Medical malpractice covers a range of negligent behavior by medical professionals. To be classified as medical malpractice the action or inaction taken by the health care provider must depart from accepted standards of care and directly cause harm to the patient. Some examples of medical malpractice include surgical errors, failure to treat, misdiagnosis, prescription drug errors and failure to order tests.
Each state and type of medical malpractice will have its own burden of proof but generally a claimant must show the following:
Medical malpractice cases are very complicated and come with time consuming work to put together a winning case. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer will know the laws in your state and have contacts with medical experts who can identify whether the duty of care was breached. The medical malpractice attorney and his legal team will gather relevant documents, interview and retain expert witnesses and handle pre-trial litigation and the trial (if necessary).
Because of the complexity of medical malpractice cases they often take longer to resolve than other types of personal injury lawsuits. The length of each case varies, however; some medical malpractice cases are resolved before a formal lawsuit is filed, many cases are settled during pre-trial litigation and some go to trial.
Most personal injury law firms take medical malpractice cases on a contingency basis which means that the client is represented without any up-front fees. An arrangement is made so the attorney will receive a percentage of any damages awarded to the client whether through a negotiated settlement or jury award. Ask your attorney for the specific percentages that will be subtracted for payment of attorney fees.
Each case will be worth a different amount depending on the severity of the injuries and corresponding medical expenses, etc.; a medical malpractice lawyer will assess your situation and identify a monetary range for damages. Medical malpractice damages will generally cover economic damages such as medical expenses, lost wages and any past, present or future financial losses that you have incurred or will incur as a result of the malpractice. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and/or companionship. There is no cap on damages in WA State although punitive damages are not generally allowed.
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