The firm has a record that includes many multi-million dollar cases.
Talk to the Top San Diego Medical Malpractice Law Firm
All licensed healthcare providers and facilities are legally required to follow specific professional and ethical standards when diagnosing and treating patients. However, medical errors can and do happen when providers fail to adhere to these standards. Approximately 20,000 medical malpractice claims are filed every year across the nation. Victims of malpractice can face astronomical medical bills, lost wages during recovery, lost earning potential, disability, disfigurement, and ongoing pain and suffering. In other cases, injuries can be severe enough to cause death.
If you were injured during a medical procedure, surgery, medical evaluation, or treatment due to the negligence of a doctor, nurse, or another medical professional, you may have the right to seek compensation under a medical malpractice claim. At Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates, our San Diego medical malpractice attorneys can help you file a medical malpractice claim to recover compensation for your injuries and losses.
Types of Medical Malpractice Cases
While there are many types of medical malpractice cases, some of the most common types include the following:
Diagnostic errors, such as failing to recognize symptoms of a medical condition, making the wrong diagnosis, or delaying a diagnosis
Failure to treat, such as failing to perform necessary tests, failing to consult a patient’s medical history before providing care, discharging patients too early, or neglecting to provide instructions for follow-up care
Surgical errors, including failure to follow the correct procedures, wrong-site surgeries, removal of an incorrect body part, or leaving medical instruments or materials inside of a patient following surgery
Anesthesia errors made before, during, or after surgery, such as failing to educate a patient about the risks of anesthesia, administering the wrong type of anesthesia, the wrong dosage, or leaving a patient sedated for too long
Birth injuries that occur immediately prior to, during, or after a child’s birth to either the child or the mother, such as failing to diagnose maternal infections, failing to recognize fetal distress, incorrectly using assistive devices like forceps, or delaying or failing to perform a necessary cesarean section
Medication errors, such as prescribing the wrong medication for the patient’s condition, prescribing a medication that causes a patient to experience an allergic reaction, prescribing medications that interact harmfully with the patient’s other prescribed drugs, administering medication to the wrong patient, or administering the wrong dosage
Other injuries suffered from dentists, nurses, hospital staff, chiropractors, physical therapists, or other medical professionals
File a Medical Malpractice Claim in San Diego, CA
Ten percent of all U.S. deaths are now due to medical error. Medical malpractice cases are oftentimes complex and legally challenging to develop. In many cases, an independent investigation is required, and medical experts are needed to testify on behalf of the victim. In some cases, victims may be unaware of their injuries until a much later time, especially if medical negligence occurred during surgery when victims are still recovering. Our legal team consists not only of experienced San Diego medical malpractice lawyers, but also medical professionals that are uniquely qualified to build a strong malpractice case on your behalf.
Is a Medical Negligence Case Difficult to Prove?
Medical malpractice claims are unique personal injury claims because they involve medical professionals. Medicine is inherently uncertain due to human physiology, and honest mistakes happen. Medical malpractice laws exist to determine whether a physician’s behavior fell within the scope of an acceptable standard of care for the patient’s condition and whether another similarly skilled physician in the same situation would have done things differently.
Medical negligence can be challenging to prove. It would not be difficult for a physician to explain away patient harm as an unavoidable yet reasonable and sometimes expected side effect of treatment. The crux of any medical malpractice lawsuit is the standard of care to which the physician should have adhered in light of the patient’s condition. The medical community determines acceptable parameters of care for all known medical ailments, and physicians may only stray from the standard of care in extreme circumstances where solid justification for such action exists.
Success in your medical malpractice claim is determined by your San Diego medical malpractice attorney’s ability to prove the defendant failed to uphold the appropriate standard of care your situation dictated. The legal process must begin with a formal review process from a medical board. If the review board determines there are acceptable grounds on which to file a malpractice claim, the claimant can proceed with their lawsuit before the statue of limitations expires.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Claims?
Every type of legal claim features a specific statute of limitations, or the deadline plaintiffs must meet for filing their claim. If you attempt to file a claim after the statute of limitations has passed, the court will refuse to hear your claim barring exceptional circumstances. According to California Code of Civil Procedure §340.5 and the case law interpreting it, your case must be filed within three years of the date of injury, or one year from the date you discovered, or reasonably should have discovered, your injury and the fact that it might have been due to medical negligence, whichever comes first.The three-year limitations period extends the time within which cases involving “delayed discovery” of medical malpractice can be filed. But it is important to understand that those cases still need to be filed within one year from the date when you first knew, or reasonably should have known, that you might have been injured as a result of medical negligence. There are very limited circumstances (such as active duty military service, fraud or intentional concealment by the health care provider, or leaving a foreign body such as a sponge or instrument inside the injured person) which “toll” the limitations period, meaning the time limit stops running for as long as those circumstances continue.
If you are filing a medical malpractice claim on behalf of a minor child, the statute of limitations is typically three years from the date of injury. Sometimes there are exceptions to this, such as if the case involves fraud or other forms of illegal activity. For a victim who sustained an injury while they were under six years old, you must file the claim either within three years or before the child turns eight, whichever allows for a longer filing window.
How Long Does a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Take?
The timeline for a medical malpractice lawsuit will generally extend considerably longer than the timeline for a typical personal injury case. Medical malpractice lawsuits often require input from medical experts who can testify as to whether a defendant’s actions were justifiable under the given circumstances. The initial review process can also extend the time required to complete a medical malpractice lawsuit.
While medical malpractice lawsuits may run longer than other civil claims, there is one caveat to this that injured patients should remember. When a medical professional has committed any medical malpractice that is egregious, criminal, or beyond the hope of explanation, they will probably seek to settle the matter as quickly and quietly as possible. It is crucial for an injured patient in this position to consult with their San Diego medical malpractice lawyer to determine the best approach to settlement negotiations if the opportunity to settle is available.
In virtually every civil case, settlement offers all parties involved an easy and effective method for ending their dispute. In a malpractice lawsuit, if there is little to no room for the defendant to argue their mistake was honest and an expected potential outcome of the treatment in question, a settlement could be offered. Swift settlement allows the defendant to move past the situation and the plaintiff to secure their compensation quickly. However, defendants in malpractice claims can potentially face professional consequences and even lose their medical licenses for egregious medical negligence.
How Does Medical Malpractice Litigation Work?
A medical malpractice lawsuit begins on the date a plaintiff is harmed by a medical professional or on the date a plaintiff discovers harm done by a medical professional. The next step in a malpractice litigation is usually obtaining a second opinion (and sometimes, additionally, a third) to confirm that the plaintiff experienced harm due to medical negligence. An injured plaintiff should consult an experienced San Diego medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible after such an experience to determine the best method of starting their claim.
Once the plaintiff and their attorney have formed the foundation of their case and determined the scope of the plaintiff’s claimable damages, the next phase of a malpractice lawsuit is submitting the medical malpractice claim for formal review. Typically, the medical board with jurisdiction over the defendant will handle the review and then issue a Notice of Right to Sue to the plaintiff. At this point, the plaintiff and their San Diego medical malpractice lawyer may file their Complaint with the court and await the defendant’s response.
The healthcare provider owed the plaintiff a duty of care because they were engaged in a doctor-patient relationship at the time of the injury.In most cases, this relationship is established when a patient seeks any form of medical care and a healthcare provider agrees to provide this care. If a healthcare provider takes affirmative steps toward diagnosing, treating, or prescribing medical treatment to a patient, this also establishes a relationship even without an explicit agreement. This rule exists to ensure that people do not attempt to file frivolous lawsuits against medical professionals for off-the-cuff comments or things said outside of formal doctor-patient interactions.
The healthcare provider negligently violated this duty of care.Every medical professional must follow certain accepted standards for safely and ethically treating their patients. They are required to administer care according to these standards in a manner that would be reasonable with respect to their training, area of specialization, and geographic location. If a provider fails to act as a similarly trained provider in the same location would have acted under similar circumstances, this would be considered breaching duty of care.
The negligent duty of care violation caused the plaintiff to sustain an injury.For a valid medical malpractice claim, it is not sufficient to show that a specific diagnosis or treatment was wrong, and simply violating duty of care is not malpractice. Instead, a claimant must prove that the provider either acted in an inappropriate manner or failed to act and this negligent breach of duty of care directly caused the injury (causation).
The plaintiff incurred specific compensable damages due to their injury.Economic damages may include:
Medical expenses for past, current, and ongoing treatment – emergency room care, hospitalization, surgical procedures, prescription medication, assistive devices, home healthcare, physical or occupational therapy, etc.
Loss of earning potential
Non-economic damages may include:
Physical disability or impairment
Permanent scarring or disfigurement
Pain and suffering
Loss of consortium, companionship, or enjoyment of life
Claimants should remember that while the potential recovery for a successful medical malpractice claim can be quite significant, California does place some restrictions on the compensation a plaintiff may receive from their claim. Specifically, the state limits the amount of non-economic damages, or pain and suffering compensation, that a victim of professional negligence can receive to $250,000. Additionally, the state also limits the amount a plaintiff can recover for their attorney’s fees using a sliding scale calculation method. California state law does not limit the amount of economic compensation a medical malpractice plaintiff can recover.
Medical Malpractice FAQs in San Diego
What constitutes medical malpractice in California?
In California, medical malpractice is defined by the following criteria:
A negligent act or omission to act committed by a healthcare provider
The act (or failure to act) occurred while rendering professional services
This act or omission serves as the proximate cause of a victim’s personal injury or wrongful death
The professional services being rendered were within the scope of services for which the provider is licensed and are not restricted by a licensing agency
Who can be held liable for medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice laws apply to all healthcare providers and facilities licensed in the state of California. Healthcare providers include, but are not limited to: doctors, nurses, physician’s assistants, surgeons, anesthesiologists, physical therapists, chiropractors, optometrists, dentists, psychologists, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, pharmacists, and different types of health aids. Facilities that employ healthcare providers include but are not limited to hospitals, health clinics, nursing homes, and laboratories.
How do I prove medical malpractice in California?
To prove medical malpractice, you must prove that the defendant named in your claim had a duty to adhere to the standard of care for the given situation and failed to do so. Your San Diego medical malpractice attorney will conduct a thorough investigation to find evidence relevant to the injury, including medical records, depositions from involved parties, witness testimony, expert testimony, information about the healthcare provider’s education or training, and the policies, procedures, or clinical practice guidelines established by the healthcare facility. After proving that the defendant’s negligent actions directly caused your injury, you must provide clear evidence showing the full scope of your claimable damages resulting from the injury.
Can I recover punitive damages in a medical malpractice claim?
Unlike compensatory damages that provide restitution for victims, punitive damages are designed to punish the offending party and discourage future unlawful behaviour. You can recover punitive damages in a medical malpractice claim if you can provide clear, convincing evidence that the defendant committed oppression, malice, or fraud. This means their actions were despicable and were carried out either intentionally or with a willfully reckless or negligent disregard of your rights or safety. A San Diego medical malpractice lawyer can help you determine if you are eligible for punitive damages.
Contact an Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you have suffered an injury due to medical negligence, securing the right legal representation is crucial for ensuring you accurately prepare your malpractice claim and obtain the best outcome in your case. Ken Sigelman, J.D., M.D. is an experienced physician and surgeon who is licensed to practice law in California and Florida, as well as before the United States Supreme Court.
For more than 20 years, award-winning trial lawyer Ken Sigelman has delivered clients exceptional verdicts, settlements, and arbitration awards, many of which involve recoveries of more than $1 million. Contact us today for a free consultation by calling (866)-971-8956 or submitting your details through our online form.
Ken Sigelman J.D., M.D. and his fellow attorneys at Kenneth M. Sigelman and Associates are medical malpractice experts, and bring that knowledge to cases involving the Federal Tort Claims Act to help you get the compensation you need!
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