If there are too many intervening events and causes between the defendant’s actions and your injury, this will not qualify as immediate. For example, a woman who sued her husband for causing the death of their son in a car wreck was not allowed to proceed with her claim of emotional damages because she was not physically present during the wreck, even though she arrived at the hospital immediately after and witnessed her son being brought in as they were trying to resuscitate him.
The first step is a letter of demand, a letter sent by your lawyer to the doctor or health facility concerned, setting out your claim and the period in which the accused should meet it. Thereafter, getting a case to court can take up to four years. Accurate case data and hospital notes have to be gathered; records relating to the patient’s prior medical history, treatment at the hands of the suspected transgressor, and any subsequent treatment must be obtained. Then, lay witnesses must be found, expert witnesses briefed and court dates agreed on. In addition, both the patient’s medical condition and prevailing medical treatments have to be researched.
Doctors and hospital officials who subscribe to this philosophy, such as those at the University of Michigan Health System, the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center, and Stanford University Medical Center say they tell patients when something went wrong and offer an apology and sometimes even compensation. They say the method is more humane and often eliminates lawsuits.
A doctor has to tell you about your condition, the nature of the proposed treatment, the risks of the treatment, and other options that you may have. You can’t consent to treatment unless the doctor gives you all this information. A doctor does not have to explain every possible risk, just the risks that a reasonable patient would want to know before deciding on treatment. This includes explaining what could happen and the likelihood of it happening.
If a doctor fails to make an accurate and timely diagnosis of a harmful medical condition, patients may pursue a legal remedy by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. One key question in these kinds of cases is whether the doctor breached the applicable "medical standard of care" under the circumstances. In other words, would a similarly-trained doctor in the same medical community have spotted the health problem (or identified it within a shorter period of time)? In the sections that follow, we’ll discuss some common misdiagnosis scenarios, and illustrate how a medical malpractice case might proceed.
My younger brother died almost 2 years ago. He coded (his heart stopped beating) a couple days after a colostomy procedure. The doctors rushed him into surgery as he was clearly bleeding internally. They didn't find the source of the bleed, but after looking for a while, gave up and closed the surgery anyway. He continued to bleed, which led to two more surgeries, more complications and his eventual death.
Plaintiffs can also sue for the negligent infliction of severe emotional distress that they experienced because of someone else’s injury. This types of suit occur sometimes when a person has to witness the injury or death of a loved one caused by another person’s negligence. However, to succeed on such a claim one must be able to prove that their distress was an immediate and foreseeable result of the defendant’s behavior. In addition, the plaintiff generally must physically witness the accident in order to be able to recover for this type of claim.
In a personal injury trial in Florida you can ask the jury to compensate you for non-economic damages, which include damages as the result of any bodily injury sustained by Plaintiff and any resulting pain and suffering disability or physical impairment, disfigurement, mental anguish, inconvenience or loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life experienced in the past or to be experienced in the future. (Florida Standard Jury Instruction, See 501.2).
Is our situation unique? According to the MPS report, in the United States there have been two waves of legal reforms prompted by medical malpractice claims: one in the mid-80s and another in the early 2000s. Reforms were driven by an increase in insurance premiums and concerns about access to health care. Since 2000, 29 states in the US have introduced limitations on damages; some limit both “economic” and “general” damages (compensation for pain and suffering), while others cap only general damages.
We offer a completely free, no obligation Medical Negligence Claim Assessment. We understand that suing your GP may not be an easy decision so we are here to help and advise you. We will take the time to listen to your complaint, and then explain whether you can sue a doctor, how long it might take, how you can fund the claim and how much compensation you might receive.
There are rare occasions where doctors or other medical service providers will admit they have made a mistake and will seek to come to some kind of settlement with an injured party. Tread lightly in these situations, as you may be trading a quick resolution for a substantially lower amount of compensation. However, in cases that are not particularly serious -- specifically, cases worth $20,000 or less -- you may find that settling directly with a doctor is possible.
If the doctor's mistake was one that a reasonable doctor would make, he has not acted negligently and has not committed medical malpractice. Often when a doctor fails to diagnose a medical problem, he may mistake the problem for something else and attempt to treat that. Likewise, if the medical problem is extremely rare, unknown, or difficult to identify, than a proper diagnose may not be possible.
The more evidence you have to prove your level of pain and emotional distress, the higher the adjuster’s offer will be. Your ability to persuade him of the severity and duration of your pain and suffering can also play a role. Guided by experience, computer input, evidence, and your persuasive abilities, the adjuster will come up with an amount he feels is justified.
I was an RN and suffered serious and permanent harm from my cancer surgery. There were many errors, including my waking up during surgery, life-threatening infection, internal sutures that did not dissolve, renal failure, a collapsed lung after hospital discharge, abscesses and wound dehiscence. Years later, I am homebound and unable to work. I would be making $80-100,000/year now or more but am stuck barely above poverty on Social Security Disability. Since I and the various insurances have spent over $2 million for my care, and I do not have enough money to obtain all the care and medications I need, I am very unhappy. I have a potential new abscess now. It is a living horror, and the cancer may return. I am always in pain. No attorney would take my case. Even the failure to diagnose the cancer for years, with facts right there for every doctor I went to with my symptoms, isn't actionable. I am however, alive.
Our son's case was a good example. There were many instances of error, but because he was single we couldn't bring case because there was no “pain or suffering” allowed for parents of adult children over the age of 25. I did call many attorneys and mostly was asked how old he was and if he was married. Then I got a rejection letter. The solution is very simple. Be honest when errors take place, and compensate victims fairly, then peace will come a lot sooner for everyone, including doctors.
A misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis itself is not evidence of negligence. Skillful doctors can and do make diagnostic errors even when using reasonable care. The key is determining whether the doctor acted competently, which involves an evaluation of what the doctor did and did not do in arriving at a diagnosis. This means looking at the "differential diagnosis" method the doctor used in making treatment determinations.
When it comes to determining the extent of physical pain, there are no computer programs to rely on. Each of us experiences pain differently. Even with today’s advanced medical technology, the best method doctors have for measuring a patient’s pain is a self-rated pain scale. This is when a doctor asks, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your pain?”
Damages for pain and suffering, including mental anguish, date back to Roman delicts, which is equivalent to today's tort system. The basic Roman delicts were iniuria (injury to person) and damnum iniuria datum (damage to property, including slaves). Under iniuria, the wronged party had to show that the tortfeasor acted willfully and intentionally to recover damages. The action was based on the plaintiff's "sense of outrage" and not on actual economic loss. Therefore the plaintiff could be compensated for "pain or distress of mind or body" in addition to any pecuniary damages. Whereas iniuria required a showing of ill will, damnum iniuria datum only required a showing of negligence. Eventually, Roman law evolved into only compensating for pain and suffering where the tort was intentional and only providing pecuniary damages in the sole case of negligence.
Failure to diagnose and misdiagnosis of an illness or injury are the basis of many medical malpractice lawsuits. Misdiagnosis on its own is not necessarily medical malpractice, and not all diagnostic errors give rise to a successful lawsuit. Even highly experienced and competent doctors make diagnostic errors. Instead, the misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose must result in improper medical care, delayed treatment, or no treatment, which in turn must result in a worsening of the patient's medical condition in order for the malpractice to be actionable.