Losing a loved one in a serious accident is one of the most traumatic experiences you can suffer.
Nothing can erase the pain, but there’s a legal solution to getting monetary compensation if someone else caused the accident.
When someone’s death occurs at the fault of another party (such as a car maker), their family members can sue for wrongful death. Such a case seeks damages for the loss incurred by the deceased’s dependants, like lost companionship, lost earnings, and funeral expenses.
Here’s an overview on how a wrongful death lawsuit works. You’ll find out what it is, the common causes, who can bring a wrongful death suit, and how to bring a wrongful death suit.
What’s a Wrongful Death Suit?
Representatives of the victim file a wrongful death suit when someone dies due to the wrongful or negligent act of another individual. In the case of a negligent or intentional homicide, the prosecutor can bring charges and start a criminal case against the party responsible.
However, the deceased’s family also has a civil option in bringing a wrongful death case against the party at fault for the death.
The deceased’s family can recover various damages. Some of these damages include the deceased’s pain and suffering before death, medical bills, and lost wages. A jury may also award compensation for the loss of financial assistance and companionship from the deceased.
What Makes up a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In any wrongful death case, the family of the deceased can bring a case that the death was due to the defendant’s actions. To have a successful wrongful death case, the deceased’s family must show:
- That the defendant caused the victim’s death
- The defendant was negligent, reckless, or intentionally caused the death of the victim, or that the accused was strictly liable in causing the victim’s death
- There are surviving dependents and beneficiaries
- The surviving dependents and beneficiaries have suffered financial loss after the victim’s death
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
Lawyers that focus on wrongful death lawsuits and claims are usually involved in various cases with familiar causes, such as:
- Birth injuries
- Medical malpractice
- Product defects
- Motorcycle, automobile, or truck accidents
- Premises accidents
- Occupational hazards and exposure
- Assisted living and nursing home abuse and neglect
- Criminal actions like stabbings, shootings, and blatant violence
- Supervised activities like field trips, day care, and adult care
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit
A representative of the deceased’s family must bring forth a wrongful death case. In most cases, it’s the executor of the deceased’s estate who files the claim.
The deceased’s beneficiaries and dependants vary with states, so read more here.
Immediate Family Members
Immediate family members such as spouses, kids, and parents of singletons can file wrongful death suits in all states.
Distant Family Members
In some states, distant relatives like siblings and grandparents can file wrongful death claims.
For instance, a grandparent who’s looking after a child can sue for wrongful death.
Parents of a Dead Fetus
Some states allow parents to file a wrongful death suit if their fetus dies. Several other states don’t allow this. In those states, parents can only sue for wrongful death if the child was born alive and died shortly thereafter.
Life Partners, Putative Spouses, and Financial Dependents
In some states, a life or domestic partner, a putative spouse (someone who strongly believed they were in a marriage with the deceased), or a financial dependant can file a claim.
All People Who Suffer Financially
In some states, everyone who suffers financially due to the death can file a wrongful death case for lost support or care. This applies even if they aren’t related to the victim by blood or marriage.
What’s Statute of Limitations
Learning the statute of limitations in your state is an important step when filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Each state has its own time limits within which someone can bring a wrongful death suit.
- The statute of limitations in Florida is two years from when the death occurred.
- The statute of limitations is also two years in California.
- The statute of limitations in Montana is three years.
In some cases, the wrongful death statute of limitations takes effect from the date of the death while in others it’ll take effect on “discovery of harm”.
For instance, if a doctor fails to diagnose cancer and the error isn’t discovered for years, the statute of limitations might not begin until the patient discovers cancer.
If your state’s statute of limitations has run out, then, unfortunately, you won’t be able to file a wrongful death suit.
How to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
At first, your lawyer might try to settle your case by demanding compensation from the defendant. If your case isn’t settled here, your next move is to file a certain document known as a complaint to get the wrongful death case started.
The plaintiff is the individual filing the lawsuit while the defendant is the person hit with the lawsuit. The complaint gives the reasons why the defendant is being sued by the plaintiff. It also states the law supporting the plaintiff’s case and what damages are being demanded by the plaintiff.
A third party serves the complaint to the defendant.
The defendant has a specific time to respond to the complaint, like 20-30 days. This response is normally known as an answer. The reply states the defendant’s defense against the plaintiff’s claim and aims to get the plaintiff’s claim dismissed.
Hire an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney Today
If your loved one died due to another company’s or person’s negligence or wrongful actions, you should hire a local wrongful death attorney.
With more than 300 law firms across the country, Halt Lawyer Directory is the best resource for finding the right attorney for your needs.
For more legal information and advice about a wrongful death lawsuit or other cases, be sure to browse through our blog.
A recent John Hopkins study has found that a shocking 250,000 people in the US die every year due to medical malpractice. It is the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer.
If you or a loved one has fallen victim to malpractice, here are few things that you need to do, to seek legal assistance.
1. Document Everything
It’s possible for records to get lost so it’s important that you record everything that happens to you.
Document important conversations that you had with your healthcare providers, and anything else you think that an attorney may need to know like date, times, and names of doctors and nurses.
This will help your case move forward a lot faster.
2. Request Your Medical Records
Medical records from your health care provider will be key evidence in for your case. You have the rights to get these records, and you shouldn’t have to give a reason for why you want them.
If anyone makes it difficult to retrieve your records, contact an experienced lawyer, such as those that work at the Decker Law Firm.
Review the records to make sure they are complete. They can be retrieved by giving the patient’s name of the records department of where they received their care.
3. Ask Questions
You have the right to know what’s going on with your health and body. Don’t be afraid to ask the nurses and doctors questions regarding your care.
Be direct and ask questions like “What’s going on?” or “Why is this happening?” They legally have to answer you.
4. Ask for an Investigation
In some cases, if the situation is serious enough, you can request an investigation of the healthcare facility.
The hospital most likely won’t share or publicize their findings so it might not benefit you in a way that you would like but, it can raise awareness about your case and you could get an explanation from the risk manager.
It might not help settle your malpractice case, but it will give you some peace of mind.
5. Hire A Lawyer Who Specializes in Medical Malpractice
Once you’ve done these necessary steps, it’s time to call a malpractice lawyer. If you don’t know a malpractice lawyer, call an attorney you trust for a referral.
A malpractice lawyer can tell you if you have a case, and also if it’s worth pursuing. It’s a long and complicated process, so in some cases, it might not be.
Often these lawyers will offer a free consultation to talk about your claim and offer you advice.
What To Do in the Case of Medical Malpractice
Thousands of Americans fall victim to medical malpractice every year. It’s important to take the initial steps before consulting an attorney so you can gather the necessary documents for the case. The attorney can tell you from there if it’s worth pursuing. The best thing is to take a deep breath and keep a clear mind.
Check out our blog for more information to help you get the money you’re entitled to!
Over the course of the last several days, there has been a flurry of discussion regarding Netflix’s latest documentary, The Bleeding Edge. Much like its predecessors (Making a Murderer, The Keepers, Evil Genius), this hour and forty-minute film (directed by Kirby Dick and produced by Amy Ziering) takes a very raw and uncensored look at the $300 billion medical device industry and how, every year, thousands of innocent people fall victim to its profit-driven agenda; begging the ultimate question, what price is the American public paying for the sake of advancing medical science?
Sadly, The Bleeding Edge is rife with examples of the price Americans are paying for the sake of advancing medical science. Interviews with women having received the Essure permanent birth control device reveal how over 35,000 women have had their lives reduced to chronic pain, autoimmune disorders, and hysterectomies as a result of Bayer’s failure to report the side effects associated with its device. Individuals having received metal hip implants discuss their development of cobalt chromium metal poisoning and the related onset of debilitating neurological deficits. Other women detail the multiple and painful surgeries they have undergone in an attempt to remove the vaginal mesh strangulating their bodies, which had originally been used to help stabilize and reinforce weakened pelvic muscles often caused by childbirth and aging. Even more women discuss how sections of their colon exploded from their bodies following their surgeons’ use of the robotic, da Vinci System.
For years, industry has pushed this idea that newer is better and that new and “innovative” medical devices put us on the “cutting edge” of science. However, The Bleeding Edge most accurately dispels this myth, delving into the world of medical devices, exposing the stark reality of how industry’s push for “innovation,” coupled with a lax regulatory system, actually puts us on The Bleeding Edge of science, as every time a patient agrees to the implantation of a medical device, he or she is unknowingly subjecting his or herself to unimaginable harm, or even death.
THE MEDICAL DEVICE INDUSTRY IS ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL INDUSTRIES IN THE WORLD
Over the last ten years, 70 million Americans have been implanted with a medical device. These devices are a part of our everyday lives, ranging from dental floss and tongue depressors, to pace makers and catheters. Stryker, one of the leading manufacturers of hip and knee replacement components had a net revenue of $12.7 billion in 2017. Bayer, the manufacturer of several contraceptive devices, including, Mirena and Essure, made well over $40 billion in revenue, and Johnson & Johnson, a manufacturer of vaginal and hernia mesh made over $76 billion in revenue in 2017. The profit margin of the medical device industry is frightening in that it has afforded these companies the opportunity to infiltrate our lives under the guise of medical advancement, all the while exposing us to perilous harm.
THE PROCESS BY WHICH THE FDA APPROVES MEDICAL DEVICES IS SIGNIFICANTLY OUTDATED
The Bleeding Edge highlights the misconception under which many Americans operate – that their medical device has been adequately tested and deemed safe and effective for use by the FDA. Since 1976, it has been the responsibility of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate the approval of medical devices. However, since 1976, the complexity, type, and number of medical devices has vastly increased, but whether they are released for public use is still based on a system created over 40 years ago; one clearly incapable of contemplating today’s technology.
98% of all medical devices are not tested prior to approval. Rather, manufacturers are able to acquire approval of medical devices by the system known as the 510(K) process. To obtain approval under the 510(K) process, a manufacturer is only required to show that its device is substantially similar to another (predicate) device that was previously approved by the FDA; absolutely zero safety testing is required. This is true even if the predicate device was taken off the market for safety concerns. Per the FDA, in considering a 510(K) application, it does not check the predicate device for safety issues, or to see if it has been removed from the market; it only looks to confirm that it was actually approved by the FDA. Consequently, much like a genetic mutation, approving a product that is based on the design of a device that has been found to be unsafe, promotes the production of faulty devices in generations to come.
WE CAN NO LONGER RELY ON THE MEDICAL DEVICE COMPANIES AND THE FDA TO DO WHAT IS IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF PATIENTS
Even more, The Bleeding Edge calls attention to the seemingly biased and corrupt workings of the FDA. FDA officials and physicians charged with the responsibility of determining whether a device should be approved, more often than not, have stock or other monetary interests in those exact devices before them for approval. For example, prior to Dr. Scott Gottlieb (current FDA Commissioner) being appointed commissioner, he not only worked as a consultant to a range of medical industries, but he worked for a venture capitalist firm, New Enterprise Associates, that specialized in the investment of startup medical device companies, which has invested $14 billion in over 500 companies, including the development of the very controversial permanent birth control device, Essure.
MEDICAL DEVICE MANUFACTURERS ARE NOT HELD ACCOUNTABLE
Another misconception addressed by The Bleeding Edge is that the FDA has the data it needs to regulate or recall medical devices. Some safety issues with a device do not become apparent until after the device is already on the market. In these instances, a manufacturer has an absolute obligation to monitor and report such safety issues (adverse events) to the FDA. If enough adverse events are reported for a particular device, the FDA will then decide if the device needs: further safety testing; stronger warnings; or to be pulled from the market altogether. However, if the FDA is unaware of the adverse events, it cannot make the decisions necessary to protect us. The disturbing and unfortunate reality of the situation is that only 3-4% of adverse events are reported by device manufacturers, and the more severe an event, the less likely it is to be reported. Thus, the whole idea of the FDA relying on a company to essentially “tell on itself” when something goes wrong with a device, when billions of dollars of profits are at stake, is not only counter intuitive, but a system that completely fails the American people.
Leaders in industry argue that to impose stricter regulations on how medical devices are approved, is to stifle innovation. However, as Bleeding Edge explains, the aim of regulation is not to stifle innovation, but to call real attention to the safety risks that these newer and “innovative” devices pose to patients. After all, innovation doesn’t necessarily mean better. It means “massive adoption of new technology with little evaluation of the outcomes”, or “putting untested devices on the market.”
HOW THE YOST LEGAL GROUP CAN HELP
For years the attorneys at The Yost Legal Group have litigated cases against device and drug manufacturers all in an effort to not only bring awareness to the same issues addressed by The Bleeding Edge, but to hold those same manufacturers accountable for the devastating injuries they have caused our clients. Presently, our firm is involved in the following litigations against various device and drug manufacturers.
- ESSURE PERMANENT BIRTH CONTROL: Currently investigating cases against Bayer, involving women who have had to have a hysterectomy following their implantation of the permanent birth control device, Essure.
- HERNIA MESH: Currently investigating claims against several manufacturers, including Johnson & Johnson, C.R. Bard, and Atrium Medical, on behalf of individuals having suffered serious complications from synthetic mesh implanted during hernia repair surgery.
- IVC BLOOD CLOT FILTERS: Currently investigating cases against device manufacturers, C. R. Bard, Cook Medical, and Cordis, involving individuals having suffered serious side effects, including death, following their implantation of an IVC blood clot filter.
- SMITH & NEPHEW HIPS: Currently investigating cases against Smith & Nephew, involving individuals who have had to have additional hip replacement surgeries following their implantation of the Birmingham Hip Resurfacing (BHR) System, or the R3 Acetabular System, both of which have multiple components made of cobalt chromium metal.
- STRYKER LFIT V40: Currently investigating claims against Stryker, on behalf of individuals who have had to have additional hip replacement surgeries following their implantation of the Stryker Rejuvenate Modular Primary Hip System, the AGB II Modular Hip System, or the LFIT V40 femoral head, all of which contain metal on metal components.
- MIRENA IUD: Currently investigating cases against Bayer involving women who have been diagnosed with intracranial hypertension following their implantation of the intrauterine device (“IUD”), Mirena.
- DIABETES MEDICATIONS (Januvia, Janumet, Tradjenta, Byetta, Victoza, Onglyza, etc.): Currently investigating claims against various manufacturers, on behalf of individuals having been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer following their use of medications belonging to a class of drugs known as incretins (Januvia, Janumet, Tradjenta, Byetta, Victoza, Onglyza, etc.), prescribed to treat type 2 diabetes.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a faulty medical device or defective drug, The Yost Legal Group may be able to help. Our team of experienced legal professionals is here to offer you free, individual consultation. We serve as the voice of our clients to hold Big Pharma accountable and obtain the justice each one so rightfully deserves. Call The Yost Legal Group (1-800-YOST-LAW) today. Let us be your voice.
Helping our loved ones transition to the next stage of their lives in a nursing home is difficult for every family. Unfortunately, getting them settled in and Medicare up-to-date isn’t the end of the road of moving into a nursing home.
A report published by the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee found that one in three nursing homes in the United States were cited for abuse that may be considered medical malpractice over a two year period.
Approximately 5,283 facilities received 9,000 individual citations from those who report nursing home abuse and medical malpractice. Crimes ranged from inadequate sanitation to malnutrition and dehydration to preventable accidents.
These violations weren’t the result of a bad day: they hurt residents and are illegal.
Your duty as a loved one of a person in a care home isn’t simply to visit: it’s also to report nursing home neglect or abuse in nursing homes that could potentially result in a legitimate medical malpractice case.
What Constitutes Nursing Home Abuse?
Just like elder abuse, nursing home abuse ranges across a broad range of behaviors and isn’t always detectable right away, particularly when the person being abused is suffering from memory issues related to dementia.
The most obvious signs of abuse are physical abuse, which can be committed by staff or other residents. Slapping, pinching, or allowing residents to fall are all types of violence.
Psychological abuse is also illegal. It includes shouting, shaming, or humiliating the patient.
Neglect makes up the bulk of many of the abuse citations, and it often isn’t malicious but the result of poor policies, training issues, or inadequate staffing. Like physical abuse, neglect takes a physical toll and is demonstrable.
Patients may also be sexually abused, which features sexual exploitation or unwanted attention either from a caregiver or another patient. Patients with dementia are particularly susceptible because they’re cognitively compromised.
What Are the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse?
The signs of abuse may manifest physically or in personality. It’s important to pay attention to behavioral changes over time to best determine whether they’re the result of disease or abuse.
Still, any suspicion should be reported. Unfortunately, elder abuse rarely begins and ends with a single patient in a facility.
Here are some of the symptoms:
- Bed sores
- Recurring infections
- Weight loss
- Emotional outbursts
- Poor hygiene
- Caregivers who hover when families visit
This list isn’t exhaustive, and some of the signs can be invisible, so it’s important to check in with your loved one regularly to notice more subtle signs of abuse.
How to Report a Nursing Home for Medical Malpractice
If you believe your loved one or someone else in the nursing home is being abused, then you should report it. Even if it’s not your family member or friend, it soon could be.
You have several reporting options. Start by contacting the U.S. Administration on Aging’s Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116. They’ll provide you more information on elder abuse laws in your state and explain the proper channels.
Another avenue to report nursing home abuse is via your family member’s primary care physician. In most cases, primary care physicians are required to report suspected abuse in nursing homes – failure to report may be medical malpractice.
If you suspect the damage is threatening the life or immediate wellbeing of your family member, call 911.
Be Your Elderly Loved One’s Advocate – Report Nursing Home Abuse
While some within the industry suggest that nursing home citations are over-reported because of high and changing standards – elder abuse exists. And it’s often a silent epidemic.
The best thing you can do for your loved one is to be there even after they transition into their new home and keep a sharp eye out for signs of abuse. You can ensure every older adult receives the dignity they deserve.
Undergoing medical procedures is hard and scary enough, let alone the fact that medical errors are probably the third leading cause of death in the United States.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a serious medical issue, then the expertise of medical professionals is something you dearly rely on.
When carelessness leads to a wrongful death, though, you might be the survivor left in the wake wondering what you should do.
If you’re wondering what exactly is a wrongful death suit or how one is begun, then we have some important information to get you on your way.
What is a Wrongful Death Suit?
It sounds simple: a death that shouldn’t have happened.
An important distinction between wrongful death cases and something like murder cases is that “wrongful death” falls under personal injury law.
“But how can someone’s death be considered injury?” you may be asking the screen.
A lawsuit like this is based on the negligence or misconduct of another. It’s not necessarily the same as with criminal cases like murder.
While a wrongful death lawsuit may come out in the aftermath of a criminal case, these types of suits tend to be associated with particular instances, such as:
- Medical malpractice
- Vehicular accidents
- Occupational hazards
- Death during a supervised activity
- and more
For example, if you or a loved one were to have died while flying on a plane, is it possible that the pilot was negligent in handling the aircraft? Therefore, would the plane company also be responsible for hiring the pilot in the first place? Even the fastest jets can be cause of death as well as the slowest.
If your child died while out on a field trip, is it the chaperone, teacher, or another supervisor who was negligent in watching out for and caring for your child? Could it even be the school itself?
Medical malpractice is another common instance. Mistakes happen. If you’re dealing with a very large hospital, it’s not unheard of that a nurse may give the wrong medication to a patient or a surgeon may receive the wrong information leading up to a surgery.
The point is, someone or something is very possibly responsible for the negligence that led to the death in the first place.
Who Can Make a Wrongful Death Claim?
These claims are made by someone who represents the estate of the one who died.
Who can initiate this claim, though, tends to be different from state to state.
In general, a parent can make a wrongful death claim of their child, a child can of their parents, and an individual can file for their spouse, but it gets trickier when you’re dealing with adults and their adult children or distant family.
Whether the people involved are related or not, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the individual can sue for the wrongful death.
It’s important to check your state’s statutes to understand who can make this kind of claim.
What Comes out of a Wrongful Death Suit?
Grieving for a loved one is consuming. You may need to consider or want to consider what could come out as a result of a wrongful death claim.
It’s important to understand what may have been lost by the death, such as:
- Lost wages
- Lost support
- Lost prospect of inheritance
- Medical expenses
- Funeral expenses
- and more
Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant and to discourage this type of behavior in the future. Whether or not you are entitled to punitive damages from suing for wrongful death is, again, based on your state.
Regardless, you may be entitled to some of these damages as a result, and whether or not you want to even think about it now, your future self and family may be happy that you did.
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Suit?
If you’re mourning the loss of a loved one, it may be difficult to even think about a timeframe.
Time is important in a case like this, though.
As with many claims, including personal injury claims, your state will have a statute of limitations devoted to how long after a wrongful death a claim may be made.
This can still depend on a number of factors, such as which state you are in, who you are claiming as the defendant, and when the death occurred.
How long you have may not necessarily start from when the death occurred, though.
For example, if you’re dealing with medical malpractice, the death of your loved one may have been declared natural. Some time down the line, new evidence may determine that medical malpractice was the real cause of death.
Specific situations like these can change the timeframe in which you have to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
How to File a Wrongful Death Suit
Based on your state’s statutes and the specific circumstances surrounding the death, you may find that you are eligible to file.
You may not even be the person benefiting from the suit, but you can still possibly file on behalf of them.
As with many cases, you have the right to represent yourself, but as clearly shown there are so many factors that determine whether or not you can even file in the first place.
Not only that but as the one making the wrongful death claim in the first place, the burden of proof falls on you alone.
Being a civil case, the burden of proof for a wrongful death suit is generally less than proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
It’s typically called “preponderance of the evidence” in this kind of case, which means the proposition being made is more likely to be true than not.
In general, hiring or at least consulting with a wrongful death lawyer, such as Chester Law Group, is strongly advised.
A quality lawyer will already know many of the factors leading up to your case, such as who can file, when you can file, and what will happen when you do file.
More Information on Wrongful Death Cases
Being the survivor of a wrongful death is hard enough.
There is a lot to consider, and your head may not be clear enough to even start the process. Hopefully, the information here gave you a step in the right direction.
If you have more questions or concerns about a wrongful death suit or want to know more legal advice and details, feel free to check out more on our blog.
The loss of any loved one is tragic. Whether it’s due to injury or sickness, death is often a catastrophe. Yet there’s a bitter irony when the cause of death comes from within the hospital, not from outside it.
We’d like to think that in the 21st century, medical error is disappearing. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case. In fact, according to a recent analysis published in the BMJ, one of the world’s leading medical publications, medical error is the third-leading cause of death in the United States. That’s why it’s important to understand just what medical error (also known as medical malpractice) is.
According to Martin A. Makary and Michael Daniel of the John Hopkins University School of Medicine, medical malpractice is “an unintended act or one that does not achieve its intended outcome.” This can be an error of planning, of execution, or an outright deviation from the proper medical process. In other words, medical malpractice can take many forms, and its effects can be trivial as well as severe.
To illustrate their point, they cite a case history that showcases the role of malpractice in a patient’s death:
A young woman left the hospital after a successful transplant operation, but she suffered from pain and was readmitted to the hospital. Doctors decided to run a variety of tests, many of which were unnecessary, to identify the problem. One of the tests was a pericardiocentesis, which samples fluid from space that surrounds the heart.
She was then released from the hospital and told to wait for the test results. A few days later, the unfortunate young woman checked into the hospital with a hemorrhage and cardiac arrest, and she passed away.
The autopsy showed that the syringe had peirced the skin during the pericardiocentesis slightly hitting the liver, which caused her death. Yet instead of listing the cause of her death as a medical error, the certificate simply blamed it on her cardiovascular system.
We know that medical error happens – after all, mistakes are unavoidable. But just how widespread is it? It’s difficult to identify the exact numbers, partly because “medical error” is never included on a death certificate – this would be too risky for doctors to admit. However, studies from the Harvard Medical School, the US Inspector General, and the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality calculate that anywhere from about 140,000 to 195,000 people die each year because of medical error. What’s more, these studies are likely understating the problem, because of the limited data available to researchers.
Yet even with those understatements, medical error ranks as one of the leading causes of death in this country. Until doctors start including information about medical error on death certificates, it’s up to ordinary patients, and ordinary citizens, to identify cases of malpractice. We need to understand that this problem affects all of us and that each patient must be aware of the possibility that medical malpractice is the true cause of death.
About attorney Scott Sandler:
Scott Sandler is an experienced trial lawyer representing personal injury victims for over 30 years. Founding attorney of The Law Office of Scott M. Sandler, Sandler’s dedicated and forceful approach has allowed him to obtain many multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements.
Visit http://www.scottsandlerlawoffice.com/firm-profile for more information
We’re somewhat conditioned to inherently trust and expect a certain level of care from medical professionals. In many instances, though, doctors, nurses and technicians alike remind us that they are all too human.
In a stunning report that sent shockwaves across the country, researchers with the John Hopkins University School of Medicine confirmed that medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States.
Of course, not every occurrence of medical malpractice will result in a wrongful death, but many will lead to life-altering conditions for the victim.
What is medical malpractice?
The legal definition for medical malpractice is harm or injury caused to a patient by negligence from a hospital, doctor other health care professional.
- Surgical errors
Data from the National Center for Health Statistics report that of the more than 234 million surgeries each year in the U.S., there are more than 4,000 preventable errors.
A study published in BMJ Quality & Safety confirmed that each year, about 12 million U.S. adults (1 of every 20 people) seeking medical care are misdiagnosed.
- Medication errors
The Institute of Medicine confirms that seemingly innocent mistakes with medication injure about 1.5 million people each year. Common mistakes with medicine include the wrong drug, the wrong dosage, and a bad combination with other drugs or an unanticipated bad reaction.
Do I have a medical malpractice case?
There are essentially four (4) components – each of which must be proven – that will determine whether or not you have a medical malpractice case.
- The existence of the doctor-patient relationship.
While easy to prove, this is necessary because it provides a starting point of an obligation of a “standard of care” in terms of expected medical treatment.
- The medical professional was negligent in providing care.
This component, often with the help of expert witnesses, should prove that the level of the provided care was less than what a reasonably competent professional would have given.
- Injuries suffered by the victim were caused directly by the negligence.
It’s not enough to prove that doctor, nurse or other medical professional was negligent; rather, you must prove that you were injured.
- Proof of the harm to the victim.
This can be in the form of independent physical examinations, proof of lost wages, medical bills incurred, etc.
What is medical negligence?
Medical negligence is but one component of a medical malpractice case. When a patient establishes a relationship with a doctor, it’s presumed that the patient is entitled to a standard level of care.
Medical negligence occurs when the health care professional fails to deliver that standard level of care.
Is medical malpractice a civil or criminal case?
It depends upon the individual aspects of the case involved. Cases that involve involuntary negligence are typically considered to be civil cases, and can be launched by a private party. In most civil cases, the punishment is typically in the form of monetary compensation.
If gross negligence – the conscious and voluntary disregard of providing reasonable care – is proven, the case will most likely be a criminal case, and brought by either the federal or state government. Punishment in criminal cases can involve imprisonment and monetary compensation.
How many medical malpractice lawsuits go to trial and how long do they take?
Statistics from the Harvard School of Public Health confirm that over 90% of medical malpractice cases are settled out of court. Among the numerous factors for this is that fact that cases that do proceed to court can often take years to resolve. In fact, another study from a Johns Hopkins affiliated hospital confirmed that the average wait time for a medical malpractice case to be resolved in court was 4.5 years.
Why should I settle my medical malpractice case?
Settling a medical malpractice case usually involves the defendant (hospital, doctor, nurse, etc.) and the plaintiff (victim) reaching an agreement to some or all of the plaintiff’s claims without taking their chances in court.
Among the benefits to settling a medical malpractice case out of court are:
- the victim receiving compensation faster to cover medical bills, lost wages and other expenses;
- avoiding the substantial expenses of going to court; and
- the privacy afforded in settlement agreements rather than the public record of a jury or judge decision.
What is the average for a medical malpractice settlement?
A study from the New England Journal of Medicine confirmed that the average compensation for a medical malpractice claim is $521,560.
How much is my medical malpractice case worth?
Because all cases are unique, it’s not possible to predetermine how much your case is worth. Your lawyer, however, will consider a number of things before determining what’s felt to be a reasonable amount, including:
- strength of the evidence;
- costs of medical bills and treatment you’ve already received, and the amount of treatment anticipated in the future;
- loss of earning potential; and
- physical pain and suffering.
Are medical malpractice settlements taxable?
Medical malpractice lawsuits are personal injury cases. Settlements and jury awards are intended to compensate you for things like medical bills, lost wages, loss of consortium (the loss of one’s emotional and physical support from a spouse or partner), emotional distress, pain and suffering and lawyer fees – and are considered to be tax-free.
However, the key is for your case to be based on the incurrence of an injury. If your settlement is based on emotional distress, for example, your settlement will be taxable income.
Do I need a lawyer to negotiate a settlement on my behalf?
Because medical law is an incredibly complex topic, the smart move is to leverage the skills and expertise of a medical malpractice lawyer, who will rely upon a thorough understanding of the law to determine whether or not a settlement is in your best interest.
If you or someone you love gets injured as a result of medical malpractice, it’s of the utmost importance you find an experienced and qualified attorney. Unfortunately, this process can be tough, especially if you’re dealing with medical bills and health issues.
Hiring a malpractice lawyer isn’t as easy as calling the first one that comes up in a Google search. There are many different types of malpractice. In addition, some attorneys specialize in certain types of injuries and malpractice suits, so it’s important you find the right one.
The internet is a great resource when looking for information about this sensitive legal issue. It’s also great for finding attorneys near you. But you still need to know what to look for.
To help you through this trying time, we’re discussing tactics to finding the best medical malpractice attorney for your case.
Let’s get started.
A personal referral is a great way to get in contact with a malpractice lawyer who’s right for your case. If you know someone who went through something similar, ask them who they used. An advantage here is you’re getting firsthand testimony regarding the experience they had with an attorney.
If you have a different type of attorney for other issues, or just know an attorney, ask them for a referral. Local attorneys and law firms form a tightly-knit network. If they don’t personally know a malpractice lawyer, they know someone who does.
A huge benefit of getting a referral from another attorney is they can listen to your situation and quickly understand who you need to work with. Even if they aren’t a malpractice lawyer, they will know enough to point you in the right direction.
Qualified Referral Services
A great resource for finding qualified attorneys is the state or local bar associations where you live. Most of them have referral services that connect individuals to the right lawyers. In fact, many attorneys list themselves on their bar association website.
Finding an attorney through a bar association gives you peace of mind that who you’re getting in touch with is qualified and trusted. Most bar associations require a certain amount of experience in the malpractice field in order to advertise with them.
There are also many online attorney referral services that connect individuals with attorneys or firms in their area. Many have a search mechanism that makes getting results easy.
Look at Online Reviews
Online reviews are now a huge factor in the decision-making process of web users seeking products and services. This applies to law firms and attorneys.
Taking a look at reviews and testimonials gives you an idea of both the type of success they’ve had in the past and the type of experience you’ll get. People like to let others know if something worked out well for them. A review could give you some insight into an attorney’s personality and how they operate.
Obviously, if you see consistent negative reviews from an attorney, it may be a good idea to avoid them. Pay special attention to anything related to appointment cancellations or unprofessional business practices.
However, keep in mind that some people are pretty harsh when they don’t get the outcome they want. They may lash out at an attorney just because they didn’t win their case. Make sure you look with an objective eye and understand that not every case works out for an attorney.
Pay Attention to Qualifications
This is one of the most important things to consider when looking for a malpractice lawyer. You need to pay close attention to an attorney’s experience and qualifications within the medical malpractice field.
Remember, just because a lawyer practices personal injury law doesn’t mean they’re fit to handle a malpractice case. This is a very specialized field, so you need someone who has handled cases similar to yours.
You also want to consider how many years they’ve been practicing and if they’ve devoted their entire career to malpractice. All of this information should be listed on their website or online profile.
A great thing to look for is blog articles on an attorney’s website. Many lawyers are now blogging and putting out great content that shows their expertise in a particular practice area.
Another very important thing to keep in mind is where an attorney operates. Use Google to filter attorneys practicing in your city. For example, search for “Atlanta medical malpractice lawyer” if you need qualified representation in the Atlanta area.
Other signs of qualified representation include participation in any malpractice or personal injury associations. Look for badges on their site for things like the American Trial Lawyers Association or The American Association for Justice. If an attorney is a member of these associations, they’ll have a badge on their website.
Consider the Cost
There’s a good chance you’re in a tough financial spot if you’re searching for a malpractice lawyer. You may have medical bills piling up and could even be out of work due to your injuries. You’ll need to ask any prospective lawyers about what the exact cost will be.
It’s also important you ask whether they work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you don’t pay the attorney anything unless the case results in a recovery. Many personal injury attorneys do this, so there’s a good chance you’ll pay nothing up front.
If a contingency fee is in place, the attorney gets paid a certain percentage of the recovery. You’ll need to discuss this percentage before hiring them.
Watch out for a someone who asks for a flat fee just to review your case. Some lawyers do this and end up making money off people without even taking their case.
Find the Perfect Malpractice Lawyer for You
Getting your life back on track is your top priority, so finding an attorney that has the experience and know-how to handle your case is imperative.
Doing a little homework and taking your time finding the right attorney could be the deciding factor in receiving the justice you deserve.
At Halt.org, we provide an extensive attorney directory to help you get in touch with the right lawyer in your area. Learn more today.
We are taught to trust our doctors. We believe they have our best interests at heart.
We put our faith in them. But sometimes, something goes wrong. Whether by accident or on purpose, we end up with more than we bargained for.
Perhaps we were accidentally burned during surgery. An unnecessary procedure was performed. A loved one dies because of a mistake.
It’s then that we need a lawyer. But not all lawyers are the same. You deserve the best.
Here are a few questions to ask when to hiring a great medical malpractice lawyer.
How Long They’ve Been Practicing
The same way an artist gets to Carnegie Hall is the same way a medical malpractice lawyer becomes good at their job. Practice, practice, practice.
Ask them how long they’ve been practicing medical malpractice law. Make sure they specialize in it as well.
Ask if medical practice law is their primary focus or if they also represent other types of cases. A lawyer who focuses on several types of law may not be as up-to-date on the current laws and procedures.
You deserve someone who has experience in medical malpractice. Someone who has been to court before and who understands how to win cases.
Check out their website to learn more about the lawyers within the firm. Don’t be afraid to ask them any further questions you may have about their experience.
How Many Cases They’ve Won
Ask how many cases the medical malpractice lawyer has won. Then ask how many of them were settled out of court.
These numbers are important to your case. You want someone who the experience and expertise to handle your case in your best interest.
Whether that’s taking the case to court or having the other side settle first. If they settle a lot of cases, insurance companies may know this and you might receive less money.
Don’t forget to ask how many cases they’ve lost, too. If a lawyer has been in business for 30 years and has won 200, that might sound great. Until you learn they’ve lost well over 500 cases.
Ask what the size of the rewards have been for their most recent cases. Definitely, ask the outcome of the last few cases they’ve worked on.
Any lawyer worth your time will be happy to share with you this type of information. You want someone who is successful and confident they can win your case.
If They’re in Good Standing with the Bar Association
Take a look at your local bar association’s website.Make sure they’re a member.
Check out other law associations like personal injury trial lawyers association.
See which associations they’re members of. Check to see if they have taken on any leadership roles.
That can suggest they have the respect of their peers. A medical malpractice lawyer should be in good standing with any and all associations they are members of.
If they are not listed anywhere, look somewhere else for another attorney.
If They Can Provide Testimonials and/or References
Of course, no medical malpractice lawyer is going to tell you that their last client hated their guts. It’s not in their best interest to do so.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t do some additional research. Ask for some references so you can speak to a few past clients.
Contact those past clients and ask how and why they found their medical malpractice lawyer so helpful. See if their clients would hire them again.
Obviously, they’ll give you the names of people who loved their services. Keep digging.
Check online reviews to see what other people are saying about the attorney or law firm in question. The Better Business Bureau is one place to check.
Keep in mind that if the firm lost the case or the outcome wasn’t to the client’s satisfaction, that person may have left an angry review.
Trust your instincts while reading testimonials and reviews. If your instincts are telling you to keep looking, do so.
Their Fees for Your Type of Case
Hiring a medical malpractice lawyer isn’t going to be cheap. Especially if they’re good and well experienced.
The lawyer should be able to clearly provide details on their fee agreements and case costs.
In most cases, you should have the ability to hire a lawyer on a contingency fee basis. This means, that they get paid a percentage of the money received through settlement.
If the case goes to trial, they would receive a portion of the money you win.
But there are always costs involved in any case. Ask to see if the law firm will absorb the expenses.
Most expenses come about when a case goes to trial. Expert witnesses are paid.
There’s also document preparation and filing fees. Depending on the nature of the case, there may be other costs involved.
Make sure you have a clear understanding of how any and all costs will be handled before you hire a lawyer.
Meet With the Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Even if you get a great feeling about a lawyer over the phone, it’s a good idea to meet with them in person before making a final decision.
If they can’t meet with you straight away, don’t consider it a bad sign. Sometimes, they just have a heavy caseload to contend with.
When you do meet with them, note how well you can communicate with them. If you speak another language, make sure they have someone there who can speak fluently in your native language.
Take a look at their office. The Marrone Law Firm offices, for instance, will look professional and be free of excessive clutter. While it might be fun to hire the oddball lawyer on a tv show, doing so in real life rarely works in your favor.
Make sure you’re confident about both the lawyer and their staff. This should be a team effort.
Let’s hope you only need to hire a medical malpractice attorney once in your life. But that doesn’t mean you won’t need another type of lawyer.
When and if you or someone you know needs to hire a lawyer, look no further than our site. We’ll help you find the best lawyer to represent you.
Our blog is here to help you make the best-informed decision you can before you hire any type of lawyer. Keep coming back to learn more.