A lot of people don’t like to think that their doctor did anything wrong, and they don’t believe that, and to be honest, many doctors make their patients feel that their pain and suffering are just a nature of their condition. So people are somewhat hesitant to blame their doctor for what might have happened, and sometimes that’s why they take a little while before they realize that their condition may warrant filing a Rock Hill medical malpractice claim.
Determining When to Pursue a Claim
Not necessarily but there is a reality to the situation. Any lawsuit, whether there’s medical malpractice lawsuit or not, is an expensive endeavor. Depending on the nature of the claim, we always make a legal and economic determination in that regard, but it doesn’t have to be serious. Of course, from the patient’s point of view, everything is serious, and I look at everything that may come to me. Even though it might be a claim that doesn’t have a very high dollar value, it’s still meaningful for the patient, and whatever we can do to help them resolve that, we will take a serious look at it.
The most common medical errors that occur are medication errors and diagnostic omissions. A claim can also arise from surgical mistakes and any errors and/or omissions directly related to treatment on the patient.
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Components Constituted for a Viable Malpractice Case
You must have a specific act or admission on the part of the healthcare provider who was under a standard of care for healthcare delivery. What “standard of care” means is that by looking at the population of healthcare providers, a vast majority would do something a particular way, and for someone to deviate from that, we call it “deviation from the standard of care,” and that’s usually what amounts to negligence. In order to bring a negligence claim, though, you need to have an expert witness, another healthcare provider who’s willing to testify under oath that the healthcare provider at issue acted below that standard of care and, by acting below that standard of care, caused injury to the patient.
The most vital component that you need then is an expert review. We go through a number of layers of review when I first get an inquiry on a case: I have legal nurse consultants that work for me, and they do the initial review of the records to make a determination of whether a standard of care deviation might have occurred then identify exactly what happened and who the target healthcare provider is. Once we get that accomplished, then we find an expert witness, who has the same specialty as the target healthcare provider; and if this individual tells us under oath that the healthcare provider acted below the standard of care, that’s what creates a valid case. If they tell us they did not act below the standard of care, then there is no valid case. So that’s the threshold that we have to meet to have a viable claim.
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The damages are the same as in any kind of case. We have them classified basically into economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages would be all expenses, including medical expenses that the patient may have incurred additionally because of the malpractice committed, whether they’ve lost time from work, their lost wages, out of pocket expenses and, if it’s a wrongful death case, funeral expenses and costs related to the funeral of the deceased.
The non-economic damages are basically referred to as pain and suffering that the patient may have gone through. Sometimes that’s short-term, and sometimes it’s lifelong. This is also what we call “loss of quality of life” in very severe cases, for instance, if the malpractice resulted in the amputation of a limb so that person now has to live the rest of their life with only one arm or leg. So that’s a significant loss of quality of life, and that would fall under the non-economic damage aspect of the case, as well. So the person is entitled to all damages that are proximately caused by the malpractice.
Statute Of Limitations
Typically, medical malpractice doesn’t differ too much from the standard statute of limitations in any personal injury claim. For instance, in South Carolina, it’s a three-year statute, so three years from the date that the malpractice began or occurred, you’d have three years from that date to file the lawsuit. North Carolina has the same three years, but it’s a little different, though. If the patient were to die and it becomes a wrongful death case, in North Carolina, you only have two years from the date of death. In South Carolina, you still have three years from the date of death to file a lawsuit.