Doctors must take the greatest care in diagnosing and treating their patients, as the smallest mistake in treatment can be life threatening. In the large majority of cases, doctors act competently and do save lives. But doctors are human and mistakes can happen, and, the sad fact is that in some cases they treat patients in a careless or negligent manner, causing enormous harm to their patients who entrust their health and well being to the care of the physician. If you or a family member has been injured or harmed by the carelessness or negligence of your physician or other medical professional, you have rights. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer at Injury Law Group can help you and your family hold the doctor accountable for the harm they have caused.
Malpractice refers to when a medical professional, such as a doctor, acts negligently. A doctor acts negligently when he or she is so careless or incompetent in diagnosing or treating a patient, that the physician’s conduct fails to uphold to the standard of care expected of a physician. If your physician acted incompetently and failed to abide by the required standard of care, your medical malpractice lawyer at Injury Law Group will bring a claim for negligence against the physician on your behalf. If your medical malpractice attorney can prove that the doctor was negligent and thus committed malpractice, the doctor will be responsible for your medical bills and your attorney can obtain a monetary award from your physician for the pain and suffering that you have suffered. In order to prove that your doctor was negligent, your attorney will need to hire a medical expert witness, which will be a significant cost and factor in the prosecution of your personal injury claim.
The standard of care expected by a physician is the skill and competence of a reasonably prudent physician performing the type of diagnosis or treatment performed by your doctor and under the same circumstances. If your doctor failed to use exercise the competence and skill of a reasonably prudent doctor under similar circumstances, and you suffered harm as a direct result of your physician’s actions or inactions, then your California medical malpractice attorney will bring a claim of negligence, commonly referred to by lawyers as a “med mal” claim, against your physician or other health care provider.
Malpractice claims or med mal claims are not limited to just the conduct of your doctor. Nurses, members of a physician’s office staff, and hospital staff and medical personnel can all be negligent in rendering medical treatment or related services. Incompetent actions by medical staff or hospital staff can give rise to a negligence claim against the physician, hospital, or health care facility where you were treated.
Medical malpractice insurers almost never settle malpractice claims, even if your attorney puts forward a strong case and demand letter with ample evidence of negligent or incompetent conduct on the part of the doctor of medical staff. Almost invariably, the doctor’s insurance company will force you to go to trial. In order for your attorney to prove that the physician was negligent or incompetent and thus win your case, your attorney will have to retain a medical expert witness or other medical professional to review the case file and testify that your doctor was negligent in diagnosing or treating you. Your attorney will ask the doctor or other medical professional to review your case file and provide an expert opinion as to whether the actions or inactions of your treating physician fell below the standard of care expected by the doctor.
One of the biggest factors in the prosecution of a negligence claim against a doctor or hospital is that you and your medical malpractice lawyer will have to address is expert witness fees and other costs. Doctors who testify as medical expert witnesses charge very high retainer fees for their services. As doctors, they already command a high rate of compensation for their services. Doctors who testify as expert witnesses have both the medical skills of a physician and are experienced at testifying in court proceedings. Many of them pursue the field of expert witness testimony because they are able to speak and testify well. These doctors usually command a higher rate of compensation that their colleagues who do not testify as expert witnesses. Retaining a doctor to testify as an expert witness in support of your case can and often wil cost tens of thousands of dollars, or more, depending on the number and complexity of the issues involved in your case.
There is a pain and suffering cap on the amount of monetary compensation that you can obtain in med mal cases. This does not limit the amount of your medical bills and lost wages that you can recover, but it does limit the amount of compensation you can receive for pain and suffering and other “noneconomic” damages. Your personal injury attorney can discuss with you how the med mal cap can affect your legal rights and your financial recovery.