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Understanding Medical Negligence Law in Oklahoma | Clark Mitchell
Medical negligence or medical malpractice occurs when a medical care provider provides treatment to the patient that is below or against the acceptable standard of care for a medical condition. Negligence does not occur when a patient does not achieve the desired results they wanted from a medical treatment.
Examples of medical malpractice would include:
- Failure to treat an obvious medical condition
- Incorrectly treating a medical condition
- Failure to diagnose or mistaken diagnosis
- Issuing wrong medications
- Surgical errors
- Birth injuries to mother or infant
Other conditions may fall under the negligence category. If you believe that you have been harmed by a medical care provider it is important to speak to OKC medical malpractice attorneys as soon as possible after the injury occurred.
Understanding The Statute of Limitations
The Statute of Limitations is a set of laws that are meant to protect all parties involved in a legal action. By limiting the amount of time that a case can be filed helps ensure that evidence is protected, that witnesses are available, and that memories are fresh about the event in question.
The Statute of Limitations for a medical malpractice suit in Oklahoma is two years from the date of the event for adults. This means that you have two years from when the malpractice happened, not when you discovered the problem, to file a case.
For minors under the age of 12 Oklahoma law allows them seven years from the date of the event, or age 19, to file a claim. If the child is 12 or older, the parents have until the child has reached the age of 19 to file a claim.
If you fail to file a lawsuit before the Statute of Limitations has run out you will not be able to seek damages for your injuries.
Filing A Medical Negligence Lawsuit In Oklahoma
Oklahoma has made very strict guidelines for medical malpractice lawsuits. Anyone who believes that they have been injured by a medical care provider will need to speak with OKC medical malpractice attorneys about their case to ensure that their injury qualifies under these guidelines.
The Court will require that the attorney for the injured party consult an expert medical witness about the case prior to filing the lawsuit. This medical expert must review the medical files and the resulting injury information to determine if it was in fact caused by negligence. Only when the medical expert has found that the injury was caused by negligence can the lawsuit be filed.
When the attorney files the initial Complaint with the court they must also file an Affidavit from the expert witness stating that this case is considered medical negligence. Without this Affidavit, the court will reject the case without prejudice. The case can be filed again within 90 days if an Affidavit is obtained at that time.
Caps On Claims For Medical Malpractice
Like several other states, Oklahoma has enacted laws that place caps on the amount of money that can be recovered for non-economic damages in a medical malpractice suit. Most lawsuits provide economic and non-economic damages to the injured party. In some cases, they will also receive punitive damages.
Economic damages include the following:
- Cost of past and future medical care for the injury
- Loss of income as a result of the injury
- Loss of benefits as a result of the injury
- Loss of retirement contributions as a result of the injury
- Cost of services related to the injury
Some additional costs may fall within this guideline. Your attorney will explain to you exactly what types of economic damages they are seeking from the negligent party.
Non-economic damages are generally considered to be damages for Pain and Suffering. The State of Oklahoma has limited this amount to $350,000 per incidence. The only exceptions to this financial cap include:
- Wrongful death
- Fraudulent actions
- Gross negligence
- Reckless disregard for the rights of the patient
- Malice or intent to harm
If the court finds it true that any of these acts occurred, they can also impose punitive damages.
Punitive damages are a type of damage that the Court uses to “punish” people financially for their actions. Under Oklahoma law, punitive damages are generally capped at $100,000 but can go up to $500,000 if it is found that the actions were exceptionally malice.
Why It Is Very Important For You To Seek Damages For Medical Malpractice
The moment that you were injured by the negligent actions of a medical care provider your life was changed. You are now facing a different future, and it was not by your own choice. Many of these injuries impact your life physically, emotionally and financially. It is only right that the person responsible for this change help you recover from your losses.
The negligence may have led to physical discomforts or changes that you must face for the rest of your life. You may now have to do everything differently, including work. The injury may have even caused you to lose your ability to do your current job or maintain your current profession. All of this impacts your life.
You may have to make changes to your home, to your transportation or surrender your driving privileges because of this injury. You may even have to hire someone to provide you with care.
You should not have to suffer from all of these issues that have occurred for no fault of your own.
If you have been injured in any way by a medical care provider, it is important that you seek out help from an Oklahoma City medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights as a victim of this event.
Your attorney will make sure that you are receiving the right care to correct the problem and file a lawsuit on your behalf for damages that you have experienced as a result of this event. Your attorney will be there to handle all of the legal aspects of your case which will allow you to focus on your recovery.