If you have suffered an injury because of a medical professional’s negligence you may want to consider filing a medical malpractice claim to recover damages. When a medical professional’s treatment or diagnosis causes an injury, the consequences can be devastating. You may be faced with extraordinary medical bills, be forced to miss time at work, and experience extreme emotional distress. The damages you recover from a Los Angeles medical malpractice claim can help to cover these -and other – costs.
Call Los Angeles medical malpractice attorney Joshua W. Glotzer today to learn about how he can get you the money you need after an injury. For the past two decades, Mr. Glotzer has helped Los Angeles medical malpractice injury victims just like you recover millions in much-needed compensation. He knows how important a successful claim is to you and your family and will fight to make sure that you are fairly compensated. You have a limited amount of time to act after your medical malpractice injury, so do not hesitate to call Glotzer & Leib, LLP today.
Medical Malpractice Claims
Medical professionals in Los Angeles are held to a high standard of care when they diagnose and treat patients. When these medical professionals fail to live up to this special standard of care they can be held financially for any injuries that happen. When you pursue compensation with a medical malpractice claim you will be required to prove:
- The medical professional had a duty to exercise a certain level of skill, prudence, and diligence in diagnosing and/or treating you;
- The medical professional breached this duty;
- You suffered an injury; and
- There is a causal relationship between the medical professional’s negligence and your injury.
What is a Medical Professional’s Standard of Care?
A medical professional’s standard of care is determined by looking at what a reasonable medical professional would do under the same (or similar) circumstances. The standard of care is determined according to the specific type of professional that caused an injury. For example, a doctor who is under scrutiny in a medical malpractice claim will be compared to a reasonable doctor acting under similar circumstances, while a nurse will be compared to the reasonable behavior of another nurse.
A medical professional’s standard of care is something that must be determined in your case. You cannot prove that a medical professional breached a standard of care without first determining what that standard of care is. Your attorney will interview and question expert witnesses to nail down the specifics of the level of care that should have been met in your specific case.
The Breach of Care Must Cause Your Injury
It is not enough to establish that a medical professional breached their duty of care and you suffered an injury. In order to have a successful claim, you must be able to prove that the medical profession’s breach of care caused your injury. This causal link can be direct (e.g., a physician amputated the incorrect leg) or indirect (e.g., a surgeon performed your operation improperly, requiring additional surgery, and you suffer an injury in that second surgery). Proving that a breach of care caused your injury generally requires proving that the type of injury you suffered is a possible result of the medical professional’s negligent act.
Res Ipsa Loquitur
Sometimes an injury occurs because of a medical procedure, but the victim can’t seem to identify the specific cause of that injury. This poses a problem when a victim is required to establish a causal link between a medical profession’s conduct and an injury. In situations where this is the case, and the injury is something that would not have occurred unless a medical professional was negligent, you may be able to use the legal doctrine Res Ipsa Loquitur. The phrase literally means “the thing speaks for itself” and is a way for injured medical malpractice victims to recover compensation without pinpointing the medical professional’s negligent act. When you use this legal theory you will be required to prove:
- Your injury would not have have occurred unless someone was negligent;
- Your injury occurred while you were under the care and control of a medical professional; and
- Your own actions did not cause your injury.
Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Claims
California law imposes a statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice claim. In most situations, you will be prohibited from recovering compensation if you do not file your claim before the statute of limitations expires.The statute of limitations for a Los Angeles medical malpractice claim is within three years from the date of your injury or within one year of discovering your injury, whichever expires first. In most cases, this means that you will have three years from the date of the negligent act that caused your injury to file a claim.
There are certain situations when the statute of limitations can be extended. If you are a minor at the time of your injury or if you suffer an injury that would not be easily identifiable within the statute of limitations, the state can extend the statute of limitations. A classic example of an injury that could not reasonably be discovered within the statute of limitations when a surgeon leaves a sponge in your body after surgery. If you discover this injury a decade from now you will still be able to pursue compensation.
Medical Malpractice Claim Damages
What damages can you recover when you file a medical malpractice lawsuit? This is the number one question our clients ask during the free consultation process. In Los Angeles, medical malpractice victims can request economic, non-economic, and punitive damages in a lawsuit. The actual damages that you will be awarded will depend on the injuries you have suffered.
Economic damages can be awarded to compensate you for the financial losses caused by the negligent medical professional’s conduct. These damages are intended to essentially reimburse you for any current and future out-of-pocket costs and expenses related to your injury. Medical bills, lost wages, and reduced earning capacity are commonly awarded economic damages in Los Angeles medical malpractice cases.
You can only recover economic damages to the extent that you have experienced financial losses. This can, however, include projections for future costs that you expect to have. You will be required to prove your financial losses and expenses using receipts, bills, pay stubs, and even letters from your employer.
Some injuries, such as pain and suffering, affect each victim differently and are extremely difficult to assign a dollar value. This does not make these injuries any less serious. Non-economic damages can be awarded to compensate you for intangible injuries including emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, physical limitations, and embarrassment.
There is no set standard for determining how much someone’s suffering or pain is worth. A jury will decide on a reasonable award of non-economic damages based on the evidence in your case and their common sense. There are limits to how much you can recover in non-economic damages. The Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act places a cap of $250,000 on all non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases.
Punitive damages are not available in every medical malpractice case. You may be able to receive punitive damages if the medical professional in your case acted recklessly, with malice, or with fraudulent intent. California does not place a cap on punitive damages in medical malpractice cases.
Steps to Take After a Medical Negligence Injury
Have you recently discovered an injury that was caused by a medical professional’s negligence? The things you do today will determine how your future unfolds. Keep the following suggestions in mind to make sure that your medical malpractice claim is as successful as possible.
Seek Medical Attention
Get your injury checked out immediately to prevent any further harm. Your health and safety should be your first priority. The medical evaluation that is generated by your doctor will help to establish the causal link between a medical professional’s negligence and your injury.
The details of the incident that caused your injury will be lost or forgotten over time. Protect these details by taking photographs, keeping a journal, and requesting medical documents relevant to your case. Your attorney will use the information you gather as the foundation for an in-depth investigation.
Refuse Any Offers You Receive
The negligent medical professional, their employer, and/or their medical malpractice insurance carrier may be eager to settle with you before you take legal action. While you may be eager to get your hands on much-needed money, the offers you receive will not be enough to cover all of your costs. Insurance companies will manipulate a difficult situation and try to convince you that they have your best interest at heart. They do not. An insurance company’s priority is on its own bottom line, meaning that they will do whatever it takes to minimize the amount you receive. Ignore the temptation to take a lowball offer.
Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney
Victims who hire an experienced attorney to handle their case are more likely to be fairly compensated for their injuries. An attorney will:
- investigate your injury,
- create a persuasive legal argument, and
- secure a fair settlement offer from the negligent party (and/or their insurance company).
If you are not satisfied with the offers you receive, an attorney can take your case to court. For more information about how an attorney can help you with your medical malpractice claim call usa today.
Get the Money You Need After Your Medical Malpractice Injury
Filing a medical malpractice claim for damages can be a great way to get the money you need after an unexpected injury. However, these claims are extremely complicated and require in-depth knowledge of the law. If you have suffered an injury and are thinking about filing a claim you should speak with an attorney.
Call the Los Angeles medical malpractice lawyers at Glotzer & Leib, LLP to schedule a free consultation. We will review your case, explain the process of filing a claim, and answer the questions you have. The statute of limitations has already started to run, so do not hesitate to call us today.