When we make use of the medical system, we expect it to help us improve our condition. At the very least, we generally believe that they will “first do no harm.” Unfortunately, though, medical professionals are prone to errors just like the rest of us. In their field, though, the consequences can often be severe. The costs that are created by medical malpractice should be compensated by those who made the error. A Pomona medical malpractice lawyer, like those at Belgum, Fry & Van Allen, can seek to make that happen.
For a case to be one of medical malpractice, it must be an error or negligence that occurs while administering medical care. As the process of medical care grows more and more effective, it also grows more complex. This means that there are a lot of different parties involved in administering care, especially in more serious and complex cases. This also means that there are quite a few potentially liable parties. Some of these include:
While medical malpractice can be seen as a variation of personal injury law, it does have some differences and special requirements. One of the most important differences is a Notice of Intent. This must be served to whatever parties that may have committed medical malpractice at least 90 days prior to a claim actually being brought in court. It will need to contain some critical information, including:
Another important part of the medical malpractice claims process in Pomona, CA is a Certificate of Merit. The purpose of this is to keep frivolous claims from bogging down the legal process. These certificates must be signed by a qualified medical expert. In most cases, this will mean someone who is a peer of whatever party you are attempting to file a claim against. That medical expert must certify that there is a legitimate, reasonable basis to believe that your situation and injuries were a result of medical malpractice.
Our attorneys work closely with medical experts, often collaborating with professionals who could also serve as expert witnesses for a car accident case in Pomona, due to their medical expertise in injury cases.
The central element in proving medical malpractice is showing that you were not provided with the standard of medical care that you should have been in that situation. Three key steps are involved in proving malpractice: establishing the duty of care, showing the standard of care was not met, and connecting the medical error directly to the injury. Our truck accident lawyers also apply similar diligence in establishing negligence in their cases.
Firstly, it must be shown that the defendant was indeed responsible for providing you with care. There must be a provider-patient relationship demonstrated.
Your lawyer must then be able to prove the kind of care that you received. They must demonstrate the diagnosis, prescribed treatment, actual treatment given, or anything else pertaining to the alleged malpractice.
Your attorney needs to demonstrate that the treatment was not the standard of care that you should have received. It’s important to recognize that this is distinct from being the incorrect treatment. Because the practice of medicine is always evolving and being refined, there are times that the standard treatment may later be improved upon. What matters is that you should have received the standard treatment at the time.
To prove that your care was less than the standard often involves testimony from peers of whoever the claim is being brought against. Most people in the courtroom will be unfamiliar with what should have been done, but quality expert witness testimony can help enlighten them.
Lastly, your lawyer, possibly with the help of a medical expert witness, must connect the malpractice directly to some injury that you suffered. If you were prescribed the wrong medication, but there was no harm as a result, then you have no grounds to collect damages. Therefore, the extent of the harm done and its connection to the malpractice must be demonstrated.
A Certificate of Merit allows the courts to avoid having to handle medical malpractice claims that lack merit. The process involves a medical expert, who is usually a peer of the defendant in the claim, signing a certificate stating that they believe that there is sufficient evidence for a claim to be made. Your lawyer can help find a medical expert who is qualified to sign this certificate.
Medical malpractice claims generally need to be filed very quickly. The statute of limitations in these claims is just one year, meaning that you have one year from the time of the injury to file. Given the need for a Notice of Intent 90 days prior to filing, this means that you only have about nine months to decide whether to file.
There are a few exceptions, however. A key one is the discovery rule, which starts the one-year clock at the time when the injury is discovered if it wasn’t noticed right away. Nevertheless, even in these cases, there is a limit of three years for when a claim could be filed.
Even then, though, some limited exceptions to the three-year limit exist. Given the strict timeframe and complexity of the statute in these cases, it’s important that you contact a lawyer quickly after you realize that you are injured.
There is a damage cap on California medical malpractice claims. However, that cap only applies to non-economic damages, which compensate for losses like pain and suffering, mental anguish, or loss of enjoyment in life. There is no cap on damages for economic damages, so you will not have to worry about that impacting your medical bills. Assuming that you win your claim, these will be covered.
The damage cap on the non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases will increase over time. In 2023, it begins at $350,000, but there will be an annual increase until 2033, when it will top out at $750,000. A Pomona medical malpractice lawyer can update you on the latest cap.
Your lawyer is responsible for helping you seek fair, reasonable compensation for the injuries that you’ve suffered as a result of medical malpractice. They can investigate the injuries that you suffered and the medical decisions surrounding that injury. This can help them identify the properly liable parties and gather evidence to prove their liability.
Once your attorney has completed their investigation, they can help file a Notice of Intent and Certificate of Merit on your behalf. If there is an opportunity for a negotiated settlement, they can participate in that negotiation on your behalf. If a settlement can’t be found, though, they can then represent you and make your case in court.
Medical malpractice often has the effect of taking a bad situation and making it worse. These cases, however, can be difficult to prove. It’s important to be able to explain exactly what harm was caused by medical malpractice and wasn’t a product of the original condition.
Working with a Pomona medical malpractice law firm, like Belgum, Fry & Van Allen, whose lawyers can understand and argue the complexities of these cases, is essential to getting the compensation that you deserve. Contact us today to set up a consultation for your case.