While it might seem like something that comes out of a bad soap opera, medical malpractice is something that happens more often than we’d like to admit. In fact, in the United States, medical negligence is actually the third leading cause of death in the United States, right behind cancer and heart disease. A few years ago, back in 2012, there were over $3 billion dollars in payouts due to malpractices suits, meaning there was a pay out almost every 43 minutes for the entire year.
The definition of medical malpractice is when a doctor or a medical professional makes a mistake and you are harmed because of it. This is often the result when a medical provider deviates from the “standard of care.” Standard of care is simply the type of care that any reasonable medical provider would issue based on your condition. With that said, here is what you need to know about malpractice cases.
More often than not, people are afraid to talk to their doctors. We don’t feel well, or something hurts, so we seek medical help. The doctor pokes and prods at us for a moment, makes their best educated guess as to what the problem is, then shuffles us out the door with our prescription in hand. However, taking the moment to ask doctors questions can often insure that you’re not in the dark about what’s going on. Make sure you ask them about what kind of medication your being prescribed and why. If the procedure is more invasive and complicated, make sure you understand what’s going on and why. It might not always warrant a second opinion, but if you’re unsure, then it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Be Wary of a Quick Apology
They always tell you to never apologize during a car accident. The reason? Because when you apologize, you’re admitting fault to the accident. While a poor result isn’t always proof of malpractice, a malpractice claim exists if your provider’s negligence results in damage or injury. If a health care provider offers you an apology, which might seem for all intents and purposes, honest and genuine, be wary.
Often times, that well meaning apology might be a quick way to dissuade you from pursuing legal action, or even opens a gateway to a quick settlement without the need for litigation. This is often done before the full extent of the injuries are known, which means that quick settlement might not even begin to cover the extent of the harm.
In the Trenches: The Malpractice Battle
Malpractice cases are incredibly complex, long, drawn out, and frustrating ordeals. Doctors have to pay an exorbitant rate for malpractice insurance, which means the insurance company will fight tooth and nail to keep as much of it as they can. Due to how thin and fuzzy the line can be when it comes to what is a legitimate malpractice case, only about 20% of all the filed malpractice cases actually come out as a victory for the victim.
If you’ve been injured due to medical negligence, then make sure you seek out experienced, legal representation immediately.
Michael Schreyer is a personal injury attorney in Maryland and is a partner in the firm of Alpert Schreyer, LLC. He is an experienced personal injury attorney, serving the Maryland and Washington, DC area and providing information and advice on his law blog at dcmdlaw.com.