What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?
Malpractice is a situation where a professional failed to perform their job in a way that is considered to be reasonable. A medical professional who fails to uphold the expected standard of care may have committed malpractice. This does not mean that anyone who suffers from an undesirable outcome can easily undertake a malpractice claim. Medical malpractice cases successfully recover compensation when the injured party can show that the medical professional acted negligently and therefore failed to provide the level of care that could reasonably be expected.
No two malpractice cases are the same, but they all involve situations where the professional committed a negligent act or made a negligent omission. This can involve issues in surgery, prescribing wrong drugs, or misdiagnosing a patient. Our malpractice lawyers have experience helping many victims in cases involving:
- Birth Injuries
- Physician Error
- Misdiagnosis/Failure to Diagnose
- Dental Malpractice
- Medication Error
- Anesthesia Error
- Unnecessary Surgery
Compensation Caps For A Malpractice Claim
North Carolina law limits the amount of financial compensation that a victim of medical malpractice can recover for certain damages. The purpose of this limitation is to keep doctors’ insurance rates from becoming unmanageable, which might then cause them to leave the state, resulting in possible shortages of medical professionals in certain fields. Fortunately, the law is quite flexible, and it does allow for your medical malpractice attorney to recover the compensation that you need for your past and future expenses.
Non-economic damages are capped at $500,000 in each case. These are the damages that consist of things that cannot be assigned an exact dollar figure, and they would include things such as pain and suffering or emotional distress. However, an exception to this rule involves cases where the injury is severe, and the medical professional was particularly negligent. To remove the cap on non-economic damages, it must be shown that the injury is either permanent or involves certain disfigurement and that the professional was grossly negligent or malicious.
State law does not limit the amount of money that you can be awarded for economic damages. These are the damages that can be specifically identified with a dollar figure, and they would include lost wages and medical bills. It is possible that you may need a separate trial for your compensation amount if you are to recover more than $150,000 in economic damages, but the judge may be convinced to combine all factors of your medical malpractice claim into one trial.
Recovering Compensation After Medical Malpractice
A Charlotte medical malpractice attorney can help you determine whether your action is a strong enough case to obtain the necessary damages. The laws and procedure for medical malpractice in North Carolina are highly technical. This is meant to keep your case focused on the details of whether your doctor performed his job negligently, and to avoid holding doctors accountable for complications that arose even though they were reasonable in their work. Given the complexity of these cases, you must have an injury lawyer who is experienced in securing damages on behalf of injured due to improper medical care.
Our attorneys have decades of experience reviewing medical cases and identifying negligence that harmed our clients. We know how to gather and study all relevant evidence including medical exam records, hospital employment information, and expert witness testimony. Successful negotiation with the insurance companies involved can mean that you will be offered a financial settlement that avoids a trial while also providing you and your family with the help that you need. However, we also have extensive trial experience and know how to succeed in court if you do not receive a satisfactory settlement offer.
You can recover compensation for many of the damages you sustained such as:
- Past and future medical costs
- Therapy and rehabilitation
- Lost wages
- Lost future earnings
- Equipment needed to perform daily tasks after your injury
- Emotional distress
- Wrongful death of a loved one
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of inheritance
Act Before The Statute Of Limitations Ends Your Medical Malpractice Claim
Statute of limitations laws limit the amount of time that you have to make a legal claim against someone for damages. This is meant to allow for people to move on from the fear of a suit regarding things that happened long ago. The medical malpractice statute of limitations in North Carolina is three years. However, this law has numerous exceptions which are meant to protect your rights to file a claim no matter what your circumstances may be.
Statute of limitations exceptions to malpractice claims may include:
- Cases Involving Minors – The three-year window generally begins once the child turns 18 years old and not on the date of the injury.
- Foreign Objects Left Inside The Victim – Your claim must be made within one year of the date that you should have reasonably been expected to notice that the doctor left a foreign object inside your body. However, this is limited to 10 years after the procedure, and no action is allowed once this milestone is passed.
- Cases Where The Injury Is Not Clear At First – You have up to one year to file a claim after you discover an injury, or after you reasonably should have discovered it. However, no claims are allowed after four years past the date the injury was caused.
You may feel like several years is a long time, but it’s not in the world of medical malpractice. Your lawyer must seek out significant amounts of evidence and consult with medical experts if you are to win damages. Therefore, do not delay in calling your lawyer, even if you are not yet quite sure about the full ramifications of your medical injury.