When patients receive medical care from a physician or healthcare facility, they do so with the expectation that they will receive the best care and treatment. Though those expectations are met for many, many others become victims of medical malpractice that results in devastating pain and lifelong complications.
According to the National Practitioner Data Bank, a government database that details all medical malpractice reports and payments in the United States, there was an average of 12,414 reports per year between 2009-2018. While those numbers are startling, you can take action against negligent healthcare providers and facilities.
What You Need to Know about Medical Malpractice
In the unfortunate event that you or a loved may have suffered as a result of medical practice, here’s what you need to know.
Legal term to know: Medical Malpractice
What it means: Medical malpractice happens when a hospital, doctor, or other health care professional negligently causes the injury or death of a patient.
Examples of Medical Malpractice:
There are a variety of circumstances that may result in a malpractice claim. Some of the most common include:
- Birth injuries and pregnancy complications
- Brain injuries
- Dialysis related injury or death
- Emergency room treatment that results in injury or death
- Medication, prescription, and pharmacy miscalculations
- Nursing errors
- Spinal cord injuries
- Surgical mistakes and complications
In Alabama, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and falls due to the negligence of medical professionals are also considered medical malpractice cases. Over 250,000 people die yearly due to medical malpractice which makes it the third leading cause of death in the country.
Who Can Be Sued in a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Medical malpractice lawsuits can be made against the following healthcare facilities and providers:
- ambulance service
- nursing home
Physicians (medical doctors) lead the way in the number of medical malpractice suits with over 85,000 claims from 2009-2018. Dentists were a distant second with 14,510 reports within that timeframe.
Research conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine determined that 99% of physicians have, at minimum, one malpractice lawsuit by the age of 65.
How Common is Medical Malpractice?
- Roughly 12,414 cases of medical malpractice were reported annually from 2009-2018.
- Records from the Rand Corporation show the typical physician may devote around 10% of their career to litigation.
- The average payout amount from 2009-2018 was roughly $309,908. A total of $38.5 billion has been paid to medical malpractice victims in the U.S. since 2009.
- Alabama lawsuits accounted for approximately 274 million of the overall total, placing Alabama 30th out of the 50 states. Alabama does not have a cap on the amount you can receive for damages caused by negligence.
How Does an Alabama Malpractice Lawsuit Work?
Though they are common, malpractice allegations have to be thoroughly examined to determine if there is a viable claim under the law. In addition to a full and sometimes extensive probing of the claim, expert witnesses are also hired to determine the cause and effect of an injury.
After a claim has been made and validated, it may take six months to a year (sometimes longer) for the case to be settled.
It is important to contact a personal injury lawyer soon after you experience negligence or learn that a medical professional’s negligence contributed to your injury or the death of a loved one.
How do I Prove Medical Malpractice in Alabama?
To prove medical negligence you must prove that a medical professional failed at their duty to provide a minimum standard of care. That failure must have caused harm, injury, or death which resulted in financial and/or physical loss.
In each claim, a thorough investigation is conducted to ensure that the allegation made is valid. Though each medical malpractice claim will differ in the specifics, there will always be a thorough examination of the history and medical records, and an expert witness will likely be called upon to provide their professional observations and findings.
How Long Do I Have to Make a Malpractice Claim in Alabama?
Alabama has a two-year statute of limitations in medical malpractice cases from the date of injury. Under certain conditions, when evidence of deception or concealment of the malpractice is uncovered, the limitations can be extended to four years from the date of injury.
I Think I Have A Medical Malpractice Claim. What Do I Do Now?
If you or a loved one have suffered from medical malpractice, please call the medical malpractice lawyers at Siniard, Timberlake & League to schedule a FREE consultation. Our firm has experience representing families and individuals who have been victims of medical malpractice. We can help.