Massachusetts Medical Malpractice FAQs:
1. What is medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, nurse or other healthcare provider fails to provide a minimum standard of care to a patient, causing injury or death that could have been prevented.
2. Who can be sued for medical malpractice?
All kind of healthcare providers can be sued for malpractice, including: medical doctors, registered nurses, dentists, anesthesiologists, pharmacists and chiropractors. Hospitals, clinics and other medical institutions may also sometimes be held liable for medical malpractice.
3. What kind of conduct or behavior constitutes medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice can take many forms, including:
- Failing to diagnose an illness or condition
- Failing to read or interpret a test result correctly
- Failing to communicate properly with the other treating doctors and medical providers
- Prescribing the wrong dosage of medication or the wrong medication altogether
- Inadequately treating a condition
- Mixing up test results
- Leaving a foreign object inside the body
- Failing to properly monitor a patient while undergoing surgery
- Failure to warn patient of certain risks
4. What do I have to prove to win a medical malpractice case?
You need to prove the existence of four conditions. First, you must show that the medical provider owed a duty of care to the patient. Second, you must show that the medical provider breached this duty by acting negligently. Third, you must prove that the medical provider’s negligent actions caused the patient an injury. Finally, you must prove that the injury suffered led to specific compensable damages, such as physical pain, mental anguish, additional medical bills, or lost work/earnings.
5. What kind of evidence do I need to prove medical malpractice?
While it may vary depending on your particular case, you usually need three pieces of evidence to prove medical malpractice: (i) all of the patient’s relevant medical records, (ii) the sworn testimony of witnesses to the malpractice (including the defendant medical provider), and (iii) expert witness testimony. An expert witness is a medical expert who can inform a judge or jury what a reasonable medical provider would have done under similar circumstances and explain why the defendant medical provider did not act according to appropriate medical standards.
Gathering evidence in a medical malpractice case can be a challenge, but an experienced Massachusetts medical malpractice lawyer will know how to obtain the right evidence needed to prove your case.
6. What kind of damages can be recovered from a medical malpractice case?
As with any personal injury case, you might be able to obtain compensation for:
- medical bills (past and future) arising from the malpractice
- pain and suffering
- lost wages
- loss of ability to earn in the future
- mental anguish
- past and future care-taking expenses
- scarring or disfigurement
- diminished quality of life
- loss of consortium
The actual types of damages available depend on the facts and circumstances of each case.
7. How long does it take to pursue a medical malpractice claim?
Medical malpractice claims are inevitably complex cases, necessitating a painstaking investigation. It can take many months just to collect and analyze the evidence, discover all the appropriate witnesses, and consult with experts. Most medical malpractice cases are therefore unlikely to be resolved rapidly. You may expect that it will take at least a year to resolve the claim, but it often takes longer. Your Massachusetts medical malpractice lawyer will be able to give you a more accurate estimate after hearing the particulars of your case.
8. How long do I have to file a medical malpractice claim?
In Massachusetts, medical malpractice claims generally must be filed within 3 years of when the patient first learned (or should have reasonably learned) that he or she has been harmed as a result of the medical provider’s negligence.
Nonetheless, if you think you’ve been a victim of medical malpractice, you should not delay in filing a claim. The longer you wait to file a lawsuit, the more difficult it becomes to prove that your injury was caused by medical malpractice. Over time, crucial evidence tends to get lost or misplaced and witnesses forget important details, or become unavailable.
9. When should I contact a Massachusetts medical malpractice attorney?
You should contact an attorney as soon as you suspect you’ve been a victim of medical malpractice. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can assess whether your case has merit, help you gather evidence, and otherwise work to build a strong case. If you’re still under treatment, a lawyer can also help and advise so that you receive the high-quality care that you need.
10. What are the attorney’s fees and costs involved in pursuing a medical malpractice claim?
Almost all personal injury lawyers, including Attorney Peter Ventura, accept cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that you only pay a fee if the lawyer wins your case. As payment, the lawyer will take a percentage of what he or she has recovered for you through settlement or at trial. The percentages in a medical malpractice case are regulated by state statute and involve a range of percentages depending upon the amount of compensation obtained. All medical malpractice cases involved litigation costs including, for example, filing fees, deposition costs, and expert witness charges. These costs are advanced by the lawyer and not the client. Any such costs will be deducted from the ultimate case settlement or judgment.
11. What kind of damages might I receive if I file a medical malpractice claim?
You may be entitled to economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those financial losses that you have suffered as a result of your malpractice injury. These include past and future medical expenses (including hospitalization, prescriptions, special treatments, etc.), loss of income or earning capacity, the cost of hiring extra household help during your incapacitation, and other financial expenditure arising from the injury.
Non-economic damages are those which compensate for intangible harms, and are not easily quantified by a dollar amount. These include pain and suffering, mental anguish, physical impairment or disability, and loss of enjoyment of life.
If you believe you have been the victim of medical malpractice, contact Massachusetts medical malpractice attorney Peter Ventura for a free consultation today. Call 508-755-7535, or contact us on online.