When we go to the doctor, be it for a routine check-up or for major surgery, we expect that we will be well taken care of. Unfortunately, medical malpractice is a real problem. In fact, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the United States. All told, an estimated 200,000 Americans die each year as a result of medical negligence. Countless others suffer serious injury or permanent disability.
What is medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice can take many different forms. Some of the most common types of medical malpractice involve surgical errors, medication errors and missed or erroneous diagnoses.
However, medical malpractice involves more than a mere mistake. In order to prevail in a medical malpractice lawsuit, injured patients must show that their medical provider violated the applicable standard of care. Essentially, they must prove that their medical provider acted contrary to what a reasonably prudent medical provider would have done in the same or similar circumstances.
In addition, patients must show that they were injured as a result of their medical provider’s negligence.
Working with an experienced attorney
California law allows medical malpractice victims to bring personal injury lawsuits against the medical provider who caused their injury. When medical negligence results in death, the victim’s family can pursue a lawsuit for wrongful death.
Individuals who think they or a loved one might have been the victim of medical negligence should consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. California law imposes strict time limits for filing medical malpractice lawsuits, and it is often necessary to do a significant amount of research and investigation before a lawsuit can be filed.
After the initial meeting, the attorney will review the victim’s medical records and consult with expert witnesses to determine whether there is significant proof of negligence and injury. If so, the attorney will work with the victim to proceed with the lawsuit.
California medical malpractice damages
Plaintiffs who win their medical malpractice lawsuits can recover compensation for both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include past and projected future financial losses for things like medical care, lost wages and loss of earning capacity. The plaintiff’s attorney will work with expert witnesses to prove the actual value of these losses to the jury.
Non-economic damages provide compensation for less quantifiable losses like pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. Currently, California law caps non-economic damages at $250,000. However, in the 2014 election, voters may be asked to consider a ballot initiative that would repeal the cap and allow juries to determine non-economic damages.