There are many reasons that a doctor can be held liable for negligence. Diagnostic tests such as blood work, MRI, ultrasound, CT scan, or x-rays are crucial when there is a possibility of internal injury, head injury, broken bones, organ failure, or illness. Failing to order these tests can result in a doctor diagnosing a sprain instead of a bone fracture, or missing pneumonia in a patient that they diagnose with asthma. Without the benefit of a CT scan, a patient diagnosed with a concussion could actually have a serious head or neck injury that can have permanent repercussions.
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.
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The patient must prove that they suffered pain, lost wages, have costly medical bills, or have experienced a significant loss in the quality of their life or in their ability to live independently because of the misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis. Compensation for pain and suffering may be available to the patient in addition to compensation for their physical injuries.
In order for you to determine whether or not the care your grandmother is receiving has fallen below the standard of care you need to consult another physician for a second opinion. Even if you were not thinking about lawsuits, generally a last resort, you should be consulting another physician, that you have confidence in, to ensure that your grandmother is NOT injured. Lawsuits will not repair damage to her. You only have one of her in this lifetime, do everything you can to advocate for proper and adequate care for her. She needs you, not a lawsuit.
Returning to the fender bender case example, in small claims court it would be pretty easy to make your case. You could produce a police report showing the reporting officer’s conclusion that the other driver was likely at fault. You could produce two sworn written statements from eyewitnesses saying that they saw the other driver run the stop sign. And you could produce two repair estimates to establish what you lost.
The mother filed a lawsuit against the theme park, alleging that her son’s “skin had a negative reaction to the paint used on his face at Legoland that has caused him great pain and suffering, as well as two years of humiliation by other child and deep emotional distress.” They are seeking more than $15,000 in damages for Legoland’s alleged negligence and for negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Medical malpractice cases can be timely and costly, which is why most such cases are settled out of court. In addition, because medical malpractice insurance companies reject a significantly large portion of medical malpractice claims, it may be in your best interest to settle out-of-court or risk having no case at all. Keep in mind, however, that if you believe you have a strong case, then you should seek a larger settlement.
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.