When you visit a doctor or other healthcare professional, you rightfully expect to receive reliable and safe care for your illness, injury, or condition. Unfortunately, doctor errors, neglect, and other incidents can result in worsened and additional damages to a patient.
If you were injured while in the care of a medical professional, consider reaching out to a compassionate Michigan medical malpractice lawyer to discuss your situation and legal options. When the negligence of a doctor, surgeon, nurse, or hospital results in your injuries, you should not have to shoulder the burdens of additional medical bills and lost wages alone.
A dedicated and seasoned attorney could work tirelessly to guide you through the legal system and build a persuasive claim to recover for your damages. However, before pursuing a claim, it is essential to understand how malpractice is defined, as well as the steps you need to take to file a claim.
Defining Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice, also known as medical negligence, is the legal term used to describe a doctor or other medical professional’s careless, reckless, or malicious behavior that leads to a patient’s injuries. However, malpractice goes far beyond a simple mistake or error in care and also covers severe mistreatment and maltreatment.
For example, many times, a doctor or hospital fails to use appropriate treatment methods or, other times fails to diagnose a patient’s illness properly. This negligence could result in minor to severe injuries and worsened conditions, as well as life-altering damages and even death.
Each medical professional who attends to a patient owes them a legal duty of care. Therefore, a successful malpractice claim must demonstrate that a medical provider neglected their duty of care toward a patient—by misdiagnosing their condition, for instance—and that this neglect led to their injuries. Unfortunately, many victims of malpractice do not seek compensation for their damages because they are unaware that they have legal grounds for a claim based on a doctor’s error, or they are simply unsure of how to proceed. However, by working with an experienced Michigan medical malpractice lawyer, a victim of a doctor’s errors could learn their legal rights to pursue compensation.
Types of Doctor Errors
While instances of medical malpractice often occur at hospitals, there are numerous circumstances and types of medical professionals who can be deemed legally negligent. These include mistakes made by physicians, as well as chiropractors and other specialists. Common types of malpractice from these and other medical providers include, but are not limited to:
- Unnecessary and improper treatment
- Misdiagnosis of cancer
- Unnecessary tests and procedures
- Medication mistakes—such as ordering the wrong prescription and unwanted allergies
- Uncoordinated care
- Malfunctioning equipment
- Missed warning signs
- Radiology errors and misread x-rays
- Nurse neglect
- Early discharge
- Emergency room errors
- Failure to identify the cause of illness in time or to diagnose an illness
- Surgeon mistakes and surgical fires
- Anesthesia errors
These and other circumstances—such as a surgeon leaving equipment within a patient, or a doctor failing to follow up with a patient—may result in worsened conditions, as well as any number of additional damages. These include infections, burns, paralysis, birth injuries, and even untimely death. A compassionate medical malpractice attorney could work with a victim in Michigan—or the loved one of a deceased victim—to assess their circumstances and determine if medical malpractice has occurred.
Fatal Cases of Malpractice
In some tragic cases of malpractice, a patient will die as a result of a medical professional’s negligence. While these situations are always difficult for the surviving family, they do still have a legal right to pursue a claim on the basis of wrongful death.
Here, the decedent’s family may request compensation for number damages, including loss of emotional support, comfort, companionship, society, and consortium, as well as loss of earnings, financial support, and work-related benefits. Essentially, these claims look to help a surviving family with the subsequent emotional and financial burdens during this challenging time.
The Ensuing Legal Process
No matter how prevalent and apparent an injury resulting from malpractice is, however, the ensuing legal case is often complicated. Because negligence must be proven, the steps and procedures in place to reach a decision are usually thorough, exhaustive, and confusing. As a result, any injured plaintiff may benefit from the counsel and knowledge of a Michigan medical malpractice lawyer.
Once a lawsuit is filed, both sides must engage in “discovery.” Here, each side can investigate what the other is going to say and present at trial. The defendant—who, in this case, might be hospital, nurse, doctor, or surgeon who made the error—will be permitted access to the victim’s medical files, work history, and income records. A claimant may also be requested to undergo a medical examination. On the other hand, the defendant is also subject to discovery, and must, therefore, answer written and oral questions about their professional background and qualifications, as well as present testimony about the case-specific treatment they administered.
Once discovery is finished, both parties often attend mediation or facilitation to discuss, and perhaps attempt a settlement. If the parties cannot agree on a settlement amount, however, the judge will set a trial date. As a trial proceeds, the jury will eventually determine if the medical professional was, indeed, negligent. Each step of this process requires legal knowledge and a specific understanding of state law. A medical malpractice attorney could stand by a claimant’s side through each step and provide valuable counsel about how to proceed.
Seeking Compensation for Malpractice
While any medical treatment has inherent risks, any form of medical malpractice can leave an injured patient in a worse state than before taking prescribed medication, undergoing surgery, or receiving another type of care. Even if an individual signed a consent form before a procedure, they have not waived their legal right to file a malpractice lawsuit.
As a result, a civil claim for compensation may request a number of damages stemming from both economic and non-economic losses. These may include the costs bared for subsequent treatments and care, as well as lost wages from missed time at work and a calculated decreased earning capacity.
However, many victims also incur psychological turmoil following a doctor’s error or mistake. Therefore, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, mental anguish, and other forms of emotional damage may also be included in a claim. The nature of these losses may be difficult to calculate, however, due to their lack of a definitive price tag. A caring Michigan lawyer could help a claimant to assess any and all of their financial and emotional damages from medical malpractice in order to request fair compensation.
Damage Caps When Seeking Compensation in Michigan
In general, cases against a doctor, hospital, or other licensed medical professional are subject to the limits on damages. This includes negligence by a physician, nurse, or other licensed professional. Many times, the negligence was committed by an unlicensed person—such as a nurse’s aid—and under those circumstances, the caps would not apply to damage limits.
Other times, however, the negligent facility is not a licensed medical provider—such as many assisted living facilities and AFC homes—and damage caps do not apply in those cases, either. Each case must be looked at carefully to determine if the damage cap limits apply.
The Deadlines to File a Malpractice Claim
Anyone looking to file a lawsuit for a doctor’s error or ther malpractice should be aware of the statute of limitations. This is the timeframe where a court will likely hear a claim, meaning any legal action taken after this deadline may face dismissal.
The statute of limitations provides a two-year deadline from the date of the injury wherein an injured person may file a claim. However, there are some rare occasions where the two year time period can be extended. For example, a lawsuit may be brought within six months after the claimant discovers or should have discovered the existence of the claim, so long as it is brought within six years after the act or omission.
This deadline might also be extended in cases involving minors and babies. This extension is frequently utilized in childbirth injury and cerebral palsy cases. If a child is less than eight years old when malpractice occurs, that child has until their 10th birthday to bring a lawsuit. If a child is eight years old or older, then the regular two-year deadlines applies. However, while there may be exceptions to this timeframe, a skillful medical malpractice lawyer could help a potential plaintiff file a claim that satisfies the statute of limitations in Michigan.
Working with a Michigan Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you or a loved one was injured while under the care of a hospital, doctor, physician, or other medical professionals, a Michigan medical malpractice lawyer could help. After suffering an injury, however, you may be traumatized, unsure of how to proceed, and possibly unaware that you have legal rights to file a claim.
By working with a tenacious and well-versed attorney, you could understand your legal rights and begin pursuing a claim for a doctor’s errors. A legal professional could help to investigate your unique circumstances, consult any relevant experts, and build a claim on your behalf, so that you may focus on your recovery. To begin investigating the cause of your medical injury, call an attorney at Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. today.
Michigan Malpractice References and Resources