While a majority of medical staff members are trained and skilled professionals, negligence or carelessness on the part of a doctor can result in traumatizing, debilitating, and costly medical errors. If you were injured by your doctor, hospital or other healthcare provider, the attorneys in our Lakeland office may be able to help you file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
At Morgan & Morgan, our attorneys can work with medical experts to investigate the conditions and circumstances surrounding your medical care to determine whether you have a valid claim for medical malpractice. If so, we may be able to sue your negligent healthcare provider and recover compensation for medical bills and other losses associated with your injuries. To learn more about what’s involved in filing a lawsuit, contact us today for a free consultation.
What Is Medical Malpractice? Do I Have a Case?
Your ability to sue will depend on a number of factors, including the cause of your injury. Suffering a complication after undergoing surgery or having a bad experience with a doctor is not enough to have a valid claim. Medical malpractice strictly refers to instances in which your healthcare provider was negligent. To have acted negligently, your healthcare provider must have failed to adhere to the medical community’s standards of care, which were established to protect patients against preventable harm.
If your doctor or nurse failed to act as another medical professional would have acted in a similar situation, they may have breached their duty to uphold these standards. If you were injured as a result, you may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Example of Medical Malpractice
A woman goes into labor early and, during delivery, her doctor notices that the child is still in the breech birth position. It is the hospital’s policy that, in these situations, a cesarean section should be ordered to reduce the risk of complications to both the mother and child. Instead of ordering a cesarean section, however, the doctor decides to deliver the child vaginally. He fails to pay close attention to the child’s vital signs during this time, and the umbilical cord becomes compressed, resulting in a lack of oxygen to the fetus.
When the child is eventually born, he is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a birth defect that results from a deprivation of oxygen. This doctor’s negligent actions include both his failure to order a c-section and failure to properly monitor the child’s vital signs. The woman sues the doctor alleging that another reasonable obstetrician would have ordered a caesarean section and ensured the child’s oxygen levels were closely monitored.
Who Am I Suing?
This will depend on the details of your case. Medical malpractice lawsuits are not limited to those against doctors. If you were the victim of medical malpractice, you may be able to sue any of the following people or entities:
- Hospitals: Hospitals are liable for the actions of their employees. Therefore, you may be able to sue your hospital if the negligence of a nurse, medical technician or other employee caused your injury. It is important to note that, despite common belief, many doctors are not hospital employees. Therefore, if you were injured as a result of your doctor’s negligence, you may be able to sue your doctor specifically.
- Nursing Homes: Like hospitals, nursing homes are liable for the actions of their employees. They have a duty to ensure their facilities are adequately staffed, their employees are properly trained, and all new employees are adequately screened before getting hired. If you or a loved one was injured as a result of the facility or an employee’s negligence, you may be able to file a medical malpractice against the nursing home where this negligence took place. Examples of nursing home negligence include failure to provide adequate security to prevent residents from wandering outside the facility and failure to turn residents to prevent bedsores.
- Failing to check medical records before administering drugs
- Administering the wrong medicine or wrong doses of a medicine
- Neglecting medical conditions that warrant treatment or medicine
- Failing to properly care for patients after an operation
- Negligent prenatal care
- Failing to diagnose a medical condition in the mother that could affect her delivery, such as preeclampsia (high blood pressure and protein in urine), Rh incompatibility (the mother’s Rh factor – which signifies a certain protein exists on her red blood cells – does not match that of her child’s), hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), anemia (when the body does not have enough red blood cells) or gestational diabetes (high blood sugar)
- Failing to identify birth defects or an ectopic pregnancy (one which occurs outside of the womb)
- Failing to diagnose a disease that could be contagious to the child, such as genital herpes or neonatal lupus (an autoimmune disorder)
- Negligence during delivery
- Failing to anticipate birth complications, such as an umbilical cord wrapped around the child’s neck or macrosomia (a large baby)
- Failing to respond to signs of fetal distress
- Failing to order a caesarian section
- Improperly using surgical tools such as forceps or a delivery vacuum
- Failing to investigate patients’ medical histories for possible complications
- Failing to inform patients about risks that may result from failure to follow preoperative instructions, such as fasting
- Administering incorrect levels of an anesthesia drug
- Failing to monitor patients’ vital signs
- Improperly intubating patients (putting a tube in the patient’s trachea to assist with breathing)
- Using defective equipment
- Failing to tell patients about all potential risks associated with their surgeries
- Failing to sanitize all surgical tools
- Puncturing internal organs or damaging nerves
- Operating on the wrong body part or patient
- Failing to count all surgical tools before and after a surgery
- Failing to monitor patients following operations
- Failing to offer timely medical treatment for patients
- Failing to diagnose a medical condition or making a misdiagnosis
- Improperly caring for patients
What Will My Lawyer Do?
First, your lawyer will launch an investigation into the cause of your injury by reviewing your medical records, the healthcare provider’s history and any other relevant documents. This will help determine whether your injury was caused by another’s negligence and could have been avoided. If so, your attorney will compile this evidence in a written complaint, which will detail the allegations you are making and serve as the basis for your lawsuit. The complaint will detail your injury, the alleged cause of your injury and why the responsible party should be held liable for your injury.
Next, your attorney and an attorney for the defendant may try to reach a settlement; however, if settlement negotiations prove to be unsuccessful, your attorney will officially file your lawsuit in court. At this time, your attorney may consider settlement talks once again. Otherwise, your attorney will represent you at trial. He or she will present your case in a convincing manner to the judge and jury by calling expert witnesses to the stand and providing new evidence to further support your claims.
Finally, the judge or jury will make a decision regarding whether the entity you are suing is responsible for your injuries. If they find that the defendant was negligent, they will determine the amount of compensation you will receive. In some cases, both parties may reach a settlement agreement during trial before a judge or jury issues a final decision.
At Morgan & Morgan, our Lakeland attorneys know how to express complicated legal and medical concepts in ways that a judge and jury will easily understand. We have years of experience handling medical malpractice lawsuits and are not afraid to bring your case to trial.
What Can I Collect Through a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
Through a medical malpractice lawsuit, you may be able to recover compensation for the following:
- Past and future medical bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Loss of consortium (family relations)
- Pain and suffering
- In the case of death, funeral expenses
How Much Will My Lawyer Cost?
The attorneys in our Lakeland office work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that they will only charge you a legal fee if they are able to win or settle your case.
If you or a loved one was injured and you believe it may have been caused by a healthcare provider’s negligence, you may have legal recourse. To learn more about filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, contact us today.