In this New York case, a forty-year-old woman believed she felt a small lump in her breast during a self-exam, and went to her doctor. She was referred for a mammogram and underwent one. The radiologist treating her looked at the scans, and believed she had a clogged milk duct and it would just go away with him. But this lump didn’t just go away. In fact, it continued to grow and, a little over a year after her diagnosis, she went to the doctor again. At this time she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
In most cases, only the primary physician (your doctor) can be sued for misdiagnosis. In rare cases, other health care professionals may also be liable if their negligence caused or contributed to the patient’s harm -- including nurses, lab techs, and any specialists who may have seen the patient. The hospital or health care facility where the doctor practices usually cannot be sued for harm caused by misdiagnosis. That’s because most doctors are independent contractors, not employees of the hospital, so the facility can’t be held legally responsible for the doctor’s negligence.
Again – so what? Do you really want to be going to a doctor that injured you and caused you pain and suffering? There are much better options out there. You found this doctor. You’ll find another one. There are numerous resources available to help you find a new, more competent physician. A simple Google search of “find doctor New York” will yield a multitude of websites designed to do just that. If you have health insurance, contact your insurance company. They can usually provide you with a list of doctors in your area that are covered by your plan. Also, don’t under-estimate the value of your friends and family as a helpful resource regardless of whether or not you have insurance. Talk to them to find out what doctors with whom they entrust their health. In no time at all, you will be sure to find the right doctor for you.
General damages refer to damages that are not specifically monetary, for example, damages for pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and emotional trauma. There is no tangible bills or receipts that state a specific dollar amount for pain and suffering or emotional damage, but they are still losses for which an injured person deserves compensation nonetheless.
So, the best thing you can do if you think you have a good case against a hospital is to be a good client. Before you meet with a lawyer, make sure you know as much of the story as possible. How was your life before the medical negligence occurred? How was it after? Do you have any medical records from the hospital where you were harmed? You may not be asked for them at the initial meeting, but keep in mind that the lawyer may need your medical records to determine if there is medical negligence and if so, if suing the hospital would likely result in a trial verdict or settlement.
Not true! There are thousands of physicians sued successfully every year without ending in the loss of their licenses or practices. Although your doctor will have to spend some time defending the suit, throughout the process he will most likely still be able to see his patients and conduct his life as normal. Furthermore, after the conclusion of the suit, he will most likely go back to treating his patients – albeit, hopefully, more carefully this time.
Traffic tickets can affect your claim, and if the insurance company determined that you were partially at fault for the car accident, then the amount of settlement could be worth less. If you were not at fault and depending on your attorney’s negotiating skills, you might possibly get the full settlement. If the driver who caused the accident was driving under the influence, then he or she would need a criminal defense attorney, as they might be fully held liable for causing the car accident.
Generally, it is in your best interest to hire an attorney if you can. An attorney will know how to navigate the legal system, will know the substantive considerations for your lawsuit, and will take a significant amount of work off of your plate. However, if you cannot afford an attorney or, for other reasons, absolutely must file and prosecute your lawsuit on your own it is possible. You can find additional resources to help you through this process throughout our site at HG.org.
(3) A professional may be held liable for negligence on one of the two findings: either he was not possessed of the requisite skill which he professed to have possessed, or, he did not exercise, with reasonable competence in the given case, the skill which he did possess. The standard to be applied for judging, whether the person charged has been negligent or not, would be that of an ordinary competent person exercising ordinary skill in that profession. It is not possible for every professional to possess the highest level of expertise or skills in that branch which he practices. A highly skilled professional may be possessed of better qualities, but that cannot be made the basis or the yardstick for judging the performance of the professional proceeded against on indictment of negligence.
Another potential cause of action is intentional infliction of emotional distress. This is based on a doctor’s outrageous conduct that intentionally or recklessly causes a patient to suffer severe emotional distress. This must be beyond a mere slight as it must be something that would outrage society. The common law tort required a physical manifestation of injury, but most jurisdictions no longer require this element. This cause of action has been successful in some cases in which patients recorded their doctors performing medical treatment while mocking and ridiculing the patient to a serious degree.
In most cases of medical negligence, you can only file a lawsuit with your doctor. Since most doctors are independent contractors, the hospital or facility is usually not liable. Sometimes other related health care professionals can be sued if they contributed to causing you harm. These professionals include nurses, lab techs or other medical specialists.
Patients are responsible too—as a patient, you have the power to manage your healthcare. You must give the doctor all the important information about your condition, your medical history, and any other relevant information. If you don’t, and that leads to an error in diagnosis or treatment, it will be your fault, not the doctor’s. As well, a doctor is not responsible for problems if you don’t follow the doctor’s advice and your failure causes the problem. For example, if you get sick after surgery, it would be hard to prove that a surgeon was negligent in operating on you, if you don’t follow the surgeon’s instructions for recovery.
First, you need to figure out what the legal wrong was that you believe could form the basis for a lawsuit. Once you have figured out what it might be, you will need to research the elements of the case. Just because you feel certain something is wrong and should be addressed by the courts does not mean that it will resolve itself. You have to go through some very specific processes to secure your rights, and failing to do so could jeopardize your claim. These rules and procedures are not secret, and are actually quite easily found, but only if you know what you are looking for, where to look, and that you even need to look in the first place. This is why most people opt to hire an attorney rather than run a case on their own. Attorneys are specially trained and familiar with these procedures, and much less likely to miss something than someone without this experience who is trying to navigate this process for the first time.
As you read this, don't assume she passed because of her heart. The surgery was successful, as expected. It was the aftercare that killed her: Avoidable infections, overdose of heparin, lines becoming dislodged, a doctor collapsing her lung while removing a drain tube. It seemed endless but was only 95 days. One heart surgery with a 99.9 percent success rate and a week of recovery in the hospital turned into three heart surgeries, an exploratory abdominal surgery and seven hospital associated infections and 95 days later, her death. I wish there were a medical court (of sorts) that patients could go to without an attorney. They could file a complaint and sit in a room with the doctor, nurses, specialists and a panel of “judges” and plead their case. Ask their questions. No attorneys. No “specialists.” Just a place to get answers, and, if needed, monetary compensation. Personally, I just wanted answers.
A case can be opened only if the alleged malpractice happened less than three years previously. There are a few exceptions to this general rule. If the injured party was under 18 at the time of the incident and his or her parents failed to seek compensation on behalf of the child, on turning 18, the child has one year to seek compensation on his or her own account. An injured party suffering from a mental illness has three years to make a claim on recovery from this illness. Exceptions might also be made if the injured party was compelled to be outside South Africa during the three-year intervening period.
Establish that Medical Negligence Occurred – Medical negligence occurs when a healthcare provider violates the medical standard of care, or the professionally-accepted method for diagnosing or treating a specific condition. The standard of care may vary depending on factors individual to each patient, such as age, geographic location, overall health, and the specific condition.
Pain and suffering is a term used to define the physical and mental suffering that a plaintiff endures as a result of an injury. It is a component of the plaintiff's damages. So, in a medical malpractice case, the defendant health care provider can be liable for the harmed patient's pain and suffering, in additional to other damages like the cost of medical treatment and lost income.
The incident that caused the stress must have been due to extreme or outrageous negligence and that the actions caused you emotional harm. For example, if you are involved in an accident with a drunk driver in which a family member was killed, you may be able to file a claim for emotional distress due to the negligence of the driver in getting behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated.
Doctor's surgeries also have a legal duty to provide an acceptable level of care to their patients. This will take into consideration issues such as waiting times, diagnoses and administration. If the surgery fails to reach the standards reasonably expected of the medical profession, and this directly harms their patients, the doctor's surgery will have been negligent.
The doctor's negligence caused the injury. Because many malpractice cases involve patients that were already sick or injured, there is often a question of whether what the doctor did, negligent or not, actually caused the harm. For example, if a patient dies after treatment for lung cancer, and the doctor did do something negligent, it could be hard to prove that the doctor's negligence caused the death rather than the cancer. The patient must show that it is "more likely than not" that the doctor's incompetence directly caused the injury. Usually, the patient must have a medical expert testify that the doctor's negligence caused the injury.