Many patients have felt wronged by their doctors, but when is the offense serious enough to warrant legal action? Filing a malpractice claim takes a lot of time and comes with expensive legal fees, and patients are often not sure when they have a case.
Some patients believe they have a case after suffering very minor temporary injuries and find that they are awarded no compensation but still face steep legal fees. An experienced malpractice attorney can help you decide if you have a potentially successful case.
- There are no clear definitions of what a malpractice case should be, but there are certain circumstances that that make a successful case more likely:
- The patient suffered a serious or permanent injury—While many patients experience injuries as a result of negligent treatment by doctors, the large time investment and high costs of malpractice cases make it impractical for most attorneys to take on small medical malpractice cases
- The standard of care was breached by the doctor—Doctors are required to provide a standard of care to patients that dictate that they act in a way any other reasonable doctor in their position would act. If doctors met the standard of care but faced a complication with the patient, injuries will most likely not be considered negligence. All surgeries pose risks, and patients must agree to these risks of complications before undergoing the procedure.
- The injury was outside of the expected risks of the surgery— Patients must understand and agree to risks associated with their procedure, but if an injury occurs that is outside of that expected risk zone patients will have a higher chance of a successful malpractice case. Expected risks include dissatisfaction with the aesthetic outcome of the procedure. If patients have undergone successful cosmetic surgery where the doctor followed the correct procedural steps, there will be little case for malpractice over unhappiness with the outcome.
- The problem or injury cannot be fixed through other measures—If patients have no other options to ameliorate their situation, there will have a strong case for malpractice. If however a patient is dissatisfied with the results of a procedure
A 2011 study by Public Citizen found that over 60% of payments to medical malpractice claims were awarded for instances of significant temporary, permanent injury, and death.
People who do choose to file a malpractice case face a 23% likelihood of winning according to the Court Statistics Project. But though there are less medical malpractice cases filed today in the United States than there were in the early 2000s, the compensation rates have increased. Today the average compensation for a medical malpractice case is $400,000 compared to $19,840 for personal injury cases.
For patients who suffered serious injuries, lost wages, and increased medical expenses, these high levels of compensation will make the time and expenses of a malpractice case worth it.
If you or a loved one has suffered injury as a result of medical negligence call Gilman & Bedigian to schedule a free consultation.