04/04/2019 0 Comments
Medical Malpractice – When Is It Time to Get a Lawyer?
If you or a family member has been injured after a medical procedure, you may wish to speak to a lawyer to obtain a consultation.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
A medical malpractice claim may occur if an error or negligence caused by one or more medical professionals results in injury or death. Medical professionals can be doctors, nurses, hospital employees, dentists or other professionals.
Medical malpractice usually deals with substandard care, which can occur in a variety of ways. A medical malpractice claim can be brought if you were not adequately informed of risks, if there was an error in the medical treatment, or if care was otherwise not up to a reasonable standard.
Proving a medical malpractice claim can be difficult, as medical professionals are expected to use their “best judgement” when treating patients. However, if you can prove that your injuries are the direct result of substandard medical care, or negligence, you may be entitled to financial compensation in the form of damages.
What Is the “Threshold for Medical Malpractice”?
In order to establish if you have a medical malpractice claim, you need to demonstrate that the standard of care was breached by the medical professional. Additionally, you must prove that this breach of the standard of care led to your injury.
What Is Negligence?
Negligence refers to actions which fall below a reasonable standard of care in a given situation. Medical professionals are held to a higher standard than an ordinary person, as they are practicing as experts in their field. Medical professionals owe their patients a particular level of skill, care, and knowledge. This standard is considered to be consistent across the profession. In other words, the standard of care is set by similar professionals in similar situations. If the actions of a medical professional fall below this standard, they may be found negligent.
What Are Damages?
Damages are monetary compensation for injuries or adverse effects that you may have suffered as a result of a medical procedure. Damages can be claimed for actual financial loss you have experienced as a result of the injury. For example, if you are forced to purchase specialized equipment to accommodate your injury, you may be able to claim the costs of this as damages. Damages can also be claimed for items which did not directly entail out of pocket expenses, such as non-pecuniary damages (e.g., for pain and suffering).
What Are Types of Malpractice Claims?
Typically, when we think of medical malpractice cases, we tend to think of cases which involve surgical errors, such as operating on the wrong hand or foot. However, surgical errors are only one type of medical malpractice case. Medical malpractice claims can vary greatly and be based on a wide variety of factors.
For example, in Lewis v. Plaskos, 2018 ONSC 6058 (CanLII), the medical malpractice case arose out of a failure of a physician in the hospital emergency department to order an MRI when the patient arrived in great pain, having collapsed that morning. The plaintiff contended that, because of the doctor’s failure to request an MRI, her outcome was significantly worse. The plaintiff ended up getting an MRI, but not until 48 hours later, when she was transferred to another hospital. A neurosurgeon advised that removing the lesion compressing her spinal cord would offer very little improvement because the paraplegia had already persisted for more than 48 hours.
Other types of medical malpractice claims include:
- Medication errors
- Childbirth injuries
- Missed or delayed diagnosis
- Anesthesia errors
- Medical equipment issues
Moving Forward With Your Medical Malpractice Case
Navigating the path forward in a medical malpractice case can be highly complicated. There are plenty of factors to consider about malpractice claims in general, as well as specific complicating factors from your case. If you believe you may have a medical malpractice claim, you may wish to consult with a personal injury lawyer. Once hired, your lawyer can assist with all aspects of your case and may be able to advise you on how to strengthen your case, including by paying close attention to the following:
• Collecting Evidence
A personal injury lawyer can help you gather evidence for your case by speaking to medical professionals, obtaining expert opinions, organizing timelines, or obtaining medical documents. A personal injury lawyer can evaluate the evidence you have and help determine if you have a case with merit.
• Filing a Claim
Following a review of the evidence, a personal injury lawyer will be able to give his/her opinion on whether you have a legal claim. After determining whether you have a malpractice case, a personal injury lawyer can bring action against the medical professional who caused your injury.
• Limitation Period
A medical malpractice claim has a strict limitation period. This means that a claim may only be filed up to two years after the injured person becomes aware of the conditions which led to their injuries. A limitation period can be extended beyond two years in very limited situations, but this is not the norm.
Liu v. Wong, 2016 ONCA 366 (CanLII) is a case where the plaintiff suffered permanent injury to his knee from the improper removal of 19 surgical staples, one of which broke in the process and caused much pain and bleeding. Unfortunately, the plaintiff did not bring his case within the limitation period and was denied any damages. Consulting with a personal injury lawyer early can help you avoid running out of time and give you clarity on when you should begin a malpractice claim.
Contact Our Lawyers About Medical Malpractice
At Tamming Law in Owen Sound, our lawyers are equipped to deal with a wide variety of medical malpractice claims. Our team has 30 years of combined experience providing legal services. We can help you determine if you have a medical malpractice case and whether you may be entitled to compensation. Contact us today at 1-888-945-5783.