If you are native to Spokane, you may have spent much of your life enjoying the great outdoors. You may have even worked hard to stay in shape by regularly walking, jogging, or biking through the 37 miles of Centennial Trail. But even fitness buffs are at the mercy of the medical community when tragedy strikes. And when a doctor or nurse makes a mistake, your healthy lifestyle can come to naught in an instant.
When a medical professional makes a mistake that changes the course of your physical existence, it is costly – to you and your family. And if that should happen to you or a loved one, you not only deserve but will actually need monetary compensation to help put your life back together.
What Exactly Is Medical Malpractice?
This is an important question. Sometimes people think that dissatisfaction with the outcome of a certain medical procedure can form the basis of a lawsuit, but that is not typically true. According to the American Bar Association:
“Medical malpractice is negligence committed by a professional health care provider—a doctor, nurse, dentist, technician, hospital or hospital worker—whose performance of duties departs from a standard of practice of those with similar training and experience, resulting in harm to a patient or patients.”
Since negligence is a critical part of every medical malpractice case, let’s take a brief look at what is needed to prove negligence.
To prove negligence, you have to first prove that the defendant had a duty to the plaintiff. When a doctor or health care provider is involved, there is certainly a professional duty of care that is commensurate with the training received by the caregiver.
Breach of Duty
Within each specialty, there are “standards of practice” that must be followed. Doctors are extensively trained in procedures and protocols for many types of disease, and it is very important that they follow the prescribed methodology when caring for patients. Generally speaking, breach of duty can be found if the actions of the doctor or medical professional fall outside of the standards of care required from a professional of equal training.
This element of negligence in its simplest form means that the harm done to a patient can be traced to the actions of the doctor or medical professional. In other words, there must be enough evidence to prove that any negligent act actually caused the patient harm.
Finally, there must be actual damages to recover for medical malpractice. If medical personnel made a mistake but no damage or harm resulted, then you cannot recover for medical malpractice.
What Should I Know about Malpractice Cases in Washington?
There are some things to keep in mind as you contemplate your case. In Washington:
- You have three years after the malpractice occurred, or one year after discovering the injury (if it was delayed discovery) to file a medical malpractice claim.
- Unlike some other states, Washington has decided that it is unconstitutional to place a cap on damages in medical malpractice cases.
- In an effort to resolve these cases without judicial intervention, it is mandatory that parties to the action participate in mediation. This does not hamper or impede your access to a jury trial should you choose to go that route, but it is a statutory step that must be taken.
What Types of Damages Can I Recover?
If you or someone you love has been injured by the negligence of a medical professional, you may be able to recover certain types of damages. Never make the assumption that you “don’t have a case” before speaking with a professional here at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, PLLC. Doctors work hard to cover up and deny negligent mistakes, but we can help you uncover the truth and get you the money that you need to help you put your life back together. Some damages that can be recovered are:
- Any and all medical expenses related to the injury, including doctors bills, hospital bills, ambulance charges, medical equipment costs, prescription medications, and therapy fees.
- If you lost work, or even lose your job due to the injury, you can recover for lost wages both past, present, and future. It may take some work to determine the proper amounts, particularly when trying to assess future losses, but this is where the expertise of your lawyer is critical.
- Pain and suffering.
Contact Us Today
If you believe that you may be a victim of medical malpractice, don’t talk yourself out of taking your next steps. Don’t assume that you have no case until you speak with a lawyer from Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, PLLC. We are happy to sit down with you, take a look at your case, and help you determine what your next steps should be. So call us today or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free, confidential case consultation.