Medical Malpractice

Medical Malpractice Attorneys in White Plains, New York

Professional negligence is a category of law that deals with personal injury claims against certain licensed occupations. When a professional negligence claim involves a healthcare provider, we commonly refer to it as “medical malpractice.” Malpractice does not just apply to doctors; it can also include hospitals, nurses, clinics, and even diagnostic studies.

 

Unlike other types of personal injury cases, medical malpractice claims are subject to special rules that often make it more challenging for victims to bring and win such cases. That is why it is essential to engage a medical malpractice lawyer in White Plains who understands these special rules and can help advise you on the appropriate steps to take when moving forward.

Defining Medical Malpractice

Professional negligence, as the term implies, means there was a negligent act committed while rendering professional services. Proving negligence in a medical context, however, is not the same as, say, a car accident. For instance, if a driver runs a red light and hits someone in an intersection, the average person understands this was negligent conduct. But when it comes to professional negligence, the law often requires expert testimony to help a jury see how the defendant healthcare provider’s actions deviated from the accepted “standard of care” in the defendant’s medical specialty. Furthermore, there must be proof this deviation from the standard of care actually caused the victim’s injuries. A medical malpractice lawyer in White Plains can help you seek compensation and defend your rights.

Medical Malpractice Damages

In any personal injury lawsuit, a successful plaintiff may recover the full amount of their economic damages. This includes out-of-pocket expenses like medical bills, lost wages, and loss of future earning capacity. The victim is also entitled to an award of non-economic damages, which are primarily designed as compensation for their pain and suffering.

In some medical malpractice cases, a jury may also be in a position to award punitive damages. This requires proof beyond mere negligence in providing medical care. Indeed, the plaintiff must show by “clear and convincing evidence” that the defendant engaged in oppression, malice, or fraud.

Time Limits on Filing Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

As with any civil lawsuit, imposes a time limit on filing a claim. This is known as the statute of limitations. The limitations periods for medical malpractice cases follow a somewhat complex set of rules.

Basically, if the victim of medical malpractice was an adult, they must sue the negligent healthcare provider within a short time frame from the date the injury occurred, or within a shorter time after discovering said injury, whichever comes first. If the victim was a minor–i.e., someone under the age of 18–the limitations period may be longer. It is also possible to suspend or “toll” the applicable limitations period in exceptional cases, such as those involving fraud or the presence of a foreign body (like a surgical sponge) inside of the victim.

Given these strict, and often confusing, time limits, it is imperative you consult with a qualified medical malpractice lawyer in White Plains, NY as soon as you suspect you might have a case. Contact Kent Hazzard & Freeman for a FREE consultation today if you would like to know more and speak with a medical malpractice attorney in White Plains.

Medical Malpractice FAQs

Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional or facility fails to provide treatment that meets the accepted standard of care, resulting in injury or death to a patient. This can include errors made by doctors, nurses, dentists, technicians, hospitals, or other healthcare providers. Examples of medical malpractice include misdiagnosis, surgical errors, medication mistakes, birth injuries, and failure to treat.

To establish a medical malpractice claim, it must be proven that the healthcare provider’s negligence directly caused harm to the patient. It’s important to note that not all unfavorable medical outcomes are considered malpractice – there must be a clear deviation from the standard of care that resulted in harm, which a medical malpractice lawyer in White Plains can help you determine.

  • While medical malpractice can take many forms, some of the most common types include:
  • Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis
  • Surgical errors (e.g., wrong-site surgery, leaving instruments inside the patient)
  • Medication errors (incorrect prescriptions, dosages, or administration)
  • Birth injuries
  • Anesthesia errors
  • Failure to treat or delayed treatment
  • Emergency room errors
  • Infections acquired in healthcare settings
  • Radiology mistakes (misreading X-rays, MRIs, or other imaging)
  • Failure to obtain informed consent

 

Each of these types of malpractice can have serious consequences for patients, potentially leading to worsened conditions, additional medical procedures, or even death. If you believe you’ve experienced any of these forms of malpractice, it’s crucial to consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney in White Plains to evaluate your case.

Determining whether you have a valid medical malpractice claim with a medical malpractice lawyer in White Plains involves several factors:

  • Existence of a doctor-patient relationship
  • Proof that the healthcare provider deviated from the standard of care
  • Evidence that this deviation directly caused your injury
  • Demonstration of significant damages resulting from the injury

To establish these elements, you’ll typically need expert medical testimony and thorough documentation of your case. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help evaluate the strength of your claim by reviewing your medical records, consulting with medical experts, and assessing the potential damages. It’s important to note that not all adverse medical outcomes are the result of malpractice – sometimes complications occur despite proper care. A skilled medical malpractice attorney in White Plains can help distinguish between unfortunate outcomes and true instances of negligence.

In New York, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is generally 2.5 years from the date of the alleged malpractice or from the end of continuous treatment for the condition, illness, or injury related to the malpractice. However, there are some exceptions to this rule:

  • For foreign objects left in the body, you have 1 year from the date the object was discovered or should have been discovered.
  • For cancer misdiagnosis cases, you have 2.5 years from the date you knew or should have known about the misdiagnosis, up to 7 years from the date of the alleged malpractice.
  • For cases involving children, the statute of limitations doesn’t begin until the child turns 18, but it cannot extend more than 10 years from the date of the alleged malpractice.

Given these complexities, it’s crucial to consult with a medical malpractice attorney as soon as you suspect malpractice to ensure you don’t miss the filing deadline.

Proving medical malpractice involves establishing four key elements:

  • Duty: You must show that a doctor-patient relationship exists, creating a duty of care.
  • Breach: Demonstrate that the healthcare provider deviated from the accepted standard of care.
  • Causation: Prove that this deviation directly caused your injury.
  • Damages: Show that you suffered significant harm as a result.

To establish these elements, you’ll typically need:

  • Expert medical testimony to define the standard of care and how it was breached
  • Detailed medical records
  • Evidence of your injuries and their impact on your life
  • Documentation of financial losses (medical bills, lost wages, etc.)

An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help gather this evidence, consult with medical experts, and build a strong case on your behalf. Remember, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff in medical malpractice cases, so thorough preparation and expert supports are crucial.

In a medical malpractice case, various parties may be held liable, depending on the circumstances:

  • Doctors, surgeons, and other physicians
  • Nurses and nurse practitioners
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Dentists and orthodontists
  • Pharmacists
  • Hospitals and medical facilities
  • Urgent care centers
  • Nursing homes
  • Medical device manufacturers
  • Pharmaceutical companies

In some cases, multiple parties may share liability. For example, if a surgical error occurs, both the surgeon and the hospital might be held responsible. It’s important to identify all potentially liable parties to ensure full compensation for your injuries. An experienced medical malpractice attorney in White Plains can help investigate your case and determine which parties should be named in your lawsuit. This comprehensive approach can maximize your chances of receiving fair compensation for your damages.

In a successful medical malpractice case, you may be entitled to various types of compensation, including:

  • Medical expenses (past and future)
  • Lost wages and loss of earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Disability or disfigurement
  • Loss of consortium (impact on spousal relationship)
  • Punitive damages (in cases of gross negligence)

The specific types and amounts of compensation will depend on the details of your case, including the severity of your injuries and their impact on your life. Unlike some states, New York does not have a cap on damages in medical malpractice cases, allowing for full compensation based on the evidence presented. An experienced medical malpractice attorney in White Plains can help assess the potential value of your case and fight for maximum compensation on your behalf.

The duration of a medical malpractice case can vary significantly depending on several factors:

  • Complexity of the case
  • Severity of injuries
  • Number of parties involved
  • Willingness of the defendant(s) to negotiate
  • Court schedules and backlogs

On average, medical malpractice cases can take anywhere from 1 to 3 years to resolve, with some complex cases taking even longer. The process typically involves:

  • Initial investigation and case evaluation
  • Filing of the lawsuit
  • Discovery phase (gathering evidence, depositions)
  • Negotiations and potential settlement discussions
  • Trial preparation
  • Trial (if a settlement isn’t reached)
  • Potential appeals

While this timeline may seem long, it’s important to remember that thorough preparation is crucial for building a strong case. Your medical malpractice attorney in White Plains will work to move your case forward as efficiently as possible while ensuring all necessary evidence is gathered and expert opinions are secured.

Informed consent is a crucial aspect of medical treatment that requires healthcare providers to inform patients about:

  • The nature of the proposed treatment or procedure
  • Potential risks and benefits
  • Alternative treatment options
  • Consequences of refusing treatment

Patients must then give their voluntary consent before the treatment can proceed. In the context of medical malpractice, issues with informed consent can arise in two main ways:

  • Failure to obtain informed consent: If a healthcare provider performs a procedure without properly informing the patient of the risks or obtaining their consent, this could be grounds for a malpractice claim.
  • Consent doesn’t negate negligence: Even if a patient gives informed consent, this doesn’t protect the healthcare provider from liability if they perform the procedure negligently.

It’s important to note that signing a consent form doesn’t automatically mean you’ve given informed consent. The healthcare provider must still have a meaningful discussion with you about the treatment. If you believe you weren’t properly informed before a medical procedure, consult with a medical malpractice attorney to evaluate your case.

Yes, you can still file a medical malpractice claim even if you signed a consent form. While consent forms are important legal documents, they do not provide blanket protection for healthcare providers against all forms of negligence. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Consent forms typically cover known risks of a procedure, not negligence.
  • You’re consenting to the procedure being performed competently, not to substandard care.
  • If the healthcare provider deviates from the accepted standard of care and causes harm, you may still have a valid claim.
  • Consent forms don’t cover situations where the wrong procedure is performed or where the procedure goes beyond what was agreed upon.

However, the existence of a signed consent form can complicate a malpractice case. It’s crucial to have an experienced medical malpractice attorney review your case to determine how the consent form might impact your claim and to develop strategies to overcome any challenges it may present.

A certificate of merit is a document required in many states, including New York, when filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. This certificate serves several important purposes:

  • It helps prevent frivolous lawsuits by ensuring that claims have merit before proceeding.
  • It demonstrates that an expert has reviewed the case and believes there’s a reasonable basis for the claim.
  • It can help streamline the legal process by identifying valid claims early on.

In New York, the certificate of merit must be filed within 90 days of filing the lawsuit. It must state that:

  • The attorney has consulted with at least one licensed physician
  • The physician has reviewed the facts of the case
  • Based on this review, there is a reasonable basis to believe that the defendant(s) acted negligently

If the medical malpractice attorney in White Plains has made three good faith attempts to obtain the consultation but has been unable to do so, they can file an affidavit stating this instead. Failing to file a certificate of merit can result in dismissal of the case, making it a crucial step in the medical malpractice lawsuit process.

Medical experts play a crucial role in medical malpractice cases, providing essential testimony on several key aspects:

  • Standard of care: Experts define what a reasonable, competent healthcare provider would have done in similar circumstances.
  • Breach of standard: They explain how the defendant’s actions deviated from this standard.
  • Causation: Experts link the defendant’s actions to the plaintiff’s injuries.
  • Extent of injuries: They can testify about the severity and long-term impact of the injuries.

Experts are typically healthcare professionals with similar qualifications to the defendant, ensuring they have the necessary expertise to evaluate the case. They review medical records, provide written reports, and may testify in depositions or at trial. Their testimony is often critical in helping judges and juries understand complex medical issues.

Choosing the right expert is crucial for building a strong case. An experienced medical malpractice attorney will have access to a network of qualified experts and know how to effectively use their testimony to support your claim.

While the terms “medical malpractice” and “medical negligence” are often used interchangeably, there are subtle differences:

Medical negligence refers to a healthcare provider’s failure to exercise reasonable care in treating a patient. It’s an act or omission that deviates from the accepted standard of care.

Medical malpractice is the legal claim that arises from medical negligence when it results in harm to the patient. It includes the element of negligence but also requires:

  • A doctor-patient relationship existed
  • The negligence caused an injury
  • The injury led to specific damages

In essence, all medical malpractice involves medical negligence, but not all instances of medical negligence result in malpractice claims. For a successful malpractice claim, you must prove that the negligence directly caused harm and resulted in significant damages.

Understanding this distinction is important when evaluating potential claims. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help determine whether an instance of medical negligence rises to the level of a viable malpractice claim.

Medical malpractice settlements can be structured in several ways, depending on the specifics of the case and the needs of the injured party:

  • Lump sum payment: The entire settlement amount is paid at once. This can be beneficial for covering immediate expenses but requires careful financial planning.
  • Structured settlement: Payments are made over time, often through an annuity. This can provide long-term financial security and potential tax benefits.
  • Combination: A portion is paid as a lump sum, with the remainder structured as periodic payments.

Settlements may include provisions for:

  • Future medical expenses
  • Lost wages and earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Life care plans for severe injuries

The structure of a settlement can have significant implications for taxes, government benefits eligibility, and long-term financial stability. It’s crucial to work with an experienced medical malpractice attorney and potentially a financial advisor to determine the most beneficial settlement structure for your specific situation.

Choosing the right medical malpractice attorney in White Plains is crucial for the success of your case. Here are some steps to help you find the best representation:

  • Look for experience: Seek attorneys who specialize in medical malpractice and have a track record of successful cases.
  • Check credentials: Ensure the attorney is licensed and in good standing with the state bar.
  • Read reviews and testimonials: Look for feedback from previous clients.
  • Schedule consultations: Many attorneys offer free initial consultations. Use this opportunity to ask questions and assess their communication style.
  • Inquire about resources: Medical malpractice cases often require significant resources. Ensure the attorney has access to medical experts and the financial capacity to see your case through.
  • Discuss fees: Most medical malpractice attorneys work on a contingency basis, meaning they only get paid if you win. Understand their fee structure upfront.
  • Trust your instincts: Choose an attorney you feel comfortable with and who you believe will advocate strongly on your behalf.

At Kent Hazzard and Freeman we specialize in medical malpractice cases in White Plains and throughout New York. Our experienced team is dedicated to providing personalized, aggressive representation to help you secure the compensation you deserve. Contact us for a free consultation with a medical malpractice lawyer in White Plains to discuss your case.