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Medical Malpractice

Professionals entrusted with the responsibility of applying particular skills and knowledge are expected to display the standard of care of a reasonably careful professional in his field. So if a patient suffers an injury because the healthcare professional failed to display the standard of care required by his profession, the injured patient (or his surviving family members or his estate if the injury results in death) can claim compensation for these injuries. Medication errors, misdiagnosis of a medical condition, surgical errors, and performing an unnecessary surgery can all come under this category if certain conditions detailed below are satisfied.

Medical malpractice claims are considered one of the most technical among the different types of personal injury claims. Working with an experienced personal injury attorney helps you overcome the complex technicalities of medical malpractice cases. 

At Oguz Law, our initial step in evaluating a potential medical malpractice case involves a thorough analysis of the facts of the case. Following this, we determine the types of compensation that can be claimed based on the damages suffered. Throughout the entire process, we provide our clients with guidance and support, including gathering medical reports and evidence, managing their claims against insurance companies, and consulting expert witnesses to bolster their case. Our goal is to ensure that our clients receive the best possible outcome for their case.

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    Healthcare Provider Liability in Medical Malpractice

    When we consult a certified physician, we consult that professional primarily because he is trained in that field and has special skills and knowledge. This, of course, shouldn’t mean that every poor outcome that falls below the patient’s expectations is attributable to the professional negligence of the healthcare provider.

    According to California Civil Code 3333.1(2), to establish medical malpractice the following must be shown:

    Duty of Medical Providers – There must be a duty owed to the patient by the medical provider. This duty arises after the medical provider agrees to treat and care for the patient.

    In emergency medical situations, as a matter of public policy, an emergency room with a patient in critical care will have to service the patient unless the emergency room is unable to handle the particular type of problem presented by the patient. (In that case, the hospital might be required to stabilize the patient and then transfer the patient)

    Breach of Duty of Care: Negligence – There must be a negligent act or (omission to act) by a healthcare provider in the rendering of professional services.

    It must be shown that the healthcare provider either through a positive act or omission (failure to act when he was under a duty to act) deviated from the standard of care that a reasonable and prudent doctor would provide under the same or similar circumstances.

    Sometimes in proving negligence, a plaintiff can rely on the legal doctrine of “res ipsa loquitur”.
    It is a Latin term meaning “the thing speaks for itself”. The idea here is that it can rightfully be presumed what caused this result when it is very obvious from the facts.

    So, this doctrine presumes negligence
    when the instruments were exclusively within the defendant’s control and
    the injury is one that normally does not occur without there being negligence.

    The classic example is when the patient wakes up from anesthesia, following an appendectomy, to find that his arm is paralyzed. The distinct injury to the healthy part of the body that is not subject to treatment or with the area covered by the operation raises the inference of negligence. Therefore, in such a case, expert testimony from a physician is not necessary and it is up to the defendant to explain this unusual result.

    Causation of Injury – That act or omission should be the proximate cause of a personal injury or wrongful death.

    It must be further established that the healthcare provider’s negligence caused the injury. This is often difficult because medical care involves certain inherent risks such as the possibility of complications that are beyond the control or foresight of the practitioner. Proving causation in malpractice cases requires, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, to show that the doctor’s conduct was a substantial factor in bringing about the harm the patient suffered.

    Damages – The patient must have suffered actual harm because of the malpractice. This harm can include pain and suffering, medical expenses, loss of income, or other measurable damages.

    There are also two additional issues to consider:
    The services that are provided must be within the scope of services for which the provider is licensed.

    There shouldn’t be any restrictions imposed by the licensing agency or licensed hospital for the provisions of the services concerned.

    The Importance of Distinguishing between Medical Malpractice and General Negligence Claims

    Overall, medical malpractice cases are more complex and technical compared to general negligence and therefore harder to prove. These are the main differences between a case based on medical malpractice and one based on general negligence:

    Since the standard of care is higher for medical malpractice, it is harder to establish and prove that the healthcare provider fell below this high standard.

    Subject matter expert witnesses play a crucial role in establishing the standard of care in medical malpractice. It is almost impossible to prove a breach of standard of care without expert evidence.

    There is a shorter statute of limitations for malpractice claims.

    As we will explain below, there are damage caps for non-economic damages in medical malpractice.

    As mentioned above, it is possible for claims that do not meet the criteria for medical malpractice to be classified as general negligence claims against the healthcare provider.

    Proving that the healthcare professional fell below the standard of care required by that profession and this failure is the proximate cause of the injury suffered by the patient requires effort and diligent case preparation. Considering that the patient is already in pain due to the injuries sustained, the case management stage can become a daunting task. As experienced attorneys in medical malpractice, we are here to guide you through this process. We begin with carefully evaluating your case and collecting facts and reports. We help you find expert witnesses who are respected and renowned in their field and we work together with the experts to prepare a strong case based on science.

    WE WORKED WITH THEM
    I was searching for a malpractice attorney and was fortunate enough to find this amazing team to help me. They were so kind, and I really felt like they were invested in my case. Throughout the process, they were always transparent and quick to answer all my questions. I am forever grateful for their hard work, and I would definitely recommend them.
    Monica M.
    Great experience. I am so thankful I was able to work with a team who genuinely wanted my best interest. If I had any questions, they answered them right away. The result of the case was outstanding, and I would highly recommend them. Thank you, Oguz Law team!
    Zach C.
    Had a great experience with Oguz Law. Very professional team and always available to discuss the case. All of my questions were always answered.
    Rosmely H.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    According to California Code of Civil Procedure, you should give the healthcare provider at least 90 days prior notice including the legal basis for your claim, the type of loss sustained, and specifics about the nature of your injuries before you file a medical malpractice action.

    Yes, you should still give notice of your intention to sue. In that case, the notice can be served within 90 days of the expiration of the statute of limitations and this would extend the statute of limitations by 90 days from the service of the notice.

    The complexity of medical malpractice cases makes it one of the longest claims among personal injury claims. Every case and every injury is unique therefore it is hard to give a certain time frame. However, certain stages should be completed or at least progressed before making and finalizing a claim. For example, if you are suffering from bodily injuries, your treatment should be completed or should progress to calculate your medical expenses and to determine future medical treatments that you might need. Therefore, the duration of medical treatment is an important aspect of the timeline of settlement.

    In terms of attorney fees, as with all personal injury cases, our fees are contingency-based. This means that when the case is resolved the attorney is reimbursed for his or her expenses and paid a percentage of the award or settlement as the fee. So, there are no upfront attorney fees, we don't request payment upfront and we don’t get anything unless we win. However, since medical malpractice cases are very technical and almost always require expert witnesses to prove your claim, you should be prepared to pay for expert witnesses upfront.
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