Medical malpractice is a complex area of law. Certain factors must be present, and even one missing could mean your case is invalid. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced injury attorney by your side if you are planning on filing a medical malpractice suit. Here are 8 things you need to know about filing a suit in New York:
1. The two main factors in medical malpractice are negligence and injury.
When you visit a doctor or go to a hospital, there is a standard of care medical professionals are expected to uphold. This includes giving proper treatment for your condition in a timely manner. If they do not do so, you may have a case.
However, simply proving negligence is usually not enough. You must prove that injury or damage happened to to the breach of standard of care. For instance, receiving ibuprofen instead of acetaminophen for a fever may not warrant medical malpractice, but having the wrong kidney operated on would.
2. New York has its own statute of limitations for medical malpractice.
According to New York statute 214, you have two years and six months from the time of injury, or from the end of treatment, to file a suit. In some cases, the “discovery rule” applies. In these instances, you have two and a half years from the time you discover the injury to file a suit. An injury attorney can explain this in better detail.
3. Nurses can also be guilty of medical malpractice.
Anyone who has ever been to a hospital knows that nurses really run the show. They are the ones constantly visiting patients to make sure they are okay. This can cause a lot of stress for the nursing staff, especially considering so many hospitals are understaffed. The same qualifications must be met in order to have a medical malpractice case against the nursing staff: negligence causing damage.
4. Different parties may be held liable for medical malpractice.
If you are being treated at a hospital, the institute itself will likely be held liable for any malpractice. If a hospital employee causes injury, the hospital could be held vicariously responsible. This is due to a doctrine called “respondeat superior.” The hospital may also be liable if they hire a staff who is not properly trained and licensed.
If the doctor works in the hospital as a contractor (such as a specialist), the doctor himself would be held liable. In the same way, a private physician would be held liable if she goes against the advice of the hospital and it causes damage to her patient. Finally, if a pharmaceutical company does not inform a doctor about side effects for a drug, and said drug causes damage, the pharmaceutical company can be held liable.
5. The most common type of medical malpractice is…
Diagnostic errors. This means doctors state the wrong cause for symptoms and treat the wrong diagnosis. While this may not be too big of an issue in some cases, such as treating a sinus infection instead of a flu, it can cause serious issues — including the patient’s death. A reported 80,000 to 160,000 patients are permanently disabled each year due to diagnostic errors.
These errors fall into two different categories: misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose/late diagnosis. Failures to diagnose, or missed diagnoses, are the most common form of error. Often, this is due to the fact that a symptom like chest pain could mean anything from a tight muscle to cardiovascular issues. As such, it’s sometimes difficult to pinpoint a single issue.
6. Before you file the suit, you may want to call your doctor.
Call your physician and let them know the problem. Sometimes they will perform services free of charge in order to remedy the situation. Malpractice cases can be long, and if the situation can be fixed before it gets that far, that may be your best bet. If your doctor does not fix the issue, contact the New York medical licensing board and other medical professionals to see if you have a case. This may be crucial to your case.
7. You don’t always have to go to court.
As we mentioned before, medical malpractice cases are often a long process. Many times, the liable party will offer an out-of-court settlement. Insurance companies don’t want to go to court, and you probably don’t, either — they can be very expensive. A settlement allows you to go on with your life quickly. However, there are some cases in which going to court would be more prudent, which leads us to our next point.
8. Before you do anything, talk to an attorney.
If you do not have a strong case, a settlement is often the best option. Going to court could mean losing. But if you know your case is solid, a court case could lead to a much larger sum. The best way to know which option to take is to speak to an attorney. An experienced personal injury lawyer will have seen these kinds of cases many times before and know how they tend to end.
If you believe you have suffered from medical malpractice, don’t wait. Give us a call today. Your initial consultation is free. During that call, we will discuss the details of your case and recommend further legal action.