We trust doctors to be highly skilled. They are responsible for giving us treatment that could be the difference between life and death. Unfortunately, even doctors are negligent sometimes, and the consequences of this could be dire.
If you or a loved one have been injured or killed by medical malpractice, you may be entitled to financial compensation. When you need a skilled Columbia personal injury lawyer , contact Shelly Leeke Law Firm for a free consultation.
Definition of Medical Malpractice
“Medical malpractice” is just a legal term meaning negligence by a licensed medical professional. Negligence occurs when a defendant’s conduct meets four elements. These elements are:
- Duty– The defendant had a legal duty to act a certain way. Medical professionals are considered fiduciaries of their patients, meaning that they have a legal duty to act reasonably in their patients’ best interests.
- Breach– This is where the “negligence” occurs. This element is met if the defendant does not act in the way they are required to act.
- Damages– This element is met if the plaintiff has suffered harm. This element is very easy to prove in medical malpractice cases, so the litigation tends to revolve around one of the other elements.
- Proximate Causation– Proximate cause means that the injury is sufficiently related to the plaintiff’s injuries and that the plaintiff’s injuries were foreseeable by the defendant.
Some actions by medical professionals are considered negligent per se, meaning that the action is essentially automatically considered to have met the “breach” element. This typically occurs if the medical professional violates some law or regulation.
Other actions are automatically considered negligence by the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, which means “the thing speaks for itself.” This means that a specific action is so unlikely to happen without negligence that the occurrence of the action implies negligence. An example is a surgeon leaving a piece of medical equipment inside their patient after closing them.
Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Claims in Columbia
The statute of limitations is a deadline when you must bring your case. The statute of limitations begins to run when you discover that you are injured.
In South Carolina, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases is 3 years. You must file your lawsuit within 3 years of discovering your injury. In most cases, this “discovery” will happen on the same day you are injured.
Your medical malpractice lawyer in Columbia will assist you in determining the statute of limitations for your claim. You need the assistance of a passionate and dedicated lawyer to help protect your rights and get you the compensation you deserve.
Requirements for Bringing a Medical Malpractice case
South Carolina law places certain additional limits on medical malpractice cases that are important to know about. You need to follow certain processes to ensure that your case will be legally valid.
Before your case, you must give notice to the doctor, hospital, doctor’s office, or other entity that you plan on suing them. This notice must also include interrogatories (questions to the other party) that the doctor must answer under oath. This is because you are required to have a sworn statement from a medical expert supporting your lawsuit, and the answers to these questions will assist that expert.
After you file your case, you are also required to participate in alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) before your case goes to trial. ADR includes arbitration and mediation. Both are far cheaper than a courtroom trial and exist to promote settling the case. Your medical malpractice attorney in Columbia will still be able to assist you during ADR.
Damages Available in Medical Malpractice cases
When you are injured by the medical malpractice of a professional, you could be entitled to financial compensation. This compensation is known as damages and is divided into two categories: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages include things like your medical bills, your lost wages, and your lost future income if you die. Typically, a chart is used to determine your life expectancy or medical treatment costs. Non-economic damages include things like pain and suffering, loss of consortium, loss of companionship, or loss of enjoyment of life and are awarded solely at the jury’s discretion.
In very exceptional cases, where the doctor was grossly negligent, you may be entitled to punitive damages. Gross negligence is when the conduct is so improper that it exceeds standard negligence.
Punitive damages are additional damages meant to punish conduct. Your Columbia medical malpractice lawyer will help you put together your damages to present to the court.
Types of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice cases usually fall into one of three general categories:
- Failure to Diagnose– This is when you are harmed because your doctor negligently failed to properly diagnose an illness of yours, causing you to miss valuable treatment time and injuring you.
- Failure to Treat– This is when you are harmed because your doctor negligently failed to properly treat you, such as by ordering the wrong tests or medicines or the wrong amount of medication.
- Failure to Obtain Consent– Doctors are required to obtain your consent before performing medical procedures on you, except in very limited circumstances. If you do not consent, and a doctor performs a medical procedure on you that you did not want, the doctor has technically committed assault and battery.
Your Columbia medical malpractice attorney has experience in all types of medical malpractice cases and can help you get the compensation you deserve.
Contact a Columbia Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you or a loved one are injured by the medical malpractice of a medical professional, you might be entitled to financial compensation. Do not try to fight businesses or their teams of lawyers alone. Enlist the help of a skilled, compassionate, and driven medical malpractice attorney in Columbia.
Contact Shelly Leeke Law Firm for a free consultation.