Medical malpractice results in thousands of severe injuries and fatalities in the state of California each year. Patients have the right to seek financial compensation for harms suffered due to the medical negligence of practicing medical doctors and physicians. Medical malpractice claims are not only reserved for medical doctors by can also include, hospitals, health care centers, chiropractors, dentists, nurses, and pharmacists.
Expert Medical Malpractice Legal Representation: Medical negligence lawsuits are considerably more difficult to litigate when compared to many other personal injury claim. In one study only 27% of medical malpractice trial cases resulted in a beneficial outcome for the plaintiff in comparison to 52% for all other personal injury type claims. Under these circumstances it is vital to seek legal representation from medical malpractice lawyers who have the depth of knowledge and expertise to handle your case.
Types of Medical Malpractice
There are numerous sorts of medical malpractice acts that are common. Some of the most widespread and harmful types of medical malpractice is provided below.
Failure to diagnose or delayed diagnosis of a harmful disease or conditions including failure to conduct proper tests in evaluating cancers or heart disease.
Surgical errors – common errors during operations include performing the wrong surgery, wrongful amputation of the legs, removal of the wrong organ, damage to the nerves, anesthesia errors, leaving foreign objects inside the body following procedures and failure to provide informed consent.
Medical malpractice in the emergency room: Following an after an auto accident, slip and fall or other serious accidents requiring medical attention. Usually the result of over crowing or inattentiveness by emergency room staff and medical providers.
Birth Injuries – improper use of forceps and vacuum extraction, such cases often result in significant nerve injury and a diagnosis of erb’s palsy or cerebral palsy.
Medication Errors – improper dosage or being given the wrong drug altogether.
Nursing home medical errors – including medical neglect. Many patients in nursing homes will suffer from severe bed sores due to the inattentiveness of medical providers. According to followed practice patients who are immobile must be turned form one side to the other so as to prevent bed sores. Another major issue for nursing home and elderly care centers is the contraction of deadly infections.
Other types – Dental and oral surgery malpractice, falls from hospital beds, slip and fall and trip and falls in a hospital,. chiropractor malpractice, botched cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery, infections contracted in hospitals due to lack of sanitary conditions or sanitary operating rooms.
Legal Definition of Medical Malpractice – What is Medical Negligence:
Doctors and medical physicians must follow specific guidelines delineated by their profession in their conduct during the treatment of a patient’s medical issues. Medical malpractice can be established when a failure to follow such guidelines is the cause of severe injuries to the patients.
For Example: If a diabetes patients is admitted to the hospital with a severe infection to the foot the practicing physician must perform tests including the taking of live cultures in order to determine whether the foot is infected. A case for wrongful amputation can be established when the practicing physician fails to conduct such tests or does not wait for the live culture of the test to reveal a positive identification for a severe infection before amputating the foot.
Elements required establish a Claim for Malpractice under California Law
There are four essential elements in a successful medical malpractice claim.
One – Duty Owed by the Practicing Medical Provider: The duty that is owed by the medical provider is predicated on a set course of action established by the medical specialty the practitioner is a member of for a given medical condition. The medical provider is bound by his specialty to follow the established guidelines. Any deviation from the pre-established procedures will be a violation of the duty. Note: A medical doctor does not have a duty to provide medical care for non patients.
Two – Was there a Breach of the Medical Providers Duty of Care: A breach of a duty of care is established when there is any sort of deviation from the standard of care established by the medical specialty.
Three – Causation – did the breach of the duty of care result (or cause) the harm that was suffered. Causation can be a rather difficult element to prove often requiring expert testimony from the medical field at large. One way to overcome causation is to show the presence of “Res Ipsa Loquitur” Latin for “it speaks for itself” In order to present this notion a plaintiff’s attorney will have to show that the injury could not have taken place otherwise (no other possible reason for the harm suffered), the defendant has exclusive and complete control of the instrument that resulted in the harm, and that no other individual had control over the instrument that caused the harm.
Four – was there an actual injury. Medical documentation of the harm suffered is necessary in order to show that there was actual harm suffered.
Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death Claims in California
Historically our common law system did not allow for family members of the deceased to receive any financial recovery from the at fault defendant. In the early part of the 20th century many jurisdictions including California passed specific statutes granting certain family members of the deceased the right to file a civil claim for monetary damages for the death of a loved one.
Those who can file a Wrongful death Motion in California: Specific individual have the right to file a claim for the death of a loved or family member.
- Spouse of the deceased
- Domestic partners
- Children of the deceased
- Parents or sibling of the deceased – if there are no surviving decedents (children or spouse) and are entitled to the property of the deceased via intestate succession.
- Financial Dependence: In certain instances family members of the deceased are able to retrieve economic compensation if they were in some way financially dependent on the deceased.
Statute of Limitations for Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
In the state of California medical malpractice lawsuits must be filed within ONE YEAR from the date of the incident. This differs from other personal injury claims which have a statute of limitations of two years. In some instances court may allow for the case to go forward despite a filing after the one year statutory deadlines. Common examples where courts have allowed for a tolling of the statute of limitations in medical malpractice matters are as follows.
- For Economic Damages: All medical and health related costs, cost of future medical and rehabilitation expenses, lost wages, property damage, and loss of future earning capacity due to long term or permanent disabilities.
- For Non-Economic Damages: Pain and suffering, emotional and mental anguish and punitive damages.
- Note on MICRA Caps for Non Economic Damages: In the state of California recovery for non economic damages is capped at $250,000. Thus individuals can only recover a maximum of $250,000 in non-economic damages.
Medical Malpractice Claim against Kaiser Permanente Hospital
Kaiser Permanente in the largest provider of medical care in Los Angeles and the State of California at large. As a result the Kaiser system receives the largest number of civil claims for monetary compensation on behalf of injured patients. Claims against Kaiser are different than other malpractice claims in that claimants who are part of the Kaiser system must sign an arbitration clause. Thus members will have no choice but to follow a specifically delineated arbitration process on order to receive financial recovery. If you have any further questions regarding how the process works feel free to contact our law offices.
Compensation Available for Victims of Medical Malpractice
Victims of medical malpractice are entitled to compensation for both economic and non economic damages sustained. The potential value of a medical malpractice cases is dependent on several factors which are unique to each cases. Some of the most important factors in determining a cases potential value include the following.
- The degree of harm that the plaintiff suffered – the specific type of injury that was suffered due to the wrongful actions of others play a significant role in the overall potential value of a personal injury case.
- Incurred medical costs associated with the treatment of the injury.
- Cost of future medical care, treatment, nursing and home care due to the injury and development of long term disability. A life care planner will be able to estimate the yearly costs of the necessary medical treatment based on the specific injuries and disability suffered.
- Life expectancy of the individual – a person who suffered from life altering harm at a younger age will likely have a higher case value because of the expected yearly costs of his medical care are multiplied by the years he is expected to live.
- Loss of income and future loss of earnings potential.
- Pain and suffering compensation – including emotional distress, anxiety, mental hardship, depression, the development of post traumatic stress.
- Punitive damages: Courts may award punitive damages on cases where the wrongful party acted intentionally or acted with reckless disregard for the life and health of patients.
- Availability for Spousal Loss of Consortium: Loss of consortium compensation is available for spouses of those who have suffered harm. They are entitled to recovery for the loss of love, companionship, sexual relations, and emotional support due to the harm affecting their husband or wife.
Note on MICRA Caps for Non Economic Damages: In the state of California recovery for non economic damages is capped at $250,000. Thus individuals can only recover a maximum of $250,000 in non-economic damages.
MICRA Restrictions on Attorney Fees and Provisions: The state of California has placed a cap on the amount an attorney can charge in a medical malpractice case:
- The first $50,000.00 attorney fees on medical malpractice cases are capped at 40.00%
- On the second $50,0000.00, the fees are capped at 33.33%
- On any moneys recovery from $100,000.00 to $500,000.00 the fees are capped at 25.00%
- On any moneys recovered past $600,000 the fees are capped ar 15.00%.
Cost of Hiring an Attorney – Legal Representation
Victims of personal injury are often hesitate to seek help for their case because of the seemingly high cost of legal representation. This concern is not unfounded; many attorneys will ask potential clients for thousands of dollars in initial retainer fees just to review their medical records in order to determine the existence of a medical error. In order to avoid such concerns our law firm has made the decision to work on medical malpractice claims strictly on a contingency fee basis. This means that our clients will not have to pay us anything upfront. We will review your file free of charge, determined the viability of your case free of charge, and we will not charge you a single penny until there is a financially successful resolution of your claim. If we are not able to sin your case you do not have to pay us back for any legal costs or fees. To learn more about our Zero Fee Guarantee see here..
Attorney Help: Our law offices are proud to represent victims of medical malpractice and medical negligence including surgical errors in Los Angeles and the rest of Southern California. All consultations and case reviews are free as you never have to pay to speak to an attorney.