You are in pain, you are suffering, and you suspect that your doctor may be to blame. Could you have a case for medical malpractice? Unfortunately, this is a question that far too many patients in Connecticut and New York are forced to ask.
Medical mistakes are alarmingly common, and the risk of malpractice is a very real concern for patients seeking treatment in all types of doctors’ offices and other medical facilities.
For patients who have concerns about the quality of their medical care, seeking help should be their first priority. This includes seeking medical treatment from a different provider, and it also includes speaking with a medical malpractice attorney.
The costs of suffering an injury, illness, or complication due to a medical error can be exorbitant. You will need an experienced attorney to handle your medical malpractice claim and help you recover the financial compensation you deserve.
5 Key Questions for Determining If You Have a Medical Malpractice Case
While there are numerous factors that go into determining if a patient has a claim (and, if so, how much he or she may be entitled to recover), there are five key questions that will need to be answered in virtually every single case.
If your answer to each of these questions is “Yes,” then you may have a claim for substantial damages:
1. Did Your Provider Commit an Error That a Competent Practitioner Would Not Have Made Under the Circumstances?
Not all adverse outcomes from medical treatment are indicative of errors, although many are. Some of the most common types of medical negligence that result in avoidable harm to patients include:
- Diagnostic errors (i.e., misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, and failure to diagnose)
- Medication errors (i.e., overdose, underdose, incorrect medication, and anesthesia errors)
- Surgical errors (i.e., wrong-side surgery, wrong-site surgery, surgical injuries, and leaving surgical tools or materials in the patient’s body)
- Testing and treatment errors (i.e., failure to order tests, misreading of test results, and administration of inappropriate treatment)
- Counseling errors (i.e., failure to inform patients of risks, failure to read patients’ charts, and failure to obtain informed consent)
- Hospital administration errors (i.e., triage errors, mixing up patients’ records, hiring inexperienced or untrained staff, and understaffing)
Medical malpractice is more than a mistake. To constitute malpractice, the error must violate the standard of care the doctor or other provider owes to the patient.
2. Did Your Healthcare Provider’s Error Violate the Standard of Care?
The Standard of Care in Medical Malpractice Cases requires providers to treat patients with “the level of care, skill, and treatment that, under the relevant circumstances, is recognized as acceptable and appropriate by reasonably prudent similar health care providers.”
If your doctor made a decision that proved to be incorrect, but he or she exercised sound judgment based upon a thorough assessment of all of the information that was available, then his or her mistake may not amount to medical malpractice. On the other hand, if your doctor could and should have made a better decision, then there is a strong chance that you have a claim for just compensation.
3. Were You Harmed as a Result of Your Health Care Provider’s Error?
In addition to proving that your provider violated the medical standard of care, you must also be able to prove that your provider’s mistake caused you harm.
If your current condition is unrelated to your doctor’s mistake, for example, then you may not have a claim for damages. However, if you can clearly show that you are suffering as a direct result of an error that should have been avoided, then you could have a strong claim for medical malpractice.
4. Have You Sought Treatment for the Effects of Medical Malpractice?
Proving that your former health care provider committed malpractice requires evidence, and this evidence generally comes in the form of medical records and testimony from another doctor.
If you have not already seen a new doctor, you should do so promptly. If you have already seen another doctor, you should be sure to follow his or her advice, and you should keep all of your medical records in a file that you can share with your attorney.
5. Do You Still Have Time to File a Claim?
Finally, you need to make sure you still have time to file a claim. Generally speaking, Connecticut’s statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is 2 years. This 2-year period runs “from the date when the injury is first sustained or discovered or in the exercise of reasonable care should have been discovered.”
However, under no circumstances do you have more than 3 years from the date you received treatment to file a claim. This is true regardless of when you discovered (or should have discovered) your health care provider’s error.
There are some exceptions. For example, if your doctor had a continuing duty to warn you about his or her negligence, then you may have more than 3 years to file. But, you do not want to wait any longer than necessary. If you believe you may have a medical malpractice case, we encourage you to contact us right away for a free consultation.
Meanwhile, the statute of limitations in New York for most medical malpractice claims is 2.5 years. Exceptions apply in cases of a failure to diagnose cancer (2 years), where a foreign object is left in a patient (1 year), and wrongful death arising from medical malpractice (2 years). If the patient is a minor when the malpractice occurs, the statute of limitations is 10 years except in the aforementioned cancer misdiagnosis and foreign object cases.
Discuss Your Legal Rights with a Medical Malpractice Lawyer for Free
Medical malpractice claims are complex. Although questions of whether you or a loved one suffered due to a healthcare provider’s error may seem straightforward, the best way to find out if you have a claim is to speak to an experienced medical malpractice attorney.
Ventura Law serves clients in Danbury, Bridgeport, Hartford, Norwalk, and nearby areas of Connecticut, as well as in New York state. Please call (203) 800-8000 for a free review of your case today.