According to the Institute of Medicine, 98,000 patients die every year as a result of preventable medical errors in America, which is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. This number does not include the thousands who are seriously injured.
In 2006, researchers at Harvard University announced the results of a study showing that most medical negligence claims involve real medical errors with serious injuries. They concluded, “portraits of a malpractice system that is stricken with frivolous litigation are overblown.”
Their research showed that most medical negligence claims were meritorious and that 97% of all claims involved actual medical injury and 80% involved physical injuries that resulted in major disability or death. Very few claims without real medical errors were paid.
The bigger problem, however, is patients with honest claims of medical malpractice who choose not to file a claim and receive no compensation. Most people who have been injured as a result of medical negligence will go uncompensated for their losses.
The real crisis is that most medical errors go uncompensated. The real cost of providing long-term care or compensation is ultimately shifted to innocent victims and their families, or to taxpayers as a result of long-term payments made through Medicare or Medicaid.
Every day, our medical malpractice attorneys receive calls from people who have been injured, or whose loved ones have been injured or even died. We hear stories nearly every day of doctors and nurses who were unwilling to answer questions about what happened and why. When these patients or their families become sufficiently frustrated, they call an attorney. Usually, they do so, not because they are anxious to sue their healthcare providers, but because they are looking for answers that they have been unable to get on their own.
When they do contact an attorney, they often learn that they are unable to find an attorney to accept their case. The medical malpractice lawyers of Charles G. Monnett III & Associates have the resources and experience to provide important information during this difficult time and to help you with your claim.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice refers to negligence by a healthcare provider in treating a patient. Negligence is the failure of the medical care provider to follow the appropriate standard of care in the medical community in which he or she practices.
Sometimes severe and even fatal complications develop during medical treatment which is not the result of negligence. The law does not permit a patient or their families to recover damages for a complication or bad outcome unless it is the result of negligence.
When negligence results in injury or death, the patient or the patient’s family has a right to recover damages for their loss and harm suffered which is commonly referred to as “tort” law.
The purpose of tort law is two‑fold:
- To compensate someone who has been injured because of the carelessness or negligence of another
- To deter people and corporations from behaving carelessly by holding them responsible for the injuries they cause
Tort law serves to supplement government regulation to ensure that there is an economic deterrent to people and corporations acting irresponsibly. When we hold individuals and corporations legally liable when they behave in an unsafe way toward others, we encourage them to be more responsible citizens which is in the best interest of us all.
What Are the Factors That Go Into Evaluating a Medical Malpractice Case?
There are several criteria a potential claim must meet before we are willing to accept any medical negligence case. Those criteria include, but are not limited to:
- The timeliness of the claim
- Strength of the evidence as to any violations of the standard of care
In North Carolina, any case involving medical negligence must be initiated within a certain period of time after the last act of the medical care provider giving rise to the cause of action. Generally, an action for professional negligence which results in an injury must be brought within three years from the date the injury occurs. There are exceptions to this rule. Once the Statute of Limitations has expired, the claim is forever barred.
Strength of Evidence
The second factor concerns whether the medical care provider failed to follow the appropriate standard of care in the medical community in which he or she practices. Sometimes severe and even fatal complications develop during medical treatment which is not the result of negligence. The law does not permit a patient to recover damages for a complication or bad outcome unless it is the result of negligence. There are times when negligence occurs but we are unable to prove it because the medical records do not reflect what actually occurred during surgery or other treatment. In North Carolina, proof of an injury or bad result alone is not enough to prove that the healthcare provider was negligent. The patient has the burden of proving the healthcare provider’s negligence.
Did the act of the medical care provider actually cause injury or harm to the patient? In North Carolina, a patient must prove not only that the healthcare provider was negligent but that their negligence was the cause of the injury or bad outcome.
To prove negligence and causation requires medical testimony from an expert, usually from out of the area. Expert testimony from local physicians willing to review medical records from another physician or testify against other local medical care providers has been nearly impossible to find in North Carolina.
To be successful in any medical negligence claim, expert testimony must be presented. That means that medical doctors must be hired to review medical records and other medical information and advise us whether or not they think the treating healthcare provider failed to comply with the applicable medical standards. Gathering and organizing records, finding doctors to review them, and doing research takes considerable time and effort. Obtaining this testimony requires not only payment to the expert to obtain the initial opinion but also expenses necessary to provide testimony from the expert prior to and during trial.
In addition to the costs of obtaining the Plaintiff’s expert testimony, it is also necessary to take the depositions of experts hired by the Defendants. The Out-of-pocket expense of pursuing even the simplest cases can exceed $25,000. Complicated cases with multiple healthcare providers as Defendants may require the expenditure of well over $100,000.
Not every firm has the resources or experience to handle complicated medical malpractice cases. Charles G. Monnett III & Associates has been successfully helping victims of medical malpractice for over 35 years.
Medical negligence cases are exceedingly difficult to win.
- Juries in North Carolina are very conservative and tend to give the benefit of the doubt to the healthcare providers when there is any uncertainty as to whether they were negligent.
- The medical malpractice laws of North Carolina tend to favor doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers.
- Healthcare providers have a much easier time obtaining highly qualified experts to testify on their behalf.
We have full-time nurses on staff to review new client inquiries to conduct the necessary medical research and locate expert witnesses. If you or someone you know has been injured during medical treatment we would welcome the opportunity to review your situation.
- Allergic Reactions
- Brain Injuries
- Birth Injuries
- Cancer Cases
- Clinical Procedures
- Doctor Errors
- Hospital Errors
- Medication/ Dosage Errors
- Missed Diagnosis
- Plastic Surgery
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Surgical Errors
- Wrong-site Surgery
Healthcare professionals are entrusted to provide proper medical treatment with appropriate standards of care. Unfortunately, negligent or careless actions by some healthcare professionals can make an already difficult situation worse, leading to further injury and even death. If you have been injured by the actions of a medical provider, contact Charles G. Monnett III & Associates today. Call to speak with one of our medical malpractice attorneys for a free consultation regarding your legal rights and options. We are paid only if we win your case.