When Does Medical Malpractice Happen?
If you have been the victim of medical malpractice in the District of Columbia, Maryland or Virginia, or if you are a medical malpractice victim in the future, promptly schedule a consultation to speak about your legal rights and options with a Washington medical malpractice attorney.
Medical malpractice happens when a medical professional, by failing to follow or provide care in accordance with the standard of care, causes preventable harm or injury to a patient. Medical malpractice victims may recover monetary compensation for their losses and damages.
What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?
These incidents and similar incidents can constitute medical malpractice in the District of Columbia:
- prescription errors
- birth injuries suffered by either the mother or child
- misdiagnosing or failing to diagnose a medical condition
- failure to monitor a patient adequately
- emergency room mistakes and errors during surgery
Medical malpractice occurs when negligence by a medical professional or a medical facility leads to one of these outcomes:
- Someone’s medical condition declines as the result of a medical provider’s negligence.
- Someone is injured as the result of a medical provider’s negligence.
- Someone suffers a wrongful death as the result of a medical provider’s negligence.
Medical malpractice may apply to doctors, nurses, dentists, anesthesiologists, pharmacists, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, clinics, and to anyone or any facility offering professional medical care and services.
How Are Medical Malpractice Claims Resolved?
In the District of Columbia, the Medical Malpractice Proceedings Act of 2006 requires the parties in a medical malpractice case to seek a mediated settlement, but if no settlement is reached during mediation, the case may proceed to trial.
Doctors and hospitals often prefer to settle malpractice claims out of court instead of going to a trial where they could be held liable for a substantially larger judgment. Malpractice victims are also usually ready to settle because they typically need their compensation as soon as possible.
However, doctors and hospitals usually will not consider a settlement until it is virtually certain that they will be held liable for medical malpractice at a trial. Jurors typically award more compensation than a victim would receive from a doctor’s or hospital’s insurance company.
Should a medical malpractice victim settle his or her claim during mediation or go to trial? That answer will depend on the details of the case. If you are a medical malpractice victim, you will need to rely on the insights and experience of your Washington medical malpractice lawyer.
Should You Take Your Medical Malpractice Case to Trial?
An out-of-court settlement guarantees that a medical malpractice victim will recover some amount of compensation for his or her injuries and losses, although a mediated settlement may not recover the compensation amount that a trial would provide.
On the other hand, you could recover nothing at a trial if the judge or jury finds in favor of the defendant (the party being sued). The choice to accept a settlement offer or go to trial is usually determined by the amount of money the at-fault party is willing to offer for the settlement.
If the amount offered by the doctor or hospital is less than your claim is worth, and if your evidence of malpractice is persuasive, taking a settlement offer may not be your best option, and your Washington medical malpractice attorney will probably recommend taking the case to trial.
What Happens When a Medical Malpractice Settlement is Negotiated?
You probably should not accept the first offer made to you; it is likely to be a “low-ball” amount. You will need an aggressive and experienced medical malpractice lawyer to advocate on your behalf.
The two main advantages of settling your medical malpractice claim before it can go to trial are speed and security. You will know that you are going to recover some amount of compensation quickly, and the amount will not be decided by a third party – a judge or a jury.
What Compensation Can Medical Malpractice Victims Expect to Recover?
When you proceed with a claim for medical malpractice, you may be allowed to recover the following types of compensation:
- Pending and projected future medical costs that may include corrective surgeries, doctor visits, hospital care, rehabilitation therapy, assistive devices, medications, home healthcare expenses, transportation costs, and additional related medical expenses.
- Current and projected future lost earnings and benefits: Medical malpractice victims may recover compensation for their projected lost earnings if they can’t return to work. Some victims of medical malpractice become permanently disabled and will never work again.
- Pain and personal suffering compensation: Medical malpractice victims have the right to recover compensation for their physical pain, personal suffering, loss of the “quality of life,” and in some cases, loss of consortium (the inability to enjoy marital relations).
- Punitive damages are intended as punishment for at-fault parties. Punitive damages are rarely awarded in medical malpractice cases, but victims may recover punitive damages if the hospital’s or doctor’s conduct was particularly egregious, intentional, or cruel.
When Will You Need a Medical Malpractice Lawyer?
The deadline for bringing a medical malpractice claim in the District of Columbia is three years. There are several narrow exceptions to that deadline, but it’s best to act quickly and contact a Washington medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible after a medical malpractice incident.
Your lawyer should examine the evidence before it deteriorates and speak to the witnesses before their recollections fade. Medical malpractice lawyers represent clients on a contingent fee basis, so you pay no lawyer’s fee upfront or until your lawyer recovers the compensation you seek.
But with so many attorneys practicing in the nation’s capital, how can you find the medical malpractice attorney who will make your case a priority and fight aggressively for your rights?
Goldberg Finnegan is Here for Medical Malpractice Victims
If you are victimized by medical malpractice in or near the District of Columbia, now or in the future, you should be advised and represented by a Washington, D.C. attorney who:
- has experience proving how medical providers can be negligent
- has substantial experience with the mediation process
- knows the insurance companies and knows how they negotiate
- has considerable trial experience in case your claim goes to trial
- fights effectively and aggressively for the victims of medical malpractice
If you are a victim of medical malpractice, put your case in our hands at Goldberg Finnegan. Our legal team has recovered millions of dollars for the injured victims of negligence in both Maryland and the District of Columbia. You can learn more or begin the legal process now by contacting Goldberg Finnegan at 301-820-7815 to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.