Medical malpractice is widespread in the United States. Michigan is no exception and sees many cases every year. Below are several important things to know about medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice accounts for the third-largest cause of death in the US with 200,000 to 400,000 individuals dying because of medical errors annually. Ten to 20 times that many people are seriously injured, but don’t die from such errors. In the past 25 years, under two percent of physicians have been responsible for medical malpractice claims.
Medical malpractice means that a doctor or other individual in healthcare has breached the standard level of care. It means something unreasonable was done by that professional and that another doctor would not have taken the same action under similar circumstances.
Medical malpractice is a type of negligence at the hands of a doctor or other healthcare professional. A patient can experience a bad outcome or negative side effect following medical care, but this does not necessarily mean that medical malpractice occurred.
Time Limits for Claims
There is a time limit for bringing forth a medical malpractice claim known as the statute of limitations. The Michigan statute of limitations for personal injury cases is just two years. A medical malpractice case may be filed within two years of the incident that led to the claim, not two years after the victim discovered his injuries.
Types and Frequencies of Medical Errors
One in three patients experiences medical errors during a hospital stay. Medical negligence can happen at any time when healthcare providers during medical care, including before diagnosis, during treatment, or after another procedure.
Some types of malpractice are more common than others, such as diagnostic or medication errors. A diagnostic error means an illness was misdiagnosed or not diagnosed in time.
Who Pays for These Errors?
A good medical malpractice attorney generally takes cases on a contingency fee basis. The goal is to hold the responsible party accountable for wrongdoing. In medical malpractice cases, it is the healthcare provider who should pay for damages. Attorney expenses go toward obtaining medical records, hiring medical experts to testify, lodging, and depositions. These fees can easily reach several thousands of dollars.
How Is Medical Malpractice Proven in Court?
Attorneys meet with medical experts who review all medical records of the plaintiff to determine whether the doctor’s actions were appropriate. The experts generally work in the same field as the defendant physician. The defendant doctor also has medical experts who determine if the care was appropriate. Experts from both sides testify in court for the judge or jury to hear.
The plaintiff has the burden of proof, meaning he must prove the doctor caused him harm or injury. The burden of proof in a medical malpractice case is called the preponderance of evidence, which means something is slightly more likely to be true than false.
A judge or jury eventually decides whether a doctor committed malpractice. Judges rule in bench trials while juries make decisions in jury trials. Medical malpractice trials take anywhere from a few days to weeks depending on the circumstances. Overall, malpractice cases can take months or even years depending on the complexities of the case. Only attorneys are involved daily in cases, but they regularly contact their clients on the case’s progress.
Can a Patient Be Found Negligent?
A patient can be found negligent if they failed to follow reasonable recommendations from a doctor. In cases where both the patient and the healthcare professional were negligent, the outcome would depend on the state’s specific laws addressing negligence.
What Happens Post-Trial?
Post-trial, either party can decide to appeal. Malpractice cases can be appealed by either party, but the appeals must be based on a judge’s error. Or, alternatively, the defendant can pay the plaintiff, or the parties can agree to settle for less compensation outside of court.
What Can Patients Do to Lessen Likelihood of Malpractice?
Patients must be proactive about their healthcare and learn about their conditions and how best they’re treated. Document symptoms and occurrences. Always ask questions.
What to Do If You Think You’re a Victim of Malpractice
Some legitimate malpractice cases go unexplored because patients lack knowledge of their rights or fear the costs of trial. If you believe you’ve been a victim of malpractice, contact a malpractice lawyer immediately for a consultation.
Medical malpractice attorneys with Michigan Legal Center have decades of experience fighting for victims to receive the compensation they deserve. If you are not sure if your particular case constitutes medical malpractice, we can help. Give us a call and we will review your case for free or contact us online to schedule an appointment.