessary for navigating the challenges of going up against powerful insurance companies.
Don’t suffer any longer from the negligence of a medical professional you should have been able to trust for reliable, effective care. Medical malpractice claims are complicated and require the best legal representation available. Schedule your free consultation today by calling (866) 249-8176 or send us an email at [email protected].