Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Fayetteville, NC
A medical error or a misdiagnosis can cause considerable harm and even threaten your life. You trusted that the health care provider would use their knowledge and skill to treat your medical condition. But the outcome left you with unanswered questions and suspicions. Neither the doctor nor the hospital is likely to admit that you were a victim of medical malpractice.
To find out what really happened to you, you will need to turn to a knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer. You have the right to seek answers, justice, and fair compensation if you were injured due to a medical provider’s negligence.
Medical malpractice claims can be challenging to pursue. The other side will likely fight back aggressively against any allegation of negligence. You will need a skilled medical negligence attorney with experience handling these types of cases to obtain your medical records and investigate what occurred. If you believe that you have been harmed by a medical professional’s negligence in Fayetteville, contact a medical malpractice attorney at Hardison & Cochran for a free consultation.
Common Types of Medical Malpractice Cases
You should be aware that not every unfavorable medical outcome stems from medical negligence. The term medical malpractice specifically refers to harm caused by a medical provider’s failure to follow the recognized standard of care, resulting in preventable injury to a patient.
Common examples of medical malpractice cases in Fayetteville include:
- Misdiagnosis – A misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor incorrectly diagnoses a medical condition or fails to diagnose it entirely. This can lead to improper treatments or a lack of treatment which can allow a disease to advance, making it more difficult to manage.
- Delayed diagnosis – When medical professionals fail to order appropriate diagnostic tests or misinterpret test results, it can result in a delayed diagnosis. Patients may miss out on life-saving treatment opportunities or sustain additional injuries in the interim.
- Incorrect treatment – Patients can suffer serious or fatal injuries as the result of improper treatment of their conditions. This applies to patients who receive no treatment at all or develop preventable infections due to provider negligence.
- Birth-related malpractice – Birth injuries to mothers or babies can occur when medical providers are negligent during any stage of pregnancy care, labor, delivery, or postpartum care. Birth injuries may occur if a doctor fails to recognize signs of a high-risk delivery and take appropriate precautions.
- Medication errors – An error in prescribing or administering medications during treatment, such as providing incorrect drugs or dosage amounts, can cause serious harm to patients.
- Surgical errors – Surgical malpractice often involves doctors operating on incorrect body parts, performing surgery on the wrong patient, or accidentally leaving surgical tools inside a patient. These errors are entirely preventable and should never happen, but they do.
- Anesthesia errors – Anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists may be liable for malpractice if they fail to review their patient’s medical history, administer incorrect anesthesia or improper dosages, or fail to continuously monitor vital signs while patients are under anesthesia.
Process for Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim in NC
If you suspect you may have received substandard medical care or sustained preventable injuries due to medical malpractice, you can take the following steps to establish your medical malpractice claim:
- Contact the medical provider involved – It’s a good idea to contact the medical provider who treated you as a first step to express your concerns. This way, you can seek to understand what may have gone wrong and give the provider an opportunity to address the issue.
- Contact the provider’s medical licensing board – If your medical provider refuses to help or discuss the issue with you, it may contact their medical licensing board. The North Carolina Medical Board has a complaint department and has authority to take action against a licensed physician if it determines that a violation of the Medical Practice Act has occurred such as a failure to maintain acceptable standards of care or lack of professional competence. The board will not be able to force your provider to compensate you, but they can issue warnings or discipline the provider.
- Contact a medical malpractice attorney – If the health care provider has not satisfied your concerns, you should talk to an experienced malpractice attorney. A lawyer can help you determine whether you have grounds to pursue a malpractice claim.
- Acquire copies of your medical records – Our attorneys will obtain your medical records and evaluate them to determine whether the health care provider failed to follow the recognized standard of care. Our law firm will hire an independent medical professional to review your medical records and offer an opinion about whether malpractice occurred. North Carolina law requires a sworn affidavit from an expert medical witness stating that the individual has evaluated your medical records and is prepared to testify that the standard of care you received amounted to medical malpractice.
- Notify the provider and their insurer – Once our attorneys determine you have grounds for a medical malpractice claim, we will gather evidence to support the claim and notify the relevant medical provider and their medical malpractice insurance provider. We will attempt to negotiate a proper settlement of the claim.
- File a medical malpractice complaint – If our attorneys are unable to resolve your case through an out-of-court settlement, we will file a complaint in Cumberland County court. The complaint will serve as a formal account of the allegations against the medical provider.
North Carolina limits the amount of time you have to file certain types of lawsuits, including medical malpractice lawsuits. If you attempt to file your lawsuit after the relevant statute of limitations deadline has passed, the court will likely dismiss your case. You will lose your right to demand compensation for your losses.
Generally, a victim of medical malpractice has three years from the date when the injury occurred to file a malpractice lawsuit in North Carolina civil courts. However, there are certain exceptions. If the injury was not immediately known and was only discovered after the fact, you may have additional time to file a claim.
For example, if a health care provider left a surgical tool or other foreign objects inside of a patient, the patient has one year from the date when the presence of the foreign object was discovered to file lawsuits, so long as they file within ten years of the date of the underlying surgical error.
What Do You Have to Prove in a Medical Malpractice Claim?
You may still be wondering, “Do I have a case for medical malpractice?” It may be useful to consider the four following basic elements needed to show that medical malpractice occurred:
- You had a formal, provider-patient relationship with your provider – Just because you received casual advice from an off-duty medical professional or overheard comments from a consulting physician does not mean they had a formal relationship with you as your provider. In most cases, you can prove a patient-provider relationship simply by providing your medical records, which can demonstrate the provider’s agreement to treat you.
- Your provider was negligent in some way – You must provide evidence that your provider caused your injury or illness as a result of medical errors or negligence that other competent providers would not have committed under similar circumstances. This is where an expert medical witness can pinpoint where your provider deviated from the appropriate standard of care in your case.
- Your provider’s negligence caused your injury or illness – If you were already injured or ill before you received care, it may be difficult to prove that the treatment you received caused you to suffer additional injury or illness. You must provide evidence to demonstrate that the provider’s negligence “more likely than not” caused you additional, preventable harm.
- The injury or illness you sustained resulted in real, specific losses – You must be able to demonstrate that the injury or illness you suffered as a result of your provider’s negligence caused you to sustain specific losses. These losses may include financial losses, such as out-of-pocket expenses for additional medical care or reduced wages from missed time at work while you recovered. Personal losses such as the physical pain and mental anguish you endured also may be considered.
Compensation in a Medical Malpractice Case
In a medical malpractice lawsuit, you may seek compensation for the following types of losses:
- Past, present, and future medical expenses related to the treatment of your malpractice-related injury or condition
- Lost wages and lost future earning potential from missed time at work or the long-term or permanent inability to return to your usual job
- The subjective costs of the pain, suffering, and mental anguish you endure as a result of the medical malpractice and your subsequent injury or illness
Keep in mind that North Carolina limits the amount of compensation you can recover for pain and suffering. As of January 1, 2020, the most you can receive in compensation for these “non-economic” losses is $562,338.
Talk to a Fayetteville Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you have questions about whether you were harmed by negligent medical care in Fayetteville, let our medical malpractice lawyers review the facts and discuss your legal options. Contact a Fayetteville medical negligence lawyer at Hardison & Cochran. Call us at (252) 333-3333 or contact us online for a free consultation.