At Sette Law in Stockton, our medical malpractice attorneys must work with a complex of legal statutes and medical issues to represent clients who have suffered a personal injury. Lawyers must have extensive knowledge in a number of disciplines to prevail in court and prove malpractice. Attorneys need to move seamlessly between legal precedents, varying state laws and knowledge of medical procedures and medical regulations. It’s clearly a challenge for any lawyer to specialize in the realm of medical malpractice.
Attorneys Must Satisfy Four Requirements to pursue Malpractice
Personal injury lawyers must first affirm that a plaintiff did, in fact, have a mutual physician-patient relationship. Most often this is the simplest precept for malpractice attorneys to satisfy. A ‘grey area’ that complicates the issue might arise when it’s a consulting doctor who is being accused of medical malpractice. Attorneys defending the consulting doctor may claim that, because their client had no direct, personal link to the plaintiff’s treatment, he or she does not bear responsibility for the personal injury. Lawyers will also watch out for malpractice claims based on hearsay or third party reports. For example, a treatment suggestion from a physician to another party, overheard by a would-be plaintiff, would not meet the criteria set forth on the doctor-client relationship. A medical malpractice lawyer could be fairly certain the court would decline to hear such a malpractice claim, despite the severity of personal injury suffered.
Attorneys will next have to determine that a physician was negligent in providing the treatment that caused the injury. Stockton malpractice lawyers agree that this aspect is one of the most difficult to establish in a personal injury claim. Attorneys will need to provide evidence that a competent doctor, under similar circumstances, would not have caused a plaintiff’s personal injury. And, lawyers are quick to point out that the assessment of a physician’s relative skills may be irrelevant to the claim of malpractice. Our attorneys know that a doctor only has to show that “reasonable skill and care” were delivered to the patient who claims a personal injury. So, lawyers need not prove a doctor is excellent or substandard, but rather that another competent physician would have achieved a different outcome that would not have caused an injury. Attorneys add that this question becomes even more complicated in the arena of specialty medicine where a physician’s intensive training and education engender a higher expectations of quality care. Our Stockton malpractice attorneys know that this aspect of a malpractice suit can be both time consuming and costly, in part, because expert witnesses will likely be required to testify about the defendant and the personal injury.
Thirdly, lawyers have to demonstrate that there is a clear relationship between a defendant physician’s negligence and the plaintiff’s personal injury. Attorneys have to deal with issues such as existing medical conditions that existed before the alleged malpractice. Our lawyers have experience in cases in which a family member suffering from late stage cancer, died during surgery. When family members file a wrongful death suit, their Stockton injury attorney must prove the death was unrelated to the disease and, instead, caused by a physician’s malpractice. Lawyers, in such cases, will need to have command of multiple issues – medical, legal and ethical – for the court to accept the direct relationship between a physician’s negligence and the death or personal injury.
Attorneys must then approach the fourth requirement for a successful lawsuit for medical malpractice. Our Stockton malpractice lawyers will establish for the court a direct relationship between the physician’s actions as the cause of the personal injury. Attorneys will seek to demonstrate there was physical harm that resulted in pain, suffering and economic losses. Our Stockton malpractice lawyers will itemize the plaintiff’s lost earnings and the costs of related medical care due to the personal injury. Lawyers, at the same time, will underscore the argument that the defendant physician delivered care that was well below medical standards, reaching the level of verifiable negligence. Our Stockton malpractice lawyers reiterate that, without the determination of negligence or proof of injury and harm, the court will decline to consider the allegation of medical malpractice.
According to Stockton malpractice lawyers, there are many kinds of personal injury cases that result in a determination of malpractice. Our attorneys point to cases in which surgeons have left medical sponges inside body cavities; physicians prescribing medications without proper notice of possible side effects, and physicians making erroneous diagnoses – all leading to grave and costly personal injury.
Attorneys advise that Compensation may be limited by State Law
Stockton malpractice attorneys must work within the bounds of California’s 40-year-old Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) that limits the amount of non-economic damages to $250,000 for medical personal injury. Attorneys explain this applies to compensation for pain and suffering, emotional and psychological injury, and other non-quantifiable damages like loss of enjoyment of life. These results can’t be measured and quantified, and thus are subject to the MICRA cap. Stockton personal injury attorneys further comment that the $250,000 award has not kept up with inflation over the past four decades. Malpractice lawyers and victims of malpractice in California have repeatedly attempted to raise the cap through legislation but, thus far, have failed to do so.
Awards on quantifiable injuries, our Stockton malpractice attorneys explain, are not subject to such limits. These costs include past and future medical care, and the amount of earnings a victim faces to lose as a result of the personal injury. Lawyers at Sette Law in Stockton, and throughout the state, generally support the updating of MICRA to reflect the current and future state of the economy, so that victims of medical malpractice may be fully compensated for their losses.
Stockton medical malpractice lawyers at Sette Law recognize the complexity of their chosen area of legal expertise. Personal injury attorneys facing the many high bars in medical malpractice feel a heightened sense of responsibility to people injured through medical malpractice. Our lawyers are aware it would be nearly impossible for a layperson to navigate the malpractice system. Attorneys formally study for many years and then practice for several more to develop the kind of broad and deep legal expertise required in the field of medical malpractice. Our lawyers also know that the need to monitor legal outcomes, state statutes and nationwide decisions is an ongoing commitment. Stockton medical malpractice attorneys must dedicate themselves to lifelong learning and vigilance.