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Medical Malpractice Cases and How They Work
Medical Malpractice Cases and How They Work
What is medical malpractice? Malpractice occurs when a medical caregiver deviates from the professional norms in treating or diagnosing a patient. This means that the medical professional does something other than what another professional would do in the same situation.
This can include things like refusal to treat a condition, misdiagnosis or a failure to diagnose, problems during labor and delivery, a botched procedure, issues with prescriptions, etc. Sometimes these issues are caused by negligence or are a mistake, or in extreme cases, they can be due to malice or an intent to harm a patient.
What should you do if you think you’ve been a victim of malpractice?
If you are a resident of the state of Oklahoma, your first step should be to consult with an Oklahoma Personal Injury Attorney. A personal injury attorney can examine the details of your case and get a good estimate of whether you should seek damages or not. From there, they can begin the process of filing the claim.
There are some helpful first steps you can follow to facilitate the process. First of all, you should try speaking with the medical professional themselves. They may be able to answer questions such as how the injury occurred, what their thought process behind the procedure that caused it, and in some cases, they can facilitate contact between you and their malpractice insurance provider.
The next step is to speak with the provider of the medical professional’s insurance. All medical practitioners are required to carry malpractice insurance, as mistakes can happen to anyone. Sometimes the insurance is purchased by them, other times it is provided by the institution (such as a hospital or medical center) that they are employed by. If the practitioner cannot give you their insurance information, you can go to the heads of the institution to find out who to contact. You should always notify your personal injury attorney of any such contact, try to have them be involved in the conversation, and always consult with them before signing any paperwork or accepting any settlements. It is the job of the insurance company to pay out as little money as possible to keep you from filing a suit. Sometimes they will offer a fair amount when compared to the time, cost, and insecurity of going to trial, but this isn’t always the case. Your attorney can weigh the offered settlement versus what you can expect from a trial and advise you on which option would be best for you.
If you can’t get anywhere with the insurance company, you can contact your state’s licensing board that governs the medical license of the professional who committed the malpractice. These boards not only give out medical licenses, but they govern the field, with the ability to dole out punishments for professional misbehavior, such as limits on the practitioner’s ability to perform their occupation, fines, suspension and even removal of their license. No medical professional is allowed to practice without a license.
The licensing board can, therefore, put pressure on the medical profession and insurance company to settle the matter quickly and quietly to avoid punishment by the board. If the malpractice is particularly egregious, they will administer punishment regardless of compensation to the victim.
If none of these avenues provide compensation or relief for your injuries, then you will have to file a civil suit. If you haven’t done so already, hire an Oklahoma Personal Injury Attorney. Your attorney can get your suit filed and take care of every detail of the paperwork, secure professional witnesses, and make sure you get the best outcome possible for your case.
Time is of the essence!
Every civil matter has a statute of limitations that governs how long a plaintiff has to file a case. In most cases, the clock begins on the date the injury occurred. In some cases, the statute can be pushed up to the date that the injury was noticed, if it took time to become apparent, but this is rare and at the discretion of the judge.
The statute of limitations varies from state to state. In Oklahoma, you have two years to file a suit, or seven years if the injured party is a minor under the age of twelve. It is definitely not in your best interest to wait on filing suit, as time runs out quickly.
Limits on compensation
Each jurisdiction or state has its own limits on how much a plaintiff can be awarded in a medical malpractice case. Limits are separated into economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are those incurred through medical costs, loss of income, legal fees, and anything that costs the injured party money stemming from the injury itself, including future medical treatment. The plaintiff has a right to compensation for any money they have spent or lost because of the injury. In Oklahoma, there is no cap on a number of economic damages they can receive.
Non-economic damages are those awarded by the judge based on pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, and punitive damages against the practitioner. If the judge feels the practitioner acted out of malice or intended to cause harm, they may award punitive damages to the plaintiff. In the state of Oklahoma, non-economic damages are limited to $350,000.
Payment of damages
There are several different ways that damages won in a malpractice suit can be paid out. In most states, it is at the discretion of the judge, although there are some guidelines. If it is mostly economic damages, and the plaintiff has already lost or paid out the money, they may be awarded a lump sum disbursement, which means the payee, usually, the insurance company, has to pay all of the damages up front, at once. Non-economic damages can sometimes be awarded in smaller disbursements over time. In the case of minors, payments are usually paid in small increments at a time until they become adults when they will get what’s left all at once.
Have you been injured?
If you’ve been injured at the hands of a medical professional, contact an Oklahoma Personal Injury Attorney today, before you take any further steps. An attorney can advise you on whether or not you could have a case, the best way to proceed, and make sure you get fair compensation for your injury. They can advise whether to settle out of court, whether the offer from the other party is reasonable, and what you can expect from taking it to court.