Introduction to Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice victims who have been injured by medical malpractice often ask, “should I get a lawyer for a medical malpractice situation?” and, “when can an attorney help in a medical malpractice case?”  The lawyer answer is, it depends on three things: (1) fault or liability; (2) causation of serious, permanent injuries and damages; and (3) availability of insurance to pay money damages.  What is medical malpractice?  Medical malpractice occurs when a hospital, doctor, or other healthcare professional is negligent and causes harm to a patient.  The negligence might be the result of a misdiagnosis, inappropriate treatment, errors in aftercare or health management, when a provider fails to perform proper healthcare duties or medical duties.  Medical malpractice lawyers can literally be lifesavers in helping navigate these issues and provide attorney answers.  You will want to discuss how much the lawyer charges for a medical malpractice case, often a contingency fee reflecting a percentage of the amount recovered in damages, where you don’t pay unless the lawyer wins for you.  A top medical malpractice lawyer will handle the full range of medical malpractice cases, medical malpracitice lawsuits involving all types of substandard care that caused serious and permanent harm to the patient.  

The medical malpractice law firm can provide answers to what the average settlement is for medical malpractice, which will depend on the variables listed above and can range from tens of thousands, to hundreds of thousands, and even in to multiple millions of dollars depending on the circumstances.  The medical malpractice lawyer can provide an explanation as to how and why the dollar amounts vary and answer questions such as “how much to you get for pain and suffering?”  

You will also learn how do you prove medical malpractice and what qualifies as medical malpractice, which involves consulting with expert medical witnesses on whether the standard of care was violated, whether that caused injuries, and the dollar amount of damages for past and future medical bills, loss of income, and pain and suffering, which are part of the four elements of medical malpractice law.  How long do you have to get a lawyer after medical malpractice?  The attorney answer is: in Idaho, adults generally only have two (2) years to take legal action, minors have longer, and there are shorter deadlines if a governmental entity is involved as a potential defendant, but each case can be different so do not delay in finding a medical malpractice law firm. 

Questions on Medical Malpractice

In researching “how do I choose a good medical malpractice lawyer” to find the best medical malpractice attorneys, you should look at experience, location, reputation, actual past results in terms of dollars recovered, as well as staff customer service.  In comparing medical malpractice attorneys and medical malpractice lawyers in Idaho, while you want a medical malpractice law firm that is aggressive and experienced, you also want an attorney that is known as one of Idaho’s best for medical malpractice claims, and a lawyer who is a winning Idaho medical malpractice attorney providing client-focused representation. Various medical malpractice attorneys will be recommended by professional organizations, which can help you come up with a definitive list of medical malpractice lawyers. Note that there are definitely reasons why a medical malpractice lawyer will not take your case, ranging from problems proving fault, to a lack of legitimate and serious injuries, to a lack of damages and a situation where there is no insurance.  These are all things to consider in deciding whether to get involved in making a claim and bringing a medical malpractice lawsuit.  But, if these factors are positive, a good medical malpractice law firm will fight for your rights to full compensation for your losses, particularly in cases where someone is suffering the effects of catastrophic medical malpractice.  A top rated lawyer will be able to help you find answers on whether it makes sense to pursue a medical malpractice settlement versus move forward with an actual medical malpractice lawsuit in court. A top rated medical malpractice law firm will be willing to meet with you in person to provide lawyer explanations to your questions as to how the process works, costs, fees, timing, and other important details.  A top rated medical malpractice attorney will explain that each case is unique and requires individual analysis and attention. http://www.patrickmahoneylaw.com/areas-of-practice/medical-negligence

Types of Medical Malpractice

Mahoney Law PLLC of Boise, Idaho is currently accepting and evaluating medical malpractice cases in Boise, and all of Idaho, involving all types of negligent medical care.  We handle cases all over the state of Idaho.  In striving to be a top medical malpractice law firm, we use the services of numerous medical experts to assist us in evaluating your potential medical malpractice case.  Medical malpractice can involve providing care in a negligent manner, an error in the commission of providing healthcare.  For example, medical malpractice can also be the lack of providing care, the failure to provide care or an ommission in providing care.  Surgery malpractice in severing an internal organ may be malpractice, as could failure to provide surgery when needed by the standard of care.  Providing the wrong treatment for a diagnosis may be malpractice, as can failure to diagnose or a delay in diagnosis.  A failure to provide a timely cesarean section in a labor and delivery setting may consitute malpractice in certain circumstances, as could using improper techniques to deal with a baby not descending properly down the birth canal or in administering too much medication to induce contractions.  Failure to diagnose infection or improperly treatment of infection can be malpractice depending on the case and may lead to serious consequences such as amputations.  Malpractice can lead to things such as loss of vision or serious vision impairment.  Another example is improper adminsitration of anesthesia or failure to properly monitor the patient under anesthesia, which can lead to a lack of oxygen to the brain causing an anoxic brain injury.  Incorrect dosing of medictions can be malpractice with potentially fatal consequences.  Sometimes, there is medical malpractice in the radiology department, where imaging scans are misread with serious consequences.  These are just several exmaples of substandard care or failure to provide care that seriously harms the patient.  

Some of the more interesting cases we have reviewed over the past month include: medical malpractice for an orthopedic surgery procedure resulting in a leg amputation; a medical malpractice case involving a radiologist misreading an imaging scan resulting in wrongful death; a medical malpractice case involving severe birth injuries due to failure to diagnose neonatal meningitis.

Mahoney Law PLLC of Boise is currently handing or reviewing medical malpractice cases involving the following areas in Idaho and across the nation:

All Types of General Medical Malpractice Cases

Sepsis Infection Cases

Mis-Diagnosis, Wrong Diagnosis, Failure to Diagnose, Late Diagnosis

Failrue to provide treatment, Delay in Providing Treatment

Birth Injury Cases

Cerebral Palsy Birth Cases

Shoulder Dystocia Birth Cases

Surgical Cases

Medical Device Cases

Time Limits in Medical Malpractice Cases

In Idaho, a patient usually has two years to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.  A personal injury victim also usually has two years to file a personal injury lawsuit.  There are certain exceptions to the two year deadline under Idaho law, for example in some cases involving minor children.  Certain procedural aspects can toll the deadline from running for a limited time, such as filing certain pre-lawsuit requests in medical cases in Idaho.  But, there are even shorter deadlines that can apply in cases with a governmental entity wherein there is a 180 notice of tort claim deadline (for county hospitals, for example), and there is a two year federal notice of tort claim requirement in certain cases involving claims against the federal government.  The bottom line is that each case can be different, so do not delay in contacting counsel to review your potential medical malpractice claim or personal injury matter to determine what the deadlines are in your case.

To recap, in Idaho, there are three key time limits that a patient needs to be aware of in bringing a medical malpractice lawsuit. First, if the hospital is a governmental entity, such as a county hospital, there is a 180 day notice of tort claim deadline. Second, before a lawsuit is filed, you have to file for a review with the Idaho State Board of Medicine's Pre-Litigation Screening Panel. Third, generally speaking, you only have two years from the date of the alleged negligence within which to actually file a lawsuit (although each case can be unique and requires review). Do not delay, as these deadlines are all critical.

Case Evaluation for Medical Malpractice

Your prospective lawyer will want to review the details of the case. He or she will first need to look at all of the relevant medical records. The lawyer will need to see if the records document anything that may have been done wrong. The lawyer will next want to have an expert in the particular medical field review the records to see if a case can be proven. Finally, the lawyer will want to evaluate the injuries the alleged negligence caused to get an idea of the possible areas of damages.

Case Process for Medical Malpractice

If your lawyer accepts your case, he or she will file the proper paperwork with the Idaho State Board of Medicine. Then, after an advisory decision is issued, the lawyer must wait 30 days, and then a lawsuit can be filed. Once a lawsuit is filed, each side will send the other written information requests, called discovery requests. Your lawyer will depose the opposing witnesses and you will be deposed by the defendant's lawyers as well. The case will be set for a trial, usually about a year to year-and-a-half down the road. As discovery proceeds, the other side may want to settle, if not the case proceeds to trial. Experts will be called on the standard of care, injuries, and damages. A verdict will be reached, which can then be appealed. This is a long process and requires patience.

Procedural Items in Medical Malpractice

There are several procedural things that need to be done for a medical malpractice lawsuit in Idaho.  Most of these can be found at https://legislature.idaho.gov/statutesrules/idstat/Title6/T6CH10/.  

Idaho requires a pre-litigation medical malpractice hearing panel process. https://legislature.idaho.gov/statutesrules/idstat/Title6/T6CH10/SECT6-1001/  The composition of the medical malpractice panel is by statute.  https://legislature.idaho.gov/statutesrules/idstat/Title6/T6CH10/SECT6-1002/  Proceedings in front of the medical malpractice panel in Idaho are informal. https://legislature.idaho.gov/statutesrules/idstat/Title6/T6CH10/SECT6-1003/  The panel will issue an advisory opinion that is not binding and is not admissible later in evidence in a medical malpractice lawsuit.  https://legislature.idaho.gov/statutesrules/idstat/Title6/T6CH10/SECT6-1004/  The statute of limitations is tolled pending panel proceedings.  https://legislature.idaho.gov/statutesrules/idstat/Title6/T6CH10/SECT6-1005/  

Proving Medical Malpractice

In a medical malpractice lawsuit in Idaho, the patient must prove the provider violated the applicable standard of care.  

https://legislature.idaho.gov/statutesrules/idstat/Title6/T6CH10/SECT6-1012/  

6-1012.  PROOF OF COMMUNITY STANDARD OF HEALTH CARE PRACTICE IN MALPRACTICE CASE. In any case, claim or action for damages due to injury to or death of any person, brought against any physician and surgeon or other provider of health care, including, without limitation, any dentist, physicians’ assistant, nurse practitioner, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, nurse anesthetist, medical technologist, physical therapist, hospital or nursing home, or any person vicariously liable for the negligence of them or any of them, on account of the provision of or failure to provide health care or on account of any matter incidental or related thereto, such claimant or plaintiff must, as an essential part of his or her case in chief, affirmatively prove by direct expert testimony and by a preponderance of all the competent evidence, that such defendant then and there negligently failed to meet the applicable standard of health care practice of the community in which such care allegedly was or should have been provided, as such standard existed at the time and place of the alleged negligence of such physician and surgeon, hospital or other such health care provider and as such standard then and there existed with respect to the class of health care provider that such defendant then and there belonged to and in which capacity he, she or it was functioning. Such individual providers of health care shall be judged in such cases in comparison with similarly trained and qualified providers of the same class in the same community, taking into account his or her training, experience, and fields of medical specialization, if any. If there be no other like provider in the community and the standard of practice is therefore indeterminable, evidence of such standard in similar Idaho communities at said time may be considered. As used in this act, the term "community" refers to that geographical area ordinarily served by the licensed general hospital at or nearest to which such care was or allegedly should have been provided.

This is done by appropriate expert witness testimony.  https://legislature.idaho.gov/statutesrules/idstat/Title6/T6CH10/SECT6-1013/  

6-1013.  TESTIMONY OF EXPERT WITNESS ON COMMUNITY STANDARD. The applicable standard of practice and such a defendant’s failure to meet said standard must be established in such cases by such a plaintiff by testimony of one (1) or more knowledgeable, competent expert witnesses, and such expert testimony may only be admitted in evidence if the foundation therefor is first laid, establishing (a) that such an opinion is actually held by the expert witness, (b) that the said opinion can be testified to with reasonable medical certainty, and (c) that such expert witness possesses professional knowledge and expertise coupled with actual knowledge of the applicable said community standard to which his or her expert opinion testimony is addressed; provided, this section shall not be construed to prohibit or otherwise preclude a competent expert witness who resides elsewhere from adequately familiarizing himself with the standards and practices of (a particular) such area and thereafter giving opinion testimony in such a trial.

Idaho courts use specific jury instructions in medical malpractice cases, which are here: https://isc.idaho.gov/main/civil-jury-instructions  The jury instruction elements of for medical malpractice in Idaho are:             IDJI 2.10.3 - Charging elements of medical negligence:

            On the claim of medical negligence against the defendant for failure to meet the standard of care, the plaintiff has the burden of proof on each of the following propositions:

            1.         That the defendant failed to meet the applicable standard of care as defined in these instructions;

            2.         That the plaintiff was injured;

            3.         That the acts of the defendant which failed to meet the applicable standard of care were a proximate cause of the injuries of the plaintiff; and

            4.         The elements of damage and the amount thereof.

 

Additional Medical Malpractice Resources

Idaho State Board of Medicine; American Association for Justice; Idaho Trial Lawyers Association

Mahoney Law PLLC, Idaho Medical Malpractice  http://www.patrickmahoneylaw.com/areas-of-practice/medical-negligence

In our effort to be one of the best medical malpractice firms, we offer free, no obligation case evaluations and we work on a contingency fee (commission) basis so you pay no fees unless we are successful at trial or with settlement.  We are highly ranked on AVVO, Super Lawyers, and with the Better Business Bureau.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5YOcHLDcvg

 

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