Fighting to Hold Negligent Medical Providers Responsible
When a doctor or another health care professional commits a negligent act or omission that results in injury or harm to a patient, this constitutes medical malpractice. Medical malpractice laws and regulations vary by state; medical malpractice claims are common enough that doctors and some other medical professionals are required to carry medical malpractice insurance to cover the cost of any lawsuits.
If you believe that you or a loved one were the victim medical malpractice, it’s important to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney right away. In most cases, you only have two years from the date of the allegedly negligent act to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in Missouri. At The Dixon Injury Firm, we are prepared to pool our resources, time, and skill to assist you with your claim. Our St. Louis medical malpractice lawyers have successfully fought for countless victims of medical negligence, recovering more than $50 million in total for our clients. We have what it takes to fight for you and the justice you deserve.
The majority of medical malpractice claims are filed due to a negligent act by the medical professional. The most common type of medical malpractice case is misdiagnosis, followed by prescription drug errors, failure to treat, and surgical errors.
In order for an act or failure to act to constitute medical malpractice, your attorney will need to prove the following elements of your claim:
- There was a doctor-patient relationship
- The doctor (or health care provider) failed to uphold the accepted medical standard of care
- As a result of this failure, you, the patient, were injured or suffered harm
Note that a poor outcome does not necessarily mean that malpractice has occurred. If a doctor ordered all the proper diagnostic tests and analyzed the results correctly but was still unable to diagnosis your condition and, so, referred you to a specialist, this is not medical malpractice. In contrast, if a doctor ignored your symptoms, did not order any diagnostic tests, and, instead, sent you home despite obvious signs of illness, this could be grounds for a medical malpractice claim.
How Does Medical Malpractice Happen?
Most cases of negligent behavior on the part of a medical professionals aren’t intentional. Many occur as a result of things like lack of sleep due to long work hours or improper training and supervision. However, intent isn’t necessary to prove medical malpractice in Missouri as long as a negligent act (or omission) occurred. Unfortunately, some cases of medical malpractice are intentional. When a medical professional exhibits negligent behavior on purpose, for reasons such as financial gain or otherwise, any resulting medical malpractice claim could result in additional punitive damages being awarded to the victim.
Damages in Medical Malpractice Cases
Damages in medical malpractice cases in Missouri can include economic damages (such as reimbursement for medical bills, and lost wages,) non-economic damages (pain and suffering, economic distress), and punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed to punish the health care professional and only apply when it can be proven that the defendant demonstrated willful or malicious conduct that contributed to the plaintiff’s losses. Determining the appropriate amount of damages in a given case can be complicated, especially when it comes to things like calculating future lost earnings and putting a monetary value on pain and suffering. In addition, it must be shown that there’s a direct link between the health care professional’s behavior and the patient’s loss.
What Is the Difference Between Malpractice & Negligence?
Although there are some significant differences between malpractice and negligence, the most distinctive one is what the law calls “intent.” In legal terms, intent means the prosecution has to prove that the accused person meant to act in a way he knows that’s prohibited by law. Medical negligence causes unintentional harm to a patient. It’s a mistake, but it is often the result of a pattern of harm. Meanwhile, medical malpractice is when a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional does not provide proper care despite knowing the standard of care necessary for the medical procedure. It’s not a mistake. It’s a blatant disregard for the proper procedures. Proving medical negligence or medical malpractice will be based on evidence gathered about the case, such as witness reports about what was said or done at the time the patient underwent the medical procedure.
What Is the Average Payout for Medical Malpractice?
According to the 2019 Medical Malpractice Payout Report, medical malpractice lawsuit settlements are calculated based on state-by-state breakdowns, and these can vary widely by state. For instance, in 2018, the highest average payouts were in New York and Pennsylvania. New York paid out an average of $446,461 while Pennsylvania paid out an average of $405,978. Overall, the average malpractice payment for all states in 2018 is estimated to have been about $348,065.
What Are the Odds of Winning a Medical Malpractice Suit?
When advising a client on how to win a medical malpractice lawsuit, an attorney has to carefully weigh the strength of the evidence of the case. According to statistics researched by Philip G. Peters, JD, the author of an NCBI article entitled Twenty Years of Evidence on the Outcomes of Malpractice Claims, “Physicians win 80% to 90% of the jury trials with weak evidence of medical negligence, approximately 70% of the borderline cases, and even 50% of the trials in cases with strong evidence of medical negligence.” Statistically, then, medical malpractice cases won depend on the “preponderance of evidence” provided by the patient’s attorney to the jury.
How Long Does a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Take?
It’s reasonable for a patient who has been harmed by a medical provider’s negligent or substandard care to wonder how long their malpractice lawsuit will take. Unfortunately, an urgent need to recover from the burden of lost income and high medical bills does not influence legal consideration on how long it will take for a malpractice case to go to court or settle out of court. Instead, what determines the duration of the case will depend on its complexity and the schedule of the court to hear the case. Despite these constraints, an attorney will work to secure compensation as quickly as possible while also fighting to make sure their client gets the money they deserve for their financial hardships and physical suffering.
Is Medical Malpractice Difficult to Prove?
How difficult is it to prove medical negligence? Medical malpractice is difficult to prove if there isn’t “a preponderance of evidence” to convince a jury. But an attorney can win the case if they can establish that the doctor had a formal relationship with the patient and failed to provide necessary medical services. Medical experts may be called into court to testify that the physician’s negligence caused the patient sufficient injury to seriously damage their health. Since the medical professional bears no burden of proof, it is necessary to clearly prove to a jury that they acted in an unreasonable way.
Types of Medical Malpractice Claims
Medical malpractice lawyers represent those who have suffered harm due to the negligence of a doctor or another medical professional.
Some common types of medical malpractice claims include:
- Birth Injuries: Birth injuries occur when a child is harmed during pregnancy, labor, or delivery because of a medical professional’s failure to provide an acceptable standard of care. For example, if a baby ends up with cerebral palsy or brain damage because a doctor or nurse failed to properly monitor the infant for signs of fetal distress during birth, this is an example of a birth injury.
- Prescription Drug Errors: There are many different types of medication errors, such as a prescription being written for the wrong patient, a patient receiving the wrong medication or wrong dosage of the correct medication, or a prescription that is improperly or incorrectly filled by a pharmacy.
- Misdiagnosis/Delayed Diagnosis: When a physician fails to diagnose a serious condition, such as heart disease or cancer, within a timely manner, this can be an example of malpractice. Diagnosis errors, including misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis, are some of the most common types of medical malpractice claims.
- Failure to Treat: If a physician, doctor, nurse, or another medical professional fails to properly treat a patient’s condition, whether as a result of a missed or delayed diagnosis or due to other additional factors, this is often considered malpractice and could be grounds for a medical malpractice claim.
- Surgical Errors: When a mistake is made during surgery or when a surgery is performed that is later deemed unnecessary, this is malpractice. Surgical errors also involve objects that are left behind inside the body after surgery, surgery that is performed on the wrong patient or wrong location, anesthesia errors, and more.
This isn’t an all-inclusive list of the grounds for medical malpractice cases. If a physician or another health care professional’s negligent behavior resulted in you being injured or otherwise harmed, this could constitute medical malpractice and you could be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
How to Win a Medical Malpractice Case
To win a medical malpractice case in Missouri, you don’t necessarily need to prove that the medical provider was negligent. In the most basic of terms, for your Missouri medical malpractice case to be successful, you’ll need to demonstrate that the medical professional failed to provide a reasonable standard of care and that this failure caused or contributed to your damages.
This can be difficult to prove and, in many cases, it requires a significant amount of medical knowledge to demonstrate the exact causation between the treatment and the negative consequences. This is one of many reasons why it is important to work with an experienced medical malpractice attorney who knows the law and who has access to medical experts and other specialists.
In fact, Missouri law requires that within 90 days of filing a medical malpractice case with the court you provide a sworn affidavit from a qualified medical professional supporting your position that the defendant’s failure to use reasonable care played a part in your damages. It can be very difficult for an unrepresented medical malpractice plaintiff to obtain this affidavit in order to adhere to this requirement.
Relatively few medical malpractice cases end in a trial; the large majority are settled out of court. An experienced St. Louis medical malpractice lawyer, such as those at The Dixon Injury Firm, has the knowledge necessary to accurately assess what your claim is worth and can negotiate with the liable party’s insurance provider to help ensure you get the maximum settlement that you deserve.
If you believe that you may have been a victim of medical malpractice in Missouri, it’s important to contact a qualified attorney as soon as possible. There are strict time limits related to filing a medical malpractice case in Missouri, so do not wait—contact The Dixon Injury Firm right away for a free initial consultation.
Time Limits for Filing Medical Malpractice Claims in Missouri
The time allowed under Missouri law to file a medical malpractice lawsuit is limited. Generally, a medical malpractice case must be filed within two years of the date of occurrence.
If the medical negligence claim involves a foreign object that was left in the body, the suit must be filed within two years of when the object was discovered.
If a loved one dies as a result of medical malpractice, Missouri law requires that the wrongful death lawsuit be filed within three years of death.
Within 90 days of filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Missouri, the plaintiff must file an expert affidavit stating that a written opinion has been obtained from a legally qualified health care provider regarding the defendant’s negligence. The expert must conclude that the defendant failed to use such care as a reasonably prudent and careful healthcare provider would have under similar circumstances, and that such failure to use such reasonable care directly caused or directly contributed to the damages claimed in the petition (RSMo. Section 538.225 ).
What Is Physician Neglect?
Physician neglect is when a medical professional fails to uphold the accepted standard of medical care or performs in a way that differs from accepted medical standards. If a physician is negligent, it can lead to a wide range of problems, from worsened symptoms for undiagnosed conditions to the spread of untreated illness and serious side effects and complications related to medication errors, surgical mistakes, and other negligent acts.
While poor results after seeking medical help doesn’t always constitute physician neglect, doctors can make mistakes that cause patients to experience harmful side effects, which can be considered medical malpractice.
Some of the most common types of physician neglect are:
- A physician failing to diagnose a disease or a condition that required immediate medical attention; if your doctor didn’t meet medical care standards, you could have a claim.
- Improper treatment—if your doctor misdiagnosed you and allowed for treatment that you didn’t need, this could cause serious side effects.
- If your doctor prescribed the wrong medication for your illness, he or she has violated the medical standard of care and committed physician neglect.
- If you are pregnant, and your physician fails to treat any conditions that could endanger you or the fetus, you might have a medical malpractice case.
If you or someone you care about is a victim of physician neglect, it is critical to know your rights as a patient and understand that you could be entitled to damages because of your experience. To prove physician neglect, you should consult a physician neglect lawyer. Your lawyer can help prove that there is an existing doctor-patient relationship and that there was some sort of agreement for the physician to treat you. Your attorney can then argue that your doctor didn’t act in accordance with the state’s medical care standard. This is typically done by showing what your doctor should have done to treat you by examining other doctors from the community, thereby proving that the physician violated clinical practice guidelines. Your attorney will need to prove that your doctor caused your condition to worsen, or that you were otherwise harmed while being treated under their care.
Lastly, your attorney can help prove details of the harm or damages you’ve sustained. This includes loss of wages, as well as bills from additional medical treatment or other expenses that arose due to the physician neglect.
Medical malpractice cases are complex. They usually revolve around highly complex medical issues and require a solid understanding of medical terminology and procedures. In addition, the requirements for proving negligent behavior and the method of calculating damages are complicated and are best left to a qualified medical malpractice lawyer. An attorney will be experienced in working with expert witnesses and has other resources on hand to assist in building a strong case on your behalf.
At The Dixon Injury Firm, our St. Louis medical malpractice lawyers have helped thousands of injury victims fight for fair reimbursement for their harms and losses. Our founding attorney, Christopher Dixon, is recognized as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers Association and provides aggressive legal representation for the injured.
If you believe you or a loved one suffered injuries, complications, illness, or harm due to medical negligence or malpractice, do not wait to contact a St. Louis medical malpractice attorney at our firm. Your time to file a claim and seek compensation for your losses is limited. Our attorneys can begin an immediate investigation of your case and work with medical experts and other specialists to provide evidence of your claims. We are committed to protecting our clients’ rights and fighting for their best interests throughout the legal process.
At The Dixon Injury Firm, we provide free initial consultations and offer our legal services on a contingency fee basis. This means that you do not owe any attorneys’ fees unless/until we recover compensation for you—if we do not win your case, you do not pay.
Contact us 24/7 at (314) 208-2808 to learn how our award-winning legal team can help you with your medical malpractice case.