A doctor has a “duty of care” to provide for the well-being and health of their patients. When the physician fails to honor this duty of care, it can be considered professional negligence. In order to prove medical malpractice in a court of law, four elements must be present:
- The doctor owed a legal duty of care to the patient
- There was a breach of this legal duty of care
- An injury was sustained by the patient (due to the breach)
- The patient suffered considerable damages, which could be anything from suffering and constant pain to a disability and loss of present or future income.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Doctors, physicians and medical professionals have a duty to communicate information to their patients in a timely manner. They must advise their patients on dangers of drugs, or other reasonable risks that are associated with a procedure or course of treatment. This medical standard of care is sometimes referred to as the “first element” of a medical malpractice lawsuit. That is, it must be present prior to considering legal action.
A recent study by Johns Hopkins University stated that there are more than 250,000 deaths in the United States due to medical errors each year—making it the third leading cause of death. The study notes that the primary cause of medical malpractice isn’t from inherently bad doctors, but rather systemic problems, such as poorly coordinated care, fragmented insurance networks, the absence or underuse of safety nets and other protocols.
Filing a Medical Malpractice Suit in Washington
If you or a loved one was injured or became ill due to the negligence of a doctor, you might be able to file a medical malpractice suit. We highly recommend obtaining a paperwork trail, along with any other evidence you might have to prove your case. Second opinions from other qualified doctors, hospital and insurance records can all be helpful in a court of law.
There are many reasons a medical malpractice suit can be filed, such as:
- Surgical error
- Hospital negligence
- Medication error
- Emergency room errors
There are two types of damages that could be awarded to the plaintiff (you) if the lawsuit is successful:
Compensatory damages can include medical expenses, lost income and economic damages. Past and future losses can be considered in determining a financial number.
Punitive damages can also be awarded, but only if the defendant (doctor) is found guilty of willful or malicious medical misconduct. Punitive damages are intended by the law to be a form of punishment and can be awarded in conjunction with compensatory damages.
Washington Medical Malpractice Attorneys at Herrmann Law Group
At Herrmann Law Group, we have been helping people and delivering results for over 60 years. Our determined and passionate injury attorneys will fight hard for you and your loved ones if faced with medical malpractice. We treat our clients like individuals, making sure that we work closely with you to help you get the justice that you deserve. Schedule a free legal consultation today at Herrmann Law Group for guidance on your medical malpractice case.