Baltimore Medical Malpractice Attorney
We place a great deal of trust in our doctors and hospitals. Medical training is notoriously long and arduous, and those who are able to complete it successfully and enter into medical practice are expected to be educated, focused, caring, and committed to the well-being and health of each patient for whom they are responsible. Most doctors and other healthcare professionals live up to the standards we expect of them. Most, but not all. Medical errors caused by physician negligence continue to deprive patients of their lives and health.
Going through medical processes can be traumatic experiences. What’s even more traumatic is coming out of the process worse off than you were before going in. There are many ways that a doctor or medical staff could err while diagnosing your symptoms or during the operation. If you suspect that you have been a victim of medical malpractice do not hesitate to contact a Baltimore medical malpractice attorney.
How Common are Serious Medical Errors in The United States?
Medical errors are a frighteningly common cause of needless death and damage to patients’ health.
According to a recent study undertaken by the prestigious Johns Hopkins Medical Center:
- Medical errors kill at least 250,000 Americans every year.
- Ten percent of all deaths in the United States are caused by medical error.
- Medical error is now the third highest cause of death in the nation.
- Medical errors are an under-recognized cause of patient fatalities.
Furthermore, for every fatality caused by medical error, there are roughly two additional non-fatal errors, many of which seriously diminish the patient’s quality of life.
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According to National Practitioner Data Bank in 2012 the amount of medical malpractice payments in Maryland was 302, but in 2016 the number went down to 226. However, the total number of reports from 2012 to 2016 went from 1,001 to 1,291. Even though the number of reports increased, the number of payments decreased.
However, do not be discouraged to speak up if you feel that you have been a victim of medical malpractice. An experienced attorney will stand by your side to fight for justice for you. And do not fear, you pay nothing up front until the outcome of your case is determined.
Who is Responsible for the Most Medical Errors?
A small number of doctors in the United States are responsible for the largest number of incidences of medical malpractice. According to statistics compiled by the National Practitioner Data Bank, a mere five percent of doctors commit 54 percent of all malpractice that results in a successful legal action and payout. Unfortunately, few of these repeat offenders are disciplined or prevented from practicing medicine, leaving patients vulnerable to their pattern of substandard care.
Obstetricians, surgeons, and orthopedists are the most frequent specialties facing medical malpractice law suits.
Defining Medical Malpractice
Not every poor health outcome can be considered medical malpractice. People get sick and die; it is part of the human condition. Doctors are neither gods nor magicians. Even the best doctors can’t cure everything. But they are expected to deliver quality care, consistent with their training and the standards of their profession. And these requirements are for all medical treatments, including birth.
Every physician and other healthcare professional owes a duty of care to each and every patient they treat. This means delivering a standard of care that is consistent with that which would be given by any reasonably competent physician in the same practice area and geographical region. A doctor or medical institution that does not deliver the appropriate standard of care can be held liable for the death or injury of a patient as a result of an error of commission of omission.
Common Types of Medical Errors
Common medical errors attributable to negligence include:
- Failure to diagnose
- Inaccurate diagnosis, e.g. diagnosing a heart attack as indigestion or meningitis as a migraine
- Medical Malpractice
- Improper treatment
- The wrong drug prescribed
- The wrong drug is given to the wrong patient
- Prescribing multiple drugs that interact negatively
- Objects left in the body during surgery
- Wrong site surgery
- Anesthesia errors
- Failure to properly monitor a patient during surgery
- Failure to take a thorough medical history
- Failure to inform patient of known risks of a treatment or procedure and alternative treatments
- Errors in refractive eye surgery
- Improper use or maintenance of medical equipment
- Birth injuries such as Erbs palsy
- Medication errors such as drug overdoses
These are just some of the injuries that can qualify for medical malpractice suits. If you believe that you have been harmed as a result of a doctor’s failure to provide his/her duty of care, you may have a case.
What You and Your Lawyer Will Need to Prove: Elements of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice cases are notoriously complex and difficult. You must retain experienced and highly skilled legal counsel if you hope to win such a demanding legal action. Through your lawyer, you will need to prove five legal elements of a medical malpractice case:
- The practitioner, as a medical professional, owed a duty of care to the patient. In other words, a doctor/patient relationship existed.
- A breach of that duty occurred by commission or omission, i.e. something was done that should not have been done, or something that should have been done was not done.
- The breach of duty caused an injury to the patient, whether physical or emotional.
- The treatment deviated from the accepted standard of care in Maryland’s medical community, i.e. what a competent professional in the same or similar specialization would or would not have done.
- You suffered demonstrable damages, whether economic or non-economic.
If any one of these elements is missing, you may not have a case. Furthermore, Maryland is one of a very few contributory negligence states, which means if you can be shown to be even one percent responsible for the poor outcome, you will not be able to receive compensation.
Requirements to File Medical Malpractice
In order to file medical malpractice, there is a process to be followed, you cannot just run into court and accuse a doctor of such a crime. When filing a lawsuit in any Maryland Circuit Court, you or your attorney must file your claim with the Director of the Maryland Health Claims Arbitration Office. After that, your attorney acting on behalf of you will have 90 days to file a certificate of merit written by a qualified medical expert. This process is used to ensure that the doctor you are suing truly has breached his duty of care, which harmed you.
Res Ipsa Loquitur
Res Ipsa Loquitor is a Latin for “the thing speaks for itself”. In Maryland, this doctrine allows plaintiffs to bring lawsuits when the negligence is so obvious the injury could not have occurred without the defendant’s negligence. In order to prove such obvious negligence three elements must be proven:
1. The injury is the kind that does not occur without negligence
2. The defendant was in sole control of the instrument causing the negligence and,
3. The injury was not caused by an act or lack of action by the plaintiff.
These types of cases are difficult to prove and rare to be brought under this theory. However, it is possible and good law in Maryland. To discuss more about this doctrine and possible elements of proof for your case contact a Baltimore medical malpractice attorney.
Maryland follows the theory of contributory negligence. Under this theory, if you, the plaintiff, are even one percent negligent in regards to the cause of the injury, you will not be able to recover. This is different from the majority of other states that follow comparative negligence, which determines the amount of damages based on the percent each party was negligent.
When dealing with medical malpractice cases contributory negligence often does not play a role. This is because the plaintiff is often sitting on the operating table under anesthesia while the doctor completes the procedure. If you believe that your doctor was negligent and did not meet the standard of care then you should immediately contact a Baltimore medical malpractice attorney.
What if I Signed a Consent Form?
Oftentimes, before undergoing medical procedures you will sign an informed consent form. This form states that the doctor has explained the possible risks of the procedures and that you understand the risks but still want to complete the procedure. Even if you signed one of these forms it may be possible to recover for medical malpractice. This does not mean that you can sue the doctor because one of the possible risks came true. Rather, you can pursue legal actions if the doctor failed to perform his or her duty within the standards of care. So, even if you signed a consent form, do not hesitate to speak to an attorney. At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, you can come in for a free consultation to discuss your medical malpractice case.
Statute of Limitations
Statutes of limitations are legal deadlines to file lawsuits. If the lawsuit is not filed within the statute of limitations then you will not be able to pursue the claim. In general, medical malpractice lawsuits must be filed within five years from the date of injury or three years from the date when the injury was reasonably discoverable. If the lawsuit is in regard to minors, then the statute of limitations to file medical malpractice lawsuits does not begin to run until after the minor turns 18.
If you are filing a wrongful death lawsuit then the statute of limitations is again different. A wrongful death lawsuit is when a family member or loved one brings suit on behalf of the deceased who was injured. The statute of limitations is three years from the date of death. Under wrongful death actions, the estate may sue for medical expenses and pain endured by the decedent or the loved ones may sue for pain and suffering caused by the loss of the decedent.
Damages you May Potentially Recover in a Maryland Medical Malpractice Case
There are three types of damages you may claim in an action for medical malpractice in Maryland:
- Economic damages, which include medical bills, rehab services, lost earnings and diminished future earning potential, projected future medical expenses, funeral expenses in wrongful death cases.
- Non-economic damages, which include physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of quality of life, and loss of companionship, support, and guidance.
- Punitive damages, which are relatively rare but are sometimes awarded by a jury if the malpractice exhibited an extreme and egregious disregard for life and health, designed as a punishment for the defendant, rather than to compensate the victim for actual losses.
When determining the amount of damages that may be awarded a cap may be placed to limit how much can be recovered. If you are suing the State of Maryland government then there is a cap of $200,000 per claimant from a single accident. When determining how much to expect from your case, contact an experienced Baltimore malpractice attorney.
Getting the Help you Need
If a close family member died or if you or someone close to you suffered severe adverse consequences to your health as a result of receiving improper medical care, you may be able to recover money as compensation for your damages. It is essential that you engage the services of a Maryland medical malpractice attorney with detailed knowledge of Maryland’s medical malpractice laws and experience in obtaining compensation awards.
When you come in for your free consultation at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice we will determine if you have a case and if so, how likely you are to win. We will also walk you through what evidence will be needed to proceed with the case. This oftentimes means that copies of medical records must be produced. Once these records and any other necessary evidence is produced an attorney will be able to gauge where your case may go. Many times, these medical malpractice cases settle outside of court. An experienced attorney will be able to tell you whether the settlement offer is a good or bad offer. There are many factors that can weigh on the settlement offer especially the type and permanency of injury inflicted. Allow a Baltimore medical malpractice attorney to help you through the litigation process.
How Much Money will this Cost Me?
When you are dealing with significant injury or even death of a loved one, the last thing you need to worry about is how much it will cost to get justice for your loss. At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, you don’t pay anything unless we win. The fee paid is based on a contingency fee, meaning you only pay a percentage of what the settlement or verdict is in the case.
Consult the Baltimore Medical Malpractice Attorney Team at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice
You can find the skilled legal help you need by contacting the law offices of Baltimore medical malpractice attorney G. Randolph Rice to arrange a free case consultation.
Randolph Rice not only has the passion for justice and the commitment to achieving the best outcome for every one of his clients, he also has the resources and connections to engage top expert witnesses who are so necessary in developing a winning medical malpractice case.
Because of strict time restrictions on filing a medical malpractice case in Maryland, and the large amount of investigation and preparation that goes into a successful case, you should call Randolph Rice Injury Lawyers as soon as you discover that you or your loved one may have been a victim of a preventable medical mistake. Don’t delay; call now to schedule an appointment to learn more about your legal options.