Medical malpractice can happen to anyone. What should you know regarding medical malpractice? If you’ll keep reading, you’ll learn what steps to take if you are injured by medical malpractice and you need the services of an Indiana medical malpractice attorney.
The statistics and facts about medical malpractice are disturbing. In the United States, medical malpractice is the third-leading cause of death. Everyone seeking medical care is at risk. For over two decades, the number of fatalities attributed to medical malpractice has been on the rise:
- In 1999, the Institute of Medicine claimed that about 100,000 patients in U.S. hospitals were dying every year due to preventable medical negligence.
- In 2010, the Department of Health and Human Services reported that over 180,000 fatalities a year in hospitals in the U.S. are linked to medical negligence.
- In 2013, the Journal of Patient Safety reported that every year, between 210,000 and 440,000 patients in U.S. hospitals are victims of medical negligence which contributes to their deaths.
The British Medical Journal now estimates that each year in the U.S., about twelve million patients are misdiagnosed either by physicians or by other medical professionals. Research also indicates that about half of all misdiagnosed patients are at risk because of their misdiagnosis.
How is Medical Malpractice Defined?
Medical malpractice can be defined as a medical provider’s negligence (or a healthcare facility’s negligence) which causes a decline in a patient’s medical condition, additional injury, or wrongful death.
Doctors, nurses, dentists, anesthesiologists, pharmacists, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, clinics, and other providers of healthcare services are all potentially liable for medical malpractice, depending on the details of a specific malpractice incident.
What Are Some Common Examples of Medical Malpractice?
Examples of medical malpractice include but aren’t limited to:
- pregnancy-related injuries and birth injuries (to the mother or to the child)
- mistakes when prescribing drugs
- misdiagnosing or failing to diagnose patients
- failing to monitor a patient properly
- surgical errors and emergency room mistakes
If you know or suspect that you’ve been victimized or injured in a medical malpractice incident in Indiana, discuss your claim, your options, and your legal rights as soon as possible with an Indiana attorney who has extensive experience representing the victims of medical malpractice.
What Will a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Do on Your Behalf?
An Indiana medical malpractice lawyer will evaluate your injury claim and discuss your legal rights and options. One of those options is filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Of course, taking legal action cannot restore anyone’s health, but a lawsuit gives a victim of medical malpractice an opportunity to hold negligent medical providers liable for their negligence.
Indiana law entitles the victims of medical negligence to compensation for additional medical costs, pain and personal suffering, and related losses – provided that you and your attorney can prove that your health declined or that you were injured as a direct result of medical malpractice.
How Do You Succeed With A Medical Malpractice Claim?
A medical malpractice lawsuit is a civil action that seeks monetary compensation for a malpractice victim’s losses and damages. For a medical malpractice lawsuit to prevail in Indiana, the victim (called the “plaintiff”) and his or her attorney must prove the following:
- The plaintiff sought or was provided medical treatment and/or services from a health care provider or medical facility.
- The health care provider or medical facility deviated from the applicable standard of care, in other words, failed to act as other providers or facilities would have done in the same or similar circumstances, and that failure constitutes medical negligence.
- The plaintiff was injured, somehow damaged or deprived of the opportunity of a better outcome as a direct result of that negligence.
There is always risk involved with almost any medical treatment. The healthcare provider is obligated to obtain informed consent, meaning they provide the patient with the substantial risks, benefits and alternatives to the treatment about to be given. Until and unless you are informed and understand the risks and benefits that are involved and alternatives available, we suggest you reconsider agreeing to any medical treatment or surgical procedure.
What Else Should You Know About Medical Malpractice Lawsuits?
The majority of medical providers in Indiana are dedicated and professional. They take special care to reduce risks to their patients, but a small number of other healthcare providers do not, and sometimes corners are cut.
In Indiana, medical malpractice claims must be filed within two years of an alleged incident of medical malpractice (there are a few exceptions to this rule, for example if the patient is a minor, incapacitated or could not have reasonably discovered the negligence, or the provider actively concealed the neglect or continued making the same error).
If you are suing for over $15,000 in damages, your claim must also be submitted to and considered by a medical review panel before it can move to trial, if the health care provider is qualified under the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act, which most providers are.
You should not wait two years, and you really should not wait at all to speak with an attorney after an incident of medical malpractice. Your attorney will need time to investigate your claim, obtain your medical records and will prefer to examine any evidence while it’s still fresh and speak with any witnesses before their memories begin to fade.
Is There a Limit to the Compensation You Can Receive?
The right Indiana medical malpractice attorney will guide your claim through the complicated legal process. The amount of recovery that you may receive through a medical malpractice lawsuit—against a qualified provider—is “capped” by Indiana law:
If the malpractice incident happened after June 30, 2017 and before July 1, 2019, the cap is $1,650,000, and the medical provider is not required to pay more than $400,000 (with the Indiana Patient Compensation Fund providing the remainder up to $1,650,000).
If the malpractice incident happened after June 30, 2019, the cap is $1,800,000, and the medical provider is not required to pay more than $500,000 (with the Indiana Patient Compensation Fund providing the remainder up to $1,800,000).
Some medical malpractice cases in this state are resolved privately with out-of-court settlements. A good Indiana medical malpractice lawyer is also an experienced negotiator who will advocate aggressively on your behalf for the maximum amount of compensation that’s available.
What Will Justice Cost You?
If an acceptable settlement offer is not forthcoming in the private negotiations, your medical malpractice attorney can take your case to trial, often hire expert witnesses on your behalf to explain how the standards of care that apply to your case were deviated from, explain to the jurors how you were injured by medical malpractice, and ask those jurors to order the payment of your compensation.
In the aftermath of medical malpractice, you may be struggling financially, but this should not keep you from seeking justice. Most medical malpractice lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, so you pay no attorney’s fee until and unless your lawyer recovers compensation on your behalf.
If you are a victim of medical malpractice – or if, frankly, you’re not sure – take advantage of the free first legal consultation that our lawyers provide with no obligation. You’ll learn where you stand legally, and if you have a medical malpractice claim, you will be able to begin the legal process.