Read About Medical Malpractice

Serious Injury Attorney Harrison Green, an exceptional Medical Malpractice lawyer, provides legal representation in Ohio and Indiana for those with serious medical injury caused by medical care which falls below professional standards.

Medical Malpractice lawsuits include mental anguish and/or mental disability caused by the negligence of hospitals, physicians, nurses, other staff members, registered dentist, podiatrist, pharmacists, chiropractors, optometrists or health care institutions.

It is important to quickly contact Medical Malpractice attorney Harrison Green to determine the cause of your serious injury.

What happens if I am injured in the course of medical treatment?

If a medical professional makes an error that results in injury to the patient, the patient may be able to sue the negligent party or parties for monetary damages to compensate him or her for the medical injury. Medical malpractice claims arise when a health care professional or organization provides unskilled or negligent treatment that results in injury to the patient. The underlying basis for a medical malpractice claim is that you sustain an injury as a result of treatment that falls below the accepted standard of medical care for that particular field of professional expertise.

Some examples of medical malpractice include incorrect diagnosis or failure to diagnose, failure to treat, improper treatment, delay in treatment, prescription errors, surgical errors, foreign object left in the body, failure to properly monitor a patient, failure to order necessary tests, birth injuries, rendition of services without informed consent, etc.

How do I know if my injury constitutes medical malpractice?

Medical professionals are not expected to be infallible and there may be poor results from treatment that do not amount to malpractice. Medical professionals are expected to exercise the basic knowledge, skills, and care ordinarily possessed and exercised by other members of the profession acting under similar conditions and circumstances. This basic knowledge and skill is called a standard of practice, or standard of care. When a medical professional treats a patient and fails to use this basic knowledge, skill, and care whether the failure consists of doing something incorrectly, or failing to do something that should be done, that failure is a deviation from the standard of practice or care.

The injured party has the burden of proving that the health care provider negligently failed to meet the applicable professional standard of care for that health care provider. That means the health care provider failed to act as a reasonably prudent health care provider in Ohio would under similar circumstances. Health care providers are judged in comparison with similarly trained and qualified providers of the same class in the same community and in the same field of medical specialization. Likewise, a hospital owes their patients a duty of ordinary care to provide equipment and facilities reasonably suited to the intended uses and such as are in general use in similar hospitals under similar circumstances. The injured patient must then prove that the health care provider’s breach of the standard of care was a proximate cause of the injuries to the patient. In other words, there must be a close connection between the action of the health care provider and the harm to the patient. Finally, you have to show what damages resulted form the alleged mistake. This may include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.

Expert testimony is required in most cases to establish a breach of the prevailing standard of care. Claimants are required to file a certificate of merit including a statement indicating either that the claimant has an expert witness who will attest to the case’s merits or that the case is of such a nature that expert testimony is not necessary. Medical malpractice claims are very difficult to prevail in and are also extremely expensive partly due to the need for qualified expert review and testimony. Whether or not you have a good case depends on the professional judgment of attorneys and medical experts. If you are told that you do not have a case with merit, you should seek another opinion from one or more other attorneys.

Is there a time limit in which I need to file a lawsuit for medical malpractice?

The law requires that you file a lawsuit within a specified period of time depending on the nature of the claim and the entity that caused your injury. This is referred to as the statute of limitations. Failure to file suit within this time frame prevents you from filing suit at all. In some instances, there are various exceptions to the statutes of limitation that may extend or limit the limitation periods. There may be special claims presentation requirements for claims against state and local government. For these reasons, it is important to consult an attorney as early as possible to be sure you don’t miss a crucial deadline.

A medical malpractice action generally must be brought within one year from the date the cause of action accrues. The cause of action accrues when the claimant discovers the injury or reasonably should have discovered the injury, or when the physician-patient relationship for that condition terminates. No action may be brought more than six years after the alleged wrongful act, but if the injury is discovered in the last year of the six-year period, the action may be brought within one year of discovery. When a claimant is a minor, of unsound mind, or imprisoned the limitation period is tolled until the disability is removed.

Who can be held accountable for the medical malpractice?

Generally, a medical malpractice claim can be brought against a licensed health care provider. This can include a person, corporation, facility or institution licensed by the state to provide health care or professional services, or an officer, employee, or agent thereof acting in the course and scope of his employment. A claim can be brought against physicians, dentists, nurses, therapists, technicians, hospitals, and pharmacists, among others. A physician commits medical malpractice if he fails to act in the same manner a reasonably prudent physician in the same field of medicine would act under the same circumstances. Nurses, therapists and other health care providers, and the hospitals or clinics they work for, can be held responsible for their failure to meet accepted standards of care in their particular field. In Ohio, under certain circumstances, a hospital may be held liable for the negligent acts of non-employed physicians.

Does signing a consent form waive my rights to file a lawsuit for medical malpractice?

Signing a consent form in and of itself does not waive your rights. It is possible that the consent form does not contain all of the relevant information that it should or it may have been signed without adequate explanation. Even if you signed a consent form, you did not consent to substandard medical care. A doctor’s failure to meet the acceptable standard of care is not the same as consenting to the normal risks of a procedure.

How much can I expect an attorney to charge to handle a medical malpractice case?

Most attorneys who believe a case has merit will take the case without payment up front. They will take the case on a contingency basis, which means they will receive a percentage of your award if and when you recover for your injuries. Contingency fees average between 25 and 40 percent. Most attorneys charge a smaller percentage if the case is settled before the attorney does all the work necessary to go to trial. If you and your attorney agree to a contingency fee, the attorney must put the agreement in writing and provide you with a signed copy. Some attorneys may charge an hourly fee or a flat fee for their services.

Out of pocket expenses include such things as filing fees, deposition fees, expert witness fees, exhibit costs, copying charges, and other similar expenses. The attorney’s out of pocket costs are, in many cases, not included in the attorney’s fees. You should be sure to pay attention to how an attorney will bill you for costs. In a medical malpractice case, these expenses can be quite high due to the need for expert testimony and because they are hard fought cases, which in many cases do not settle until they have been thoroughly litigated. Many attorneys will decline a case unless there is potential for a substantial verdict or settlement.

What damages can be recovered for medical malpractice?

As a victim of medical malpractice, you can sue for your injuries and all of the direct consequences of those injuries. Actual damages refers to the amount of money it would take to fully compensate you and place you in the same position you would have been in had the injury never taken place. You can recover your actual economic losses such as the costs of reasonable and necessary medical care, rehabilitative services, costs of domestic services, and loss of earnings. The law allows compensation for future medical and care expenses that the claimant can prove will be reasonably necessary to treat the injury caused by the malpractice. The claim may include income the claimant can prove will probably be lost in the future because of the injuries. Loss of earning capacity is also allowed when the patient proves he or she is less able to earn a living as a result of the injuries caused by the malpractice.

You are also entitled to non-economic damages for physical pain and suffering, mental and emotional suffering, physical impairment, inconvenience, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium (disruption of your personal relationship with your spouse), etc. There is no definite standard of calculating reasonable compensation for these types of damages other than being just and reasonable in light of the evidence. Non-economic damages are limited to the greater of $250,000 or three times economic damages up to a maximum of $500,000. For permanent and substantial injuries, the limits increase to the greater of 1,000,000 or $35,000 times the claimant’s remaining life expectancy.

In certain instances, damages may be awarded to families of injured claimants for loss of care, companionship, love and affection. Family members can be compensated for the wrongful death of a loved one. These damages may include medical and burial expenses, loss of income that would have supported the family members, and contributions the deceased would have made in the way of comfort, assistance, advice, protection, companionship, etc.

Punitive damages are intended to punish a defendant and deter others from similar conduct. Punitive damages may be awarded only if the claimant proves that the defendant acted with malice or intent, not just negligence. Punitive damages may not exceed three times the amount of compensatory damages or $100,000. Punitive damage awards against corporate defendant are limited to three times compensatory damages or $250,000. Political subdivisions are immune form liability for punitive damages.

How can I determine how much my claim is worth?

Attorneys are prohibited from promising that they will obtain a certain amount of money for you. For purposes of settlement, a claim is valued upon an estimate of what a jury would likely believe the case to be worth, taking into account the severity of the injury, the effects of the injury on your life and the negligence of the other party. If you were partially at fault for the accident, the amount of damages will be reduced proportionately. Benefits received from some collateral sources may be used to reduce your recoverable economic damages. Any settlement will be reduced if there appears to be a good chance that the claim will not be successful. Other factors that may reduce the damages include past medical history, pre-existing injuries, and prior claims history.

Considerable compensation may be commanded if your injuries are severe requiring extensive medical treatment, absences from work and permanent injuries. This is especially true if you were a healthy, productive, young worker prior to the accident. That is because an important factor in the value of your claim is the difference between your quality of life before the accident as compared to after the accident.

Personal Injury

Who is responsible when a person is injured?

The law of personal injury is concerned with determining who may be responsible for your injuries and how much they should be required to pay for your damages. Personal injury is part of the law of torts, the legal term that includes many types of injuries to people and their property. Every tort claim must include four basic elements including duty, breach of duty, damages, and proximate cause. The defendant must have a legal duty toward the plaintiff. The defendant must have violated that legal duty. The plaintiff must have suffered some harm for which the law allows an award of monetary damages. The defendant’s breach of a legal duty must be related to the plaintiff’s injury closely enough to be considered a proximate cause of the injury.

There are a number of principles that apply to the law of torts and personal injury. These principles recognize degrees of fault on the part of the person who causes the injury. In general, the degrees of fault can be described as negligence, intentional fault, and strict liability.

The term negligence is essential to tort law. Everyone is expected to take normal ordinary care to ensure that their action or the actions of others under their control, do not cause anyone harm. If they fall below that standard, and someone is injured or their property damaged, then they become negligent. Negligence does not mean that the person deliberately intended to cause harm; it only means that they did not take reasonable care or they did not act when any reasonable person would have. The degree of care varies with the circumstances of each case. A plaintiff likewise has a duty to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances on his own behalf.

Strict liability means that one does not have to prove negligence to recover damages. In the case of product liability, the law now holds that you do not have to prove the manufacturer was negligent if someone is injured while using a product. They only have to prove the product was defective when it left the hands of the particular seller and that was the proximate cause of the injuries. A lawsuit can be brought against anyone participating in the chain of manufacture for that product, from the manufacturer, to the designer to the retail store.

An "intentional tort" refers to a personal injury caused by a person who has the intent to cause harm. It may also refer to injury caused by willful or reckless conduct. Intentional torts include assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, libel and slander, etc.

I was injured. Can I file a lawsuit against the party that caused my injury?

In general, when a person is injured as a result of another person’s negligence, the injured party may pursue a claim against the party or parties that caused the injuries. You are entitled to compensation for your injuries if it is found that a defendant was negligent and that such negligence was a cause of your injury. Any personal injury case depends on liability, damages, and whether or not you can collect from the negligent party or parties. Even if you were partially at fault for your injuries, you may be entitled to recover a portion of your damages. Ohio has adopted the doctrine of modified comparative fault which means a claimant’s contributory negligence will not bar recovery unless it is greater than the combined negligence of all other persons. A claimant’s recoverable damages will be reduced in proportion to his percentage of negligence.

Personal injury law attempts to cover all areas and types of injuries suffered by individuals. Some of the most common areas are automobile accidents, premises liability, medical malpractice, and product liability, among others. Whether or not you are entitled to compensation may depend on the type of accident that caused the injury.

Automobile Accidents

Ohio operates on a "fault" system, which determines liability based on a showing that one party was at fault because of negligence, which caused the accident. In other words, if the other driver is to blame for the accident, you can collect damages, and vice versa. Generally, people who operate motor vehicles must exercise reasonable care under the circumstances. Failure to use reasonable care is the basis for most lawsuits for damages caused by an automobile accident. In these cases, proof of fault is often contested and requires thorough investigation. A driver may also be liable for an accident caused by intentional or reckless conduct. A reckless driver is one who drives unsafely, with willful disregard for the probability that the driving may cause an accident.

The other driver’s insurance company is the liability carrier and will pay you, as a victim of the other driver’s negligence, for your out of pocket damages and pain and suffering. The mandatory minimum liability coverage in Ohio is $12,500 per person and $25,000 per accident for personal injury, and $7,500 for property damage. If the person who caused your injury has automobile liability insurance, an insurance adjuster will gather the pertinent records including medical records, medical bills, wage loss verification and the like in an effort to verify your damages. The insurance company may make you an offer to settle the claim. You may find the offer acceptable and once you accept it, the claim process is over. If you do not receive an acceptable offer, you can proceed with filing a lawsuit. Lawsuits are generally filed when negotiations fail. If you file a lawsuit against a negligent driver, your attorney will need to prove that the other party was negligent and that the other party’s negligence caused injuries that resulted in compensable damages. Be careful when dealing with the other party’s insurance company because they may try to rush you into a settlement before you can adequately evaluate the extent of your damages.

If you are in an automobile accident with an uninsured driver who is at fault, the uninsured motorist provisions of your own policy will apply if you purchased such coverage. This coverage would also apply if you were hit by a “hit and run” driver. This insurance acts just like the insurance the uninsured driver should have had. Underinsured motorist coverage picks up where the liability coverage of the other driver leaves off. If your personal injuries exceed the amount of the other driver’s liability insurance, your underinsured motorist insurance covers the excess damages under current law.

Premises Liability

If you were injured at someone else’s home or a commercial establishment, the person or entity responsible for the premises may be found liable. This can cover a variety of situations including slip and falls, dog bites, assaults, among others. The person liable for your damages is the party in control of the property. That party is responsible for the care, maintenance and inspection of the property. For example, an owner may not be the responsible party if he or she has leased the property to another party who actually has control over the premises. The responsible party must pay for damages if the injured party proves that (1) the condition of the property was dangerous; (2) the owner knew, or should have known, about the dangerous condition; and (3) the owner had a reasonable opportunity to correct or warn of the condition, which was not reasonably open and obvious to the injured party at the time of the accident.

In general, it is the duty of an owner to exercise reasonable care in the maintenance of the premises. He must warn a visitor of any dangerous conditions that are known, or should be known to him, if the conditions are not likely to be perceived by the visitor and to repair the conditions within a reasonable time frame. Factors used to determine whether the owner exercised reasonable care in maintaining the property includes (a) the foreseeability of harm to others; (b) the magnitude of the risks of injury to others if the property is kept in its current condition; (c) the benefit to an individual or to society of maintaining the property in its current condition; and (d) the cost and inconvenience of providing adequate protection.

The owner or operator of the property must have notice of the defect or circumstances that caused your injury prior to the injury having occurred. The notice can either be actual notice or implied notice, meaning the owner knew or should have known of the dangerous condition given all of the surrounding facts and circumstances. When the owner actually created the dangerous condition, then notice may be presumed. If a hazard cannot be eliminated, the owner has a duty to warn of the hazards he is aware of or should be aware of.

The duty of a possessor of land to the injured person may vary depending on the status of the person at the time of the injury. Business owners typically have the highest responsibility to those who are invited onto their premises. Homeowners also have a duty to their guests. The standard of care owed to an adult trespasser is less than that owed to a person who has permission to be on the property. An owner may be liable, however, if he maintains a condition that causes injury to a trespassing child.

Product Liability

Product Liability deals with recoveries for personal injury or property damage resulting from the use of a product. Product liability cases may involve dangerous toys, automobile design, seat belt failures, improperly designed household products, industrial machinery, products causing explosions or burns, aviation products, medical devices, prescription or over the counter drugs, among others. A lawsuit can be brought against anyone participating in the chain of manufacture for that product, from the manufacturer, to the designer to the retail store. When a company designs and manufactures a product, they have a responsibility to ensure that anyone exercising reasonable care within the expected parameters of usage expected for the product will not be injured. An action can be based on negligence, breach of implied or express warranty, or strict liability.

Under a negligence theory, the claimant must prove the elements of duty, breach of duty, damages, and proximate cause. As for the breach of warranty theory, a warranty is like a promise. An implied warranty exists whether or not you have a written "warranty". An implied warranty of merchantability means that the product sold conforms to the ordinary standards of care and are comparable to similar goods sold under similar circumstances. An implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose exists when the retailer, distributor, or manufacturer has reason to know the particular purpose for which the goods are required, and that the buyer is relying on the skill and judgment of the seller to select and furnish suitable goods. If the warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose are breached, or the promise is broken, then the manufacturer, distributor, and/or seller of the product are liable or responsible for the consequences.

Under the newest theory of strict liability, you do not have to prove the manufacturer or designer was negligent. You must show that the product was defective and unreasonably dangerous; the product was defective when it left the manufacturer; and the defect caused the injury. In general, a product is unreasonably dangerous or defective if it fails to perform in a manner reasonably to be expected in light of its nature and intended function. There are three basic types of defects. First, a product may contain a manufacturing flaw. A manufacturing defect occurs when a product is not assembled or built correctly. Second, the product may be defectively designed. Design defects are present when hazards posed by the product are so great as to outweigh the product’s usefulness. In most cases, it is necessary to establish that these hazards can be eliminated through the use of an alternative design. Third, the product may not have adequate warnings, directions, or instructions.

There may be no recovery of damages in a product liability action unless the damage occurs within fifteen years of the date of initial purchase. Be aware that there are other limits to product liability law such as when the consumer was careless in using the product, when the defective condition was obvious, or when the product was altered.