Your Legal Questions Answered.
Answering Your Questions. Protecting Your Legal Rights.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident, you probably have many questions. Below are the answers to many questions faced by accident victims in South Carolina. If you do not see the answer to your question, just call our office or email Shelly directly - [email protected].
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What is a medical malpractice case?
Medical malpractice occurs when a person is injured by the neglect or substandard service provided by a physician or other health care professional, hospital or institution. If you are injured as a result of a preventable error or because of negligent care when you receive medical treatment, you may have a medical mal-practice case.
However, just because you are injured during medical treatment, you do not necessarily have a medical malpractice case that can be won. For example, there are some cases where a person suffers an injury from a complication during the medical treatment, but that complication is considered "normal". An example of this would be infection after a surgery that is considered common risk. If the complication is considered "normal", the injury was not the result of negligence and there is no medical malpractice case that can be won.
Do I have a medical malpractice claim?
In South Carolina, the following must be proven in order to obtain a successful outcome in a medical malpractice claim:
- A significant, persistent personal injury was suffered;
- The health care provider or institution performed at a level of care be-low the accepted standard;
- The injury was a direct result of the substandard level of care provided;
- The medical error that caused your injury must have been preventable and caused by negligence.
If you feel you have been a victim of medical malpractice and have questions, please contact our office at 843-277-6061 or 1-888-690-0211.
What will an attorney do for my medical malpractice case?
Not every medical malpractice case can be won. In addition, medical malpractice cases are quite complex and difficult to prove. In order to determine if you have a medical malpractice case that can be won, most medical malpractice attorneys first gather all relevant medical records from the physician or hospital where the medical malpractice may have occurred. A complete, detailed set of honest statement and facts about the circum-stances leading up to the medical treatment, the possible malpractice, and the events that occurred following the medical error, should also be obtained from the client.
Once the medical records are obtained, they are reviewed and thoroughly examined to determine whether there appears to be enough provable evidence of medical malpractice. If the case looks to be a meritorious one, experts in the appropriate medical field of specialty must be consulted and ultimately retained in the case.
Will an expert be consulted about my medical malpractice case?
If your case looks to be a meritorious one, experts in the appropriate medical field of specialty must be consulted and ultimately retained in the case. A medical malpractice case cannot be won without a medical expert. A good expert who is willing to testify can be hard to find, but it is an essential aspect of proving a medical malpractice case. Often times, because local doctors can be reluctant to testify against doctors in their own state, with whom they may have a pro-fessional relationship, experts may be contacted that are located out of state. Most experienced medical malpractice lawyers will know how to locate and contact the right expert for your case. The expert will review the medical records and determine whether, in his medical opinion, a standard of care was violated.
When is a standard of care violated in a medical malpractice case?
A standard of care is violated when, based upon the facts that were known or should have been known at the time you were treated, the doctor, nurse, or other medical personnel, failed to follow the standard practice of other physicians, nurses, or other medical personnel with the same education, training and experience as the doctor, nurse, or other medical personnel involved in your case.
What damages are awarded in a medical malpractice claim?
Damages for a medical malpractice case may include:
- Past, present and future pain and suffering
- Past, present and future loss of income
- Past, present and future expenses for doctor bills, medications, or other equipment
- Loss of the companionship, society, and/or sexual relationship of a spouse, which would include such things as the ability to keep house, perform yard work, repair the car, etc.
- The loss of the enjoyment of life, or an inability to do or enjoy rec-reational activities
- Past, present, and future mental anguish and suffering
- Any permanent disfigurement or impairment which you may have suffered as a result of the malpractice
It is very important that you keep track of your medical expenses, including all records of any bills for doctors, medications, crutches, wheelchairs, spe-cial beds, special clothing or shoes, or any other item which the doctor rec-ommends that you purchase or use. You should also keep track of the number of visits to your physician and the mileage for these visits.
How long do I have to file my medical malpractice claim? What is the statute of limitations?
In South Carolina, most medical malpractice personal injury lawsuits are generally subject to a three year statute of limitations. However, there may be exceptions depending on the circumstances. For example, the statute of limitations is different for negligence suits against a South Carolina state government agency pursuant to the South Carolina Tort Claims Act ("TCA") and the federal government pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"). In these cases, a lawsuit must generally be filed within two years, unless certain steps are taken which will extend the time for filing.
It is extremely important to consult with an experienced medical malprac-tice attorney promptly, so that he or she can evaluate the viability of your potential medical malpractice claim and most importantly, the statute of limitations for filing your lawsuit.
What should I bring when I meet with the attorney about my medical malpractice claim?
Here are some of the recommended items that will assist an attorney in evaluating your case:
- Medical records – Medical malpractice claims center around the medi-cal care received. It is essential to provide the attorney with all relevant medical records in your possession. Treatment history, results, reports, prognoses, prescriptions, hospital records, etc. will all be useful.
- Contact information – In addition to basic contact information for your-self, it is recommended that you gather contact information for the doc-tors , hospitals, and any individuals who may be called upon as witnesses or to provide further information.
- Timeline of services received – Many times, malpractice can occur over time. It is helpful to provide a timeline of all medical treatment and services leading up to and following the medical malpractice. Make a list with the date of symptoms, the actions taken per date, the doctor visits per date, follow-up procedures per date, injuries noticed per date, etc.
- Medical Bills & Prescription Costs – Provide the attorney with a detailed record of all medical expenses related to your case. Gather medical bills you have received as well as receipts for all prescriptions related to your medical treatment and injury.
- Other doctor reports – As malpractice involves procedures below the recommended level of care, it is helpful to provide doctor reports that indi-cate injury specifically related to the subpar performance or procedures previously received.
- Record of injuries - Keep a log of all of your injuries. This may include lost wages, loss of future income, emotional injuries suffered; emotional damage to the rest of your family, inability to enjoy previously enjoyed ac-tivities, dependence on the services of others and more.
Medical malpractice litigation is a lengthy, complex process. Giving as much information about your case to your attorney can help him or her in building your case and attaining the maximum possible compensation you deserve.