Medical malpractice is more common than you might think. If you are injured through the negligence of a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional, you have the right to be compensated for the injuries and losses they cause. Hospitals and medical facilities can also be held liable for the negligence of their employees. Surviving family members also have a legal claim in cases where medical malpractice leads to a patient’s death.
At Michigan Injury Lawyers, we know how to protect your legal rights in any type of medical malpractice case. Call now for your free initial consultation with one of our experienced Traverse City personal injury attorneys at Michigan Injury Lawyers.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Those who cause injury through their negligence have a legal obligation to compensate their victims for the injuries and losses suffered. This is why car accident victims can sue negligent drivers. Negligence is also the source of slip and fall claims, workplace accident claims, and wrongful death claims.
When medical professionals are negligent, this is known as medical malpractice. While medical malpractice usually refers to negligent doctors, it can also refer to other medical providers, such as surgeons, nurses, and dentists. Because employers are generally liable for negligence committed by their employees while on the job, hospitals and other medical facilities can also be liable for injuries caused by their staff members’ negligence. All of these claims fall under the broad definition of “medical malpractice.”
So how do we know if a doctor was negligent? The law uses a hypothetical standard of the “reasonably prudent” doctor. If a reasonably prudent doctor of similar training and experience would not have treated you the way your doctor did, then your doctor was negligent. To prove this, a plaintiff must present testimony from an expert witness. This expert witness must testify as to what the reasonably prudent doctor would have done, sometimes referred to as the “standard of care,” and must also testify that your doctor did not meet the standard of care.
The law requires the same expert testimony for malpractice claims against nurses, surgeons, dentists, and other medical professionals. The jury is then left to weigh the evidence from the plaintiff’s expert witnesses and the defendant’s expert witnesses to determine whether the standard of care was violated.
Common Medical Mistakes
In medical malpractice cases, our attorneys often see the same types of mistakes made by medical providers.
Here are some of the most common:
- Failure to properly diagnose your condition
- Failure to choose the proper treatment
- Completing an appropriate treatment in a negligent manner (for example, setting a bone incorrectly)
- Medication errors (for example, prescribing the wrong medication, failing to assess your medication allergies correctly, or prescribing too strong or weak of a dosage)
Medical Malpractice as a Result of Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse
As the American population ages, more and more of our elderly loved ones need assisted care. Whether they receive in-home medical services, outpatient treatments, or live in an assisted living facility full time, the services that are rendered must be done in a safe manner. Facilities that allow their staff to neglect or abuse residents must be held accountable for their negligence. This is the only way to prevent other innocent residents from being harmed in the future.
Like other states, Michigan has comprehensive elder abuse laws. These laws established the Elder Abuse Task Force, strengthened criminal penalties for those who abuse vulnerable older adults, and established other important rules and programs that protect our elderly population.
While these laws help to identify abuse and neglect and bring criminal charges against the individuals who perpetrate these crimes, they do not always impose sanctions on the facilities that allow abuse and neglect to occur. This is why victims must enforce their rights and sue the medical facility in the civil court, which also holds the facility itself accountable for the damages that it allowed to occur.
Medical Malpractice That Causes a Wrongful Death
Tragically, medical malpractice can also lead to death. When this happens, surviving family members have the right to sue under Michigan’s wrongful death statutes.
The statutes dictate which relatives have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit:
- The deceased’s spouse, children, descendants, parents, grandparents, brothers, and sisters.
- Persons who are beneficiaries of the decedent’s will.
- If none of these persons survive the deceased, the right to sue passes to whichever relatives would be entitled to inherit if the decedent dies without a will. (This is known as the rule of “intestate succession.”)
- The children of the deceased’s spouse.
Wrongful death claims are similar to negligence claims, in that the plaintiff must still prove that the defendant’s negligence caused the victim to suffer injuries and losses. But there are also differences in the two claims. In a wrongful death claim, the estate cannot seek compensation for the decedent’s pain and suffering.
Instead, survivors may file a loss of consortium claim, which compensates survivors for the love, care, and companionship of the person who died. A loss of consortium claim is only available to parents, children, and spouses of the decedent. It is important to hire an attorney who is experienced with wrongful death claims, as they are different from medical malpractice claims in which the victim survives.
Call Us Today for a Free Consultation With Our Traverse City Medical Malpractice Lawyers
As you can see, there are many ways in which you can suffer the consequences of medical negligence. Victims need to hold both healthcare providers and medical facilities accountable for the damage they cause. To do so, you must hire a knowledgeable, aggressive attorney who will fight for your legal right to be compensated for the injuries and losses you have suffered.
Our experienced Traverse City medical malpractice attorneys at Michigan Injury Lawyers are highly skilled in handling these complex, technical cases.
Call (231) 649-2720 or write to us using our online contact form for your free initial consultation.