If we don’t feel well, we check with our doctors and have faith that they’ll treat us. In most cases, these people are professionals who do a fantastic job. However, a small portion of medical workers don’t always provide care at the highest standards we expect.
Do you feel as if you might have been a victim of substandard medicalcare?
If that is the case, you should find the best medical malpractice lawyer Charleston SC can offer. Before you do that, take a look at this guide. It answers the most common questions clients usually have about this topic. If you feel as if you have any more dilemmas or it is time to contact a lawyer, we are at your service.
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What Is Medical Malpractice?
Malpractice simply means that a professional does not meet proper standards of care in that professional’s discipline or field of endeavor. The most common reasons for that are negligence and/or incompetence.
Malpractice in the medical setting occurs when a practitioner fails to provide health care that meets the standards of practice in that particular medical specialty.
Medical patients presume that a given medical professional will provide health care that meets the applicable standard of care; unfortunately, that sometimes is not the case, and the consequences can be calamitous.
Here are some common examples of medical malpractice:
- Misdiagnosis – It occurs when a healthcare provider provides a wrong diagnosis for the patient. It could also mean failing to diagnose the illness in a reasonable timeframe.
- Mistakes during surgery – Inadequate anesthesia administration, leaving foreign objects in the body of the patient, operating on the wrong organ, and the like.
- Medication errors – prescribing the incorrect medication or improper dosage of the correct medication or failing to understand other medications that a patient is taking, causing adverse reactions.
All healthcare providers can be subject to medical malpractice lawsuits. That not only includes doctors and dentists, but also nurses, technicians, and other personnel providing medical services at a healthcare facility.
What Do Medical Malpractice Lawyers Do?
The medical malpractice lawyer guides the client through the entire case. Everything starts by talking to the client to establish if there are elements to file a lawsuit. The attorney should analyze every detail related to the case carefully. The lawyer’s task is to advise the client on whether a malpractice claim should be made.
If the attorney accepts the case, various steps must be taken to proceed with an appropriate claim. Some of those steps include:
- Talking to the plaintiff, medical experts, and anyone involved in a particular case. Your attorney should take depositions from all relevant parties.
- Find relevant medical records, collect information, and analyze it carefully. If necessary, discuss the matter with a legal nurse advisor and other professionals. Consider calling experts as witnesses if the case requires that.
- Gather details and collect information about the client’s injuries and potential causes. Organize medical exams to assess the plaintiff’s injuries realistically. From there they will work on connecting the injuries of the client to the party who they are suing.
If you are seeking the best medical malpractice lawyer in Charleston then make sure you choose one that will leave no stone unturned. Choosing an attorney who will dig to uncover every detail is crucial in helping the client build a case and win it.
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What Is the Statute of Limitations on Medical Malpractice?
The statute of limitations is the timeframe you have to file a lawsuit against your healthcare provider. The time restriction might vary from one state to another. In South Carolina, the statute of limitations on medical malpractice is set at three years, with certain exceptions that shorten the period to two years. The clock starts when the substandard medical care took place.
You have a very slim chance of winning a medical malpractice lawsuit if you miss the three-year time limit. However, in certain cases of medical malpractice there may be an exception to this rule, so it is always worth checking with a medical malpractice lawyer to see if an exception applies to your situation.
The time when you discovered the injury becomes crucial in a case. If you discovered the injury on a later date than when the treatment occurred, you might be able to extend the deadline specified by the statute of limitations.
In that situation you have three years from the moment of discovering the injury, but under one condition. You can’t file a medical malpractice lawsuit if more than six years have passed from the moment when you suffered the injury (it becomes irrelevant when you discovered it).
What Are the Chances of Winning a Medical Malpractice Suit?
The statistics available for medical practice lawsuits offer mixed information. If the two sides agree to a settlement, 60% of the cases have a positive outcome for the plaintiff. However, if the matter comes to a trial, statistics would argue that you only have a 20% chance of prevailing in the case.
But those are only statistics, and evidence is crucial in deciding whether you will win a medical malpractice suit. That is why you need the best lawyer in your corner. It is essential to find an attorney with years of experience in the area.
Additionally, you should contact a lawyer as soon as you discover the injury. A legal professional will advise you on whether you have a basis to file a lawsuit.
If yes, you will give enough time to the lawyer to build a strong case. By acquiring evidence and getting every detail straightened out, your chances to win the lawsuit increase significantly.
What Is the Average Settlement for Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
Once you file a medical malpractice lawsuit, there are two options. The first one is to get a settlement with the other party, and the alternative is to head to court. The statistics show that in the rare instance of a successful trial verdict the average award may exceed $1 million, while the average settlement is around $420K. The advantage of a settlement is that it is certain; trial verdicts are not.
However, trials bring a higher risk of ending up with nothing because of numerous issues involved in these highly complex cases; moreover, prosecuting substandard medical cases is extraordinarily expensive. That is why most lawyers and clients decide on a settlement.
Here are the elements that could affect the size of your settlement:
- Injury severity – Permanent injuries and disabilities often lead to higher payments.
- Evidence – The strength of your evidence can play a role in deciding the settlement amount.
- Your financial losses – What were your medical expenses? Did the injuries affect your earning capability and led to job or wage loss?
Finding an expert medical malpractice lawyer in Charleston SC is extremely important to make sure you obtain the highest settlement sum possible for your case. You should never engage a lawyer who does not specialize in this type of case since small details could affect the entire outcome.
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How Long Does a Medical Malpractice Case Take?
Many factors contribute to the length of a medical malpractice case. Statistics show that cases last anywhere from several months to three or more years.
Here are the factors that could prolong a medical malpractice case:
- You are suing multiple parties – The lawsuit might involve doctors, nurses, technicians, and even healthcare facilities. It takes time to gather evidence and to discuss and determine the participation of each of those parties.
- Complex issues and many witnesses – Perhaps the case is complicated for some reason. It could involve a large number of witnesses, or it is difficult to determine the responsibility of the sued party at first.
- Tactical delays – If the defendant has an experienced lawyer, he might try to delay the process. That is often done to delay a trial date or other resolution of the case in the hopes of pressuring the plaintiff to accept a lower offer.
The general rule is that trials take a lot more time than settlements.
What Is the Basis for Most Medical Malpractice Claims?
Experienced attorneys that have expertise in this area are aware that four elements form the basis of a medical malpractice case:
- Duty – A medical professional had a legal obligation to provide care for the plaintiff. If the sued party is a doctor, the easiest way to prove this is to confirm the plaintiff was their patient when the injury occurred.
- Breach – The lawyer moves on to determining that the sued party broke the “standard of care” required to treat the patient optimally.
- Connection/Causation – The next step is to identify how the patient’s injury is connected to the doctor breaching their duty, that is, caused by the substandard care.
- Proving the consequences/injuries/damages – The patient must be able to prove the extent of the injuries and losses caused by the substandard medical care. Actions performed by the sued party should cause the disabilities, injuries, and other consequences the plaintiff might experience.
How Do I Know If I Have a Medical Malpractice Case?
Here are some factors that could help you determine if you have a medical malpractice case:
- Visible injuries and damages – Do you have injuries that you can prove are a consequence of medical malpractice? Those could be physical injuries, damages, and disabilities that affect (or have affected) your quality of life or earning capabilities.
- Timeline – Is your injury a consequence of a medical treatment that occurred within the last three years? Did you only discover it recently?
- The other party admitted their mistake – Your doctor might have been forthright, done the right thing and admitted the mistake. You were contacted and informed at least one error was made in treating you.
- No informed consent – A doctor needs to inform the patient about all actions and procedures he plans to take. If he failed to explain benefits and risks, and you might have chosen otherwise if you were properly informed, you might have a medical malpractice case.
If you believe there are elements supporting the filing of a medical malpractice law case, contact your lawyer immediately. A professional can guide you through the process and increase your chances of winning the case.
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How to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
You need to take care of various details when filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. That is why getting the best medical malpractice lawyer fighting for you is a wise move. An experienced attorney will not only help you gather the evidence but also guide you through paperwork requirements.
The state of South Carolina requires you to file a Notice of Intent to Sue before actually filing the law case itself. The purpose of the Notice is to inform anyone who could be a potential defendant that you will be filing a suit. Additionally, that is a way of notifying them of the basic details of the suit and involved parties.
You file the Notice of Intent to Sue with the relevant court in South Carolina. Along with this document, you also need an expert affidavit. A medical expert should sign the document to strengthen the grounds of your claim. A skillful attorney can help you to secure the required paperwork and file it correctly.
How Does a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Work?
Here is a step by step guide into the stages of medical malpractice lawsuits:
- Consult your lawyer. Get an attorney that specializes in medical malpractice. He will review the case basics with you and determine what the best course of action is for your situation.
- Investigation and case review. Your lawyer will gather medical and other evidence related to your case. The investigation should be comprehensive because no detail should be missed in building a strong case.
- Hire witnesses. Independent medical experts can assess the medical care in question and assess your injuries and be on your side during the case. Her task is to convince the jury and relevant authorities that the sued party committed medical malpractice.
- The negotiation process starts. This stage usually starts with the discovery process, where each side explains evidence they have and how they plan to act in court. From here, you can head to mediation and negotiation to pursue a settlement solution.
- The trial. But only if necessary. If a settlement is unreachable, you head to court. During the trial, it is still possible to reach a settlement.
Since medical malpractice lawsuits can be complex processes, it is wise to have an experienced lawyer by your side.