Medical Malpractice FAQs
If you are considering bringing a medical malpractice lawsuit to court, you undoubtedly have a lot of questions about the process and what you can expect. The answers below are a starting point for your research. It’s important to know, however, that personal injury and wrongful death claims are fact-specific.
The best way to understand if you have a good case is to talk with an experienced attorney, someone who has handled your type of medical negligence claim before.
The medical malpractice lawyers at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P., have extensive experience with claims involving hospital negligence, doctor and anesthesiologist negligence, pharmacy negligence and nursing home negligence. You can talk with a lawyer at no cost. Contact us at our San Jose office or call (408) 289-1417 to schedule a free initial consultation with a knowledgeable medical malpractice online attorney.Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Negligence
- What is Medical Negligence?
- How do I Know if What Happened to me was Medical Malpractice?
- How do I know if I Have a Good Case?
- Who is Being Sued, the Doctor or the Hospital?
- I signed a consent form. Does that mean I can’t bring a lawsuit?
- How do I Start a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
- How Soon do I Have to Bring my Case? Is There a Statute of Limitations?
- How Much is my Medical Malpractice Case Worth?
- How Much Will it Cost?
- How Long Will it Take to Recover Compensation?
- Why is it Important to Hire a Medical Malpractice Attorney With Trial Experience?
Negligence occurs when a medical professional fails to provide a patient with the standard of care that other competent, reasonable medical professionals would have provided in the same situation. This can mean that the medical provider did something wrong or that he or she failed to do something. To understand what the standard of care should have been, one or more medical professionals will usually be involved in a medical malpractice case to review the medical record and offer an expert opinion.
Often, people do not seek a lawyer right away because they feel uncertain about what has happened. Medical care is so complicated; we depend upon our doctors to help us make the right decision. And we know that even when everything is done right, the results may not be favorable.
That said, if you suspect that mistakes were made in your medical treatment, talk with a lawyer to get a professional opinion. It’s impossible to know for certain if medical negligence occurred until there has been a thorough review of your medical record by qualified medical experts, but an experienced medical malpractice attorney can usually tell from speaking with a patient or patient’s family if an error occurred. After the initial interview, if our lawyer believes medical malpractice may have occurred, we will secure a competent medical professional to review your record.
Your attorney will consider several things when assessing whether you have a good medical malpractice case – one that could result in financial compensation for you and your family.
- What person or entity owed you a duty of care as a patient? This will inform the decision of who to include in any lawsuit resulting from a breach of care.
- What was the negligent action? Did it breach the standards of medical care provided in your community? (All medical providers are not held to the same standard.)
- Did that negligent action cause injury or allow an illness to worsen because proper treatment was delayed? In other words, was the medical provider actually at fault or would the damage have occurred anyway because of your medical condition?
- Did you (or a loved one) suffer significant and/or lasting harm?
- What were your financial losses? Will there continue to be costs associated with this injury?
The answer to this question will depend entirely upon the facts of your case and whose negligence caused your injury. Most doctors are not employees of the hospitals where they have medical privileges, so it may be that the doctor was responsible, but the hospital wasn’t. On the other hand, sometimes medical mistakes are the result of failures in the operations of the hospital. Making poor hiring decisions, failing to institute safety systems, failing to properly supervise employees – these are examples of hospital negligence.
Of course, it’s not only doctors who make mistakes. Nurses and on-site pharmacists are employees of the hospital and their errors, such as medication errors, can be equally serious. Off-site pharmacists and pharmacies will carry their own liability insurance.
A conscious patient must consent to medical treatment. A health care provider must provide the patient with accurate information to allow the patient to give informed consent. This means the provider must tell the patient about his or her medical diagnosis, about the proposed treatment and its risks, about alternative treatments and their associated risks, and the risks of receiving no treatment. If you were incorrectly diagnosed or if you were not fully informed of your treatment options and the potential risks, that calls into question your ability to give informed consent (even though you signed a form).
You also have to prove that if you had this information before, you would not have chosen the treatment. If your case goes to a jury, the jury will consider what a “reasonable” person would have done when presented with the same options. If the risks of treatment were low and most people would see treatment as being necessary, the jury may decide that a reasonable person would have taken action, even though it ultimately had a bad result.
Once you retain our law firm, we will handle everything for you – from filing the lawsuit and obtaining your medical records to securing medical experts and preparing your case for trial.
There is a time limit for filing a medical negligence lawsuit. The clock starts to run on the date of the injury or the date the injury was discovered. Your attorney can explain how the statute of limitations applies in your case.
It’s important to contact a lawyer as soon as you suspect that you may have been the victim of medical malpractice. It takes time to evaluate and investigate a case to determine if it has merit. This must be done before a lawsuit can be filed.
The amount you can recover depends upon the nature of your injuries and the effect those injuries will have on your life. You can recover economic damages as well as “general” damages (pain and suffering, emotional distress and loss of companionship). In California, there is a cap on general damages under the California Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) of 1975. The most an injured person can receive for general damages is $250,000. There is no cap on economic damages.
Your attorney will work with medical experts and possibly a life care planner to determine the full extent of your losses and to place a monetary value on those losses.
Medical malpractice cases are complex and expensive – far more expensive than most people can afford, which is why medical malpractice attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. The law firm of Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P., will pay the expenses of the case while it is in process. These costs are then paid back at the end of the case as a percentage of the final award. You and your attorney will agree upon a percentage when you retain our firm.
The time it takes to resolve a medical malpractice case is highly variable. It may be mediated or settled in less than a year or it may take several years. Unfortunately, there are things beyond the control of your lawyer that can cause delays. What we can assure you is that our firm will do everything in our power to avoid unnecessary delays.
There are several reasons to work with a law firm and an attorney experienced specifically in the area of medical negligence. At Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, our medical malpractice attorneys:
- Understand the complex medical facts that your case presents. It’s likely we’ve handled a case like yours in the past.
- Have access to a wide range of medical experts.
- Have the resources to expend in bringing your case to trial, if need be.
- Know how to present complex information to a jury and what it takes to prepare for the rigors of trial.
- Understand what your case is worth and we will not settle for less than you need. We work with your best interest in mind.
Contact the medical malpractice attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. to discuss your case. Call us in San Jose at (408) 289-1417.