If you're like most people, you've been conditioned from an early age to put your trust in medical professionals. When that trust is violated, it has emotional as well as physical consequences. Although many people tend to view these as isolated incidents that only affect a minute part of the population, a study at Johns Hopkins Medicine suggests that medical errors comprise as much as one-third of fatalities in the United States.
Those left behind when a loved one dies as the result of medical negligence are often traumatized to the extent that they're unable to function normally, which can adversely affect their ability to earn a living, erode family and community ties, and generally put their lives in a downward spiral. Children may feel as if they've lost not one parent but two as the surviving spouse struggles to deal with the aftermath of the incident and are cast into an overwhelming caregiving role.
Besides untimely death, medical errors may result in permanent physical and emotional impairment that greatly reduces the quality of life for the patients as well as their family members. Medical bills and adaptation to the home environment to accommodate mobility issues caused by medical error can cause financial ruin in many cases.
If you or someone you love has been harmed by medical error, you need an experienced medical malpractice law firm on your side. Here's what you need to know about medical negligence.
What Constitutes MedicalMalpractice?
The term "medical malpractice" refers to an injury or death that is caused by negligence by a health care professional. The following conditions must apply for something to be considered malpractice under the law:
- Failure to meet the standard of care. The standard of care is defined as the kind of care that competent health care professionals would provide in similar circumstances.
- An injury or death must have occurred as a result of the negligence.
- The injury or death must have resulted in significant damages.
There are many possible scenarios that could lead to medical malpractice, including the following.
- Misinterpreting or failure to consider lab results
- Unnecessary surgery
- Prescribing the wrong drugs or dosage
- Failure to consider the patient's history
- Failure to perform appropriate tests
- Premature discharge and substandard aftercare
- Surgical errors
Failure to inform the patient of known risks of a procedure or medication
Additionally, there must be a professional relationship between the plaintiff and the health care professional for a medical negligence suit to be filed. For instance, if you overhear a medical professional providing advice to someone in a social context, the law does not allow you to sue that person if you take that advice.
Because there are gray areas involved in determining what constitutes medical malpractice, it's important to connect with skilled Cincinnati medical malpractice lawyers with substantial experience in this field.
What Does It Take to Win aMedical Malpractice Lawsuit?
Medical malpractice claims involve complex litigation, and winning them is no easy feat. The key to winning these cases is being able to prove that the health care professional's action or inaction directly resulted in harm to the patient. Proving that correlation can be difficult. For instance, if someone has a heart condition and dies during surgery to correct or alleviate that condition, it has to be determined that the cause of death was a surgical error. Surgical procedures come with certain risks, so it's not a given that a death on the operating table is the fault of the doctor.
Affidavit of Merit/Certificate of Merit
Ohio and Kentucky have specific requirements for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. In Ohio one must file an affidavit of merit from a medical authority when the case is initiated in court. In Kentucky, one must file a certificate of merit with the complaint. This affidavit/certificate vouches for the validity of your claim, and without it, the court is very likely to dismiss your case.
Successful medical malpractice suits involve testimony from other medical professionals to prove the existence of a violation of the standard of care. For this reason, it's extremely important to hire medical negligence lawyers with deep connections in the medical community.
Cap on Damages
Many states apply a cap on monetary damages in successful medical malpractice suits. Plaintiffs in Ohio are limited to $250,000 in pain-and-suffering damages and up to three times the amount of documented economic damages not to exceed $350,000 for single plaintiffs and $500,000 in cases involving multiple plaintiffs.
In cases where the injuries are deemed catastrophic, the pain-and-suffering damages are capped at $500,000 in cases with individual plaintiffs and $1,000,000 for multiple plaintiffs. Catastrophic injuries are determined by the following criteria:
- The loss of an organ, an arm, or a leg
- Significant lifelong deformity
- Injuries so severe that the plaintiff can no longer care for themselves
Kentucky does not impose a cap on damages.
Juries are often naturally sympathetic to doctors and other medical professionals, which adds a trickle element to successfully navigating a medical malpractice trial. Plaintiffs in these suits need to have legal representation that presents a compelling and clear picture of exactly what the health care professional did wrong.
Is It Possible To Negotiate a Medical MalpracticeSuit Outside of a Courtroom?
Because medical malpractice cases typically require specific prerequisites before they can be presented to the court, settlement negotiations aren't terribly common before a lawsuit is filed.. Insurance companies that specialize in malpractice policies are typically more aggressive about defending these cases than other types of insurers because of the often large amounts of money involved.
However, that doesn't mean they can't happen, especially with the assistance of lawyers specializing in medical malpractice. Your attorney can explain medical malpractice settlement options to you in detail.
Fighting for Your Rightto Compensation
Have You Been a Victim of Medical Malpractice in Cincinnati?
The Ohio and Kentucky statute of limitations for medical error is generally one year. There are various factors to consider when determining when the one year begins to run. In any medical malpractice case, time is of the essence and you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible.
Please don't hesitate to contact our team of Cincinnati medical malpractice attorneys for a free consultation if you suspect that you or a loved one has experienced medical malpractice.
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