What Are the Top Four Medical Malpractice Myths?
If you are a victim of medical malpractice, it is important to understand the top four medical malpractice myths associated with medical malpractice lawsuits. Every year in the United States, approximately 80,000 to 100,000 patients suffer injuries and health complications caused by medical malpractice or negligent actions by physicians, surgeons, and other types of medical professionals.
Top Myths and Misconceptions About Medical Malpractice
When it comes to court cases, few have more misconceptions and myths surrounding them than medical malpractice. These types of cases are complex and often difficult to understand, so there is plenty of mystery about medical malpractice lawsuits and why patients sue their doctors. Take a look at the top four medical malpractice myths and misconceptions associated with medical malpractice cases:
- Medical Malpractice Claims Are Frivolous
Medical malpractice claims are not frivolous or filed by unhappy patients who are seeking some type of revenge against their doctors. Facts and statistics on medical malpractice cases show that only 3% of cases are filed for frivolous reasons, while 97% are filed to recover damages for injuries caused by medical negligence.
- Medical Malpractice Wins Result in Huge Payouts
Fewer than 1% of medical malpractice claims result in awards of $1 million or higher. Most patients only receive compensation for their medical bills and healthcare costs, and their lost wages while they are incapacitated and can not work. In many cases, injury victims do not receive large payouts for their pain and suffering.
- Medical Malpractice Cases Are Filed to Get Money
When a patient is injured by medical malpractice and wins a lawsuit, the patient is awarded damages, but the patient is also looking for answers on how and why the injury occurred. Filing a lawsuit against medical professionals who make mistakes forces those parties to be deposed or to testify in court. For some families, this is the only way to find out what went wrong and why.
- Medical Errors Are Expected and Realistic Risks
Although there are certain risks and complications that can occur during medical procedures, no patient should expect that he or she will suffer injuries or health complications. While harm is certainly possible, it is not a realistic risk. In medical malpractice cases, most errors are preventable when medical professionals follow established medical guidelines and policies.
How to Know If You Have a Medical Malpractice Claim
To know if you have a valid medical malpractice claim, you must prove the following:
- There was an existing patient-doctor relationship at the time of the injury
- The expected standard of care associated with the doctor-patient relationship was breached
- The patient’s injury was caused by the breach
- The patient’s injury resulted in damages
The Medical Standard of Care
Medical professionals take an oath to protect their patients from harm to the best of their abilities. They are expected to provide a certain standard of care to their patients. The issue of the appropriate medical standard of care is often one of the most contentious in a medical malpractice case, and proving this element in court is usually a two-pronged task that includes the following:
- Establishing the appropriate medical standard of care that should apply to the patient’s case
- Showing in detail exactly how the defendant (the doctor or other care provider) fell short of meeting that standard
The medical standard of care is the type and amount of medical skill and attention that a prudent, similarly-trained medical professional in the same medical community as the defendant would have provided to the patient.
Breach of Duty of Care
The plaintiff must also establish how the medical standard of care was breached. Typically, this is done through the testimony of expert witnesses, who are usually other medical professionals and experts that can provide key evidence.
Why It Is Important to File for Medical Malpractice
The facts about medical malpractice demonstrate why it is important to file a claim for damages. If you are injured by a medical professional’s negligent actions, you have the legal right to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against that party or parties and collect monetary damages for your injury.
Monetary damages awarded in most successful medical malpractice cases usually include compensation to cover medical bills, rehabilitation expenses, and therapy costs; lost wages while unable to perform work; and pain and suffering. In cases that involve egregious conduct, lack of patient concern, or intent to cause harm, punitive damages may be awarded. These are damages awarded solely to punish the medical professional for his or her actions.
In Indiana, there are basic requirements for medical malpractice claims and special laws about when and how to file a medical malpractice claim. There are also laws in place that limit the monetary amount that victims may receive in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Before filing a medical malpractice claim in Indiana, the injured party (the plaintiff) must file a complaint with the Indiana Medical Review Panel, unless the plaintiff is claiming less than $15,000 in damages, or unless all parties to the lawsuit consent. If the plaintiff proceeds with the lawsuit and asks for less than $15,000 in damages, the plaintiff is not permitted to ask for more money without permission to do so by the court.
Most medical malpractice attorneys take medical malpractice cases on a contingency basis, which means that the injury victim does not have to pay legal fees until the case is successful. When the case is won, the attorney takes a percentage of the awarded amount, so there are no out-of-pocket expenses. In some cases, a settlement agreement is reached prior to going to court. This award amount is typically negotiated between the victim’s attorney and the medical professional’s attorney and insurance provider. In Indiana, average medical malpractice settlements range from $200,000 to over $1,000,000, depending on patient injuries.