Do I Have A Hospital Negligence Claim?
Mistakes made in a hospital can impact your life permanently. Errors can result in serious injury, illness, and, in some cases, could be fatal. We all depend on hospital staff members to make the right decisions when administering care to someone who enters an emergency room. When mistakes happen, someone should be held accountable. To learn more about your claim speaking with an experienced medical malpractice attorney can walk you through the legal process.
How Do I Prove Hospital Negligence?
The first challenge an injured person or their family has to overcome is proving the hospital was negligent when caring for them. There are specific criteria for establishing negligence in a hospital setting, which include:
- Violation of duty of care – there are specific requirements that a medical facility must meet to ensure that each patient receives proper treatment when they seek medical care. When a hospital fails to provide a reasonable level of care, it violates the duty of care to patients.
- Illness or injury caused by violation of the duty of care – if you or a loved one suffers a disease or an injury as a result of a breach of the burden of care owed by a hospital, then you have a case for hospital negligence.
- Damages suffered due to injury or illness – damages are often considered in total. They include the inability to work because of a disease or injury, a lost life, or a dramatically altered life due to the injury or illness.
If you believe you were injured or suffered an illness due to negligence, you need to contact a personal injury attorney who has experience handling medical malpractice cases. Remember, these cases are complicated, and no one should attempt to file a hospital negligence lawsuit without the assistance of an experienced attorney.
Types of Hospital Negligence
Patients who visit a hospital on an emergency basis or inpatient expect dedicated medical professionals to treat them. However, numerous things can go wrong, including:
- Procedural failures – before running tests, administering medication, or performing surgery, medical professionals should review a patient’s chart and verify their identification. When providers do not follow these procedures, the outcomes could be devastating. Surgical procedures performed on the wrong patient, incorrect doses of medications, or failure to identify allergies can result in severe issues for a patient.
- Lack of staff or proper equipment – everyone has to work harder when a hospital is understaffed. This may also lead to staff members working longer shifts and inadequate rest periods, impairing judgment and causing errors in care. If a hospital lacks the proper equipment to treat a medical problem, many problems can occur.
- Mistakes in medical records – whenever a patient is admitted to a hospital, it is imperative their medical records are accurate. Doctors and nurses depend on the information contained in records to ensure the proper treatment. However, if a patient’s records do not include recent changes to their care regimen, medications, or allergies, the outcome can be devastating.
- Improper hiring practices – healthcare professionals have specific licensing requirements. Any violations of licensing requirements require reporting. If a hospital fails to review all staff before hiring correctly, they could be guilty of negligence.
- Poorly trained staff – we all understand it takes time and resources to train new staff members on proper procedures and processes in any workplace. Training is even more important for healthcare staff members because patients’ health depends on staff members receiving the highest possible level of training. Without this training, staff members could make fatal mistakes, which are the hospital’s responsibility.
- Poor communication – accurate and timely communication is imperative in a healthcare setting. Numerous interactions with patients, doctors, family members, and others may require sharing information with others responsible for a patient’s care. Failure to communicate information could result in a severe issue for the patient. The Communication error could also present as a lack of providing the injured with important information regarding when they are expected to get treated?
- Lack of supervision – a lack of oversight with new hires, ensuring complete notes are left inpatient charts, and other failures on the part of a supervisor can result in poor patient outcomes. This type of supervisory failure can cause severe issues, and hospitals can be held accountable for this failure.
- Lack of informed consent – hospitals are required to ensure that patients understand the risks associated with any procedure they will perform on a patient. When the patient is not adequately informed, as indicated by a signed consent form (or lack thereof), the hospital can be held accountable.
When a patient is in a hospital setting, they are entitled to the highest level of care. Any failure on the part of the hospital that results in the patient’s care being less than reasonable can exacerbate their condition or they develop other issues resulting from that failure. Hospitals can and should be held accountable for this type of negligence.
Hospital Negligence Lawsuits Are Complicated
Before filing a lawsuit against a hospital for negligence, you need:
- An affidavit showing
hospital negligence caused a person’s injury or illness.
This type of affidavit must be from a qualified person to state that the negligence occurred at the hospital. It must also indicate a clear set of facts demonstrating that the illness or injury directly resulted from the hospital’s negligence. Since the only person qualified to make such a statement is another medical professional, finding the right professional is essential. This is one of the steps your attorney can handle for you. The medical professional will carefully review the steps taken in the patient’s care, their medical records before and after the negligence occurred, and carefully document what negligent act or acts led up to the illness or injury.
2. You must notify the hospital of your intent to sue.
You must make this notification in writing and the affidavit obtained from the medical professional who verified the injury or illness associated with the negligence claim should accompany it.
3. Allow time for the hospital to respond.
Once your attorney has notified the hospital that you intend to file a hospital negligence lawsuit, they have 90 days to respond. If an offer is made at that time, which is unlikely, your attorney will discuss the terms of the settlement with you and help you decide whether to accept the offer or move forward with the lawsuit.
4. Do not file outside the statute of limitations.
By law, you may only file a hospital negligence lawsuit within two years of the date of the incident, which led up to the injury or illness caused by negligence. The only exception is if the hospital took deliberate steps to conceal the negligent action. If professionals took active steps to hide the illness or injury, the two-year statute of limitations starts upon learning of the patient’s injury or disease. As you can see, the process of holding a hospital accountable is not easy. An attorney who has the experience necessary to pursue these cases can undoubtedly tell you more about this process and inform you about how long it will take to seek compensation.
Insurance Company Contact After Being Informed
The possibility exists that an insurance company may initiate contact with a patient who has suffered an illness or injury after the hospital has informed them of the intent to pursue a lawsuit. Here is what you can expect following their receipt of your purpose:
- Deflection of responsibility – there is a good chance the hospital will attempt to advise you they are not accountable for a patient’s worsening illness or the injury caused by negligence. They may blame the patient, their attending physician, or a third party. This deflection is because they do not want to admit fault, nor do they want to pay a claim. If the insurer contacts you directly, you should always refer them to your hospital negligence lawyer.
- Offer a quick settlement – in some instances, the hospital’s insurer may make a swift settlement offer. This offer is likely less in light of the injury or illness and the level of negligence. This is another way an insurer may be attempting to minimize the patient’s losses. Any offers should be immediately referred to your attorney since they can help you understand what you may be sacrificing if accepted.
- Paperwork flood – you may suddenly receive a stack of paperwork from the insurance company asking you to sign specific documents. While there may be a need for the insurer to access some information about your medical history, this is an attempt to obtain information that can help them. Never sign any documents you receive from an insurance company without reviewing them with your lawyer.
You have rights as a patient if you become ill or suffer an injury because of any medical mistakes. One of those rights is to be taken seriously and ensure that the hospital is held accountable for your losses. Insurance companies representing the responsible party will never consider your best interests. They will likely do everything possible to pay as little as possible for your damages.
Damages You Can Demand in Hospital Negligence Lawsuits
When hospital negligence injures you or a loved one or exacerbates an illness, you may recover certain damages. Some of these include:
- Additional medical bills – because further medical attention may be necessary, the hospital could be liable for the additional medical bills incurred if the treatment required exceeds insurance coverage.
- Lost time from work – if the injury or illness results in time lost from work, the demand for a settlement can include lost wages. If you lose a loved one, the negligence suit would result in a wrongful death case. This would mean that a wrongful death lawyer would handle your case. A wrongful death lawyer would likely include an estimate of future lost wages in the settlement demand.
- Pain and suffering – your lawyer can calculate the pain and suffering associated with the illness or injury and include it in a hospital negligence lawsuit claim. This number is often subjective and, therefore, requires input from experts in the type of injury or illness a patient suffers.
There may be other financial claims that a patient or their surviving family member may be entitled to demand following a hospital’s negligent conduct, resulting in a more severe illness or an injury.
Medical Malpractice Attorneys Protect Patient Rights
Patients who do not get the best care at a hospital because of negligence have rights. The best way to protect those rights is to hire an attorney to work hard to protect your interests. Hospitals will always have a legal team on their side that will fight hard against any hospital negligence claims. This is why you need an advocate who will fight to protect a patient’s rights. Hospitals owe every one of us a certain level of care. The hospital must train each staff member to understand their obligations to patients and provide the tools necessary to do their jobs. When a hospital does not convey the correct information to its staff, it places every patient at risk. If you believe a patient’s care was lacking because of negligence, then you have every right to hold them accountable. When you contact a hospital negligence lawyer for help, they can review your claim, determine the appropriate legal actions, and confront the challenges of proving hospital negligence. Do not wait until it is too late to pursue a hospital negligence case. Doing so could forfeit your right to hold them accountable.