Indianapolis Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Indianapolis Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals are bound by the law to perform their duties according to the medical standards set by the healthcare community. Whether accidental or otherwise, a medical professional that fails to meet this obligation could lead to a patient’s injury or death.
Any medical professional can be held responsible for negligence, misconduct, or a breach of duty in the performance of a professional service that causes an injury, death, or loss. This negligence is called medical malpractice.
Did you sustain injuries or lose a loved one due to medical negligence? If so, you have the legal right to hold at-fault parties responsible for their actions, or lack thereof.
Contact our Indianapolis medical malpractice attorneys at Injury Lawyers Team today for a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is professional negligence by a health care provider that causes injury or loss to a patient. It can occur through a negligent act or an act of omission, leading to substandard medical care.
Medical malpractice can occur in hospitals, outpatient clinics, private practices, pharmacists, and other health care settings.
How Often Does Medical Malpractice Occur?
A recent study by Johns Hopkins suggests that medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the US, accounting for nearly 150,000 fatalities yearly. However, other studies report that deaths from medical errors are as high as 440,000 annually.
The main reason for the discrepancy is that doctors, coroners, funeral directors, and medical examiners rarely include human errors in death certificates.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) use death certificates to post nationwide death statistics, meaning that the actual number of medical-error-related deaths may be much higher.
An estimated 15,000 to 19,000 medical malpractice lawsuits yearly are made against medical providers. Again, this is not a reliable number to show the prevalence of medical malpractice cases in the US, considering that not all victims file reports or claims against negligent providers.
Types of Medical Malpractice
When you enlist a doctor or other health care professional for their service, you expect them to provide at least the minimum level of service every patient deserves. Failure to deliver that expected service standard could constitute medical malpractice if it harms you in any way.
Common medical errors that may be considered medical malpractice include:
Misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor fails to diagnose a patient correctly or makes a correct diagnosis but underestimates the disease’s severity. Common misdiagnosis errors include:
- Failing to diagnose a patient on time despite signs and symptoms or family history
- Categorizing a condition as less severe than it is
- Diagnosing a patient with another disease that shares similar indicators as the actual illness
- Failure to diagnose a related or unrelated disease
A healthcare provider responsible for prescribing, dispensing, or administering medication to a patient could be held liable for medical malpractice if they are guilty of:
- Prescribing the wrong medication
- Dispensing the wrong medication, dosage strength, or form
- Administering the drug incorrectly
- Failing to identify possible adverse drug-to-drug interactions
- Miscalculating a dose
A birth injury is a physical injury experienced during childbirth and can affect the mother, the infant, or both. Common birth injuries in newborns include brachial palsy, fractures, facial paralysis, and forceps marks.
Mothers can also suffer a birth injury resulting from negligence, including vaginal tears, psychological distress, and surgical instruments left inside after birth.
Negligent acts that can lead to birth injury include:
- Using excessive force to extract an infant from the birth canal
- Improper use of tools during birth, e.g., forceps
- Failing to control excessive maternal blood loss after delivery
- Failing to monitor mother and child during and after birth
- Failing to perform an emergency Cesarean section when necessary
The most devastating medical errors often occur in operating rooms, where patients are already in their most vulnerable states. Negligent providers may cause injury or death in a surgery patient by:
- Failing to prevent or address anesthesia errors
- Inadequate patient monitoring practices
- Leaving surgical instruments inside the patient
- Operating on the wrong body part
- Injuring a nerve
- Making an incision in the wrong location
Emergency Room Errors
Due to the fast-paced and high-stress environments in emergency departments, medical errors can be tough to avoid. Nevertheless, a negligent medical provider could still be liable for emergency-room-related mistakes, such as:
- Putting a patient in the wrong triage category
- Failing to perform required tests
- Misdiagnosing a patient
- Administering improper or excessive blood transfusions
Common Medical Malpractice Injuries
Medical malpractice cases often involve serious injuries, such as:
- Traumatic Brain Injuries: A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can result from a surgery error, misdiagnosis, or inadequate care. Failing to diagnose head trauma correctly or delaying treatment can cause or worsen brain injuries.
- Hospital-Acquired Infections: Improper medical care can cause infections, such as pneumonia, MRSA, and staph infections. Without proper treatment, infections can lead to a life-threatening condition called sepsis.
- Birth Injuries: Mishandling a mother or child before, during, and after birth can lead to birth injuries, such as fractures, facial paralysis, brachial palsy, and brain hemorrhaging.
- Complications From Medication Errors: The effects of drug errors can range from mild (e.g., itching, rashes, skin disfigurement) to severe (e.g., comatose, organ failure, heart attack).
- Medical Device Injury: The improper use of a medical tool or device can lead to patient injuries, such as when a doctor uses forceps to force a baby out of the birth canal.
- Wrongful Death: The negligent actions of healthcare providers can cause premature patient death, regardless of the extent of the error. Something as simple as discharging a patient too early can result in a serious injury.
Possible Causes of Medical Malpractice
Experts believe that most medical errors don’t occur because of inherently inadequate doctors. Instead, most errors can be linked back to systemic problems, such as:
- Chronic understaffing in medical facilities
- Overworked and overstressed workers
- Poorly coordinated care
- Fragmented insurance networks
- Inadequate or misuse of safety nets and other protocols
Sometimes, however, medical malpractice occurs due to an intentional act. Although it is rare for an intentional tort to be used as a basis in a medical malpractice case, it may be possible in instances where a medical professional deliberately causes harm.
Who Can Be Liable in Medical Malpractice Claims?
Any medical professional whose negligence causes injury or loss to a patient could be liable for a medical malpractice claim. Depending on your case’s circumstances, responsible parties in your medical malpractice case may include:
- Doctors and surgeons
- Nurses, nursing assistants
- Physical therapists
- Emergency medical technicians (EMTs)
- Medical technicians
- And others
How Do You Know if You Have a Medical Malpractice Case?
Medical malpractice cases consist of several essential elements, including:
- Doctor-Patient Relationship: You must show an established relationship between you and the at-fault medical professional by hiring or contracting their medical services. These services can only occur within the professional’s realm of employment, such as the hospital or private clinic.
- Duty of Care: Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals must abide by standards of care set by the medical community. Your medical providers have a legal duty to perform their duties consistent with these standards of care.
- Breach of Duty: You must prove that a medical provider breached the duty of care to file a medical malpractice case. A violation or breach of duty is a negligent act or failure to act, such as giving the wrong prescription drugs, providing a delayed diagnosis, or removing the wrong organ during surgery.
- Causation: You must prove that the healthcare provider’s negligence caused your injuries. Documents such as medical records can help show the relationship between your injuries and a doctor’s negligence.
- Damages: A medical malpractice claim must demonstrate that the medical error caused damage, either economic or non-economic. These damages may include medical expenses, disability, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.
Filing an Indianapolis Medical Malpractice Case
Has your doctor failed to provide treatment that another reasonably skillful practitioner under similar circumstances would and caused you harm? In that case, you could recover financial compensation by filing a personal injury claim.
The following forms of evidence can help you prove medical malpractice:
- Medical records
- Hospital records
- Photos of injuries
- Incorrect prescriptions or medications
- Proof of lack of informed consent
Medical malpractice claims usually involve medical experts that will help determine if the defendant breached the medical standard of care.
You will also need to prove the extent of your damages using documents, such as:
- Medical bills
- Psychological evaluations
- Pain records
- Records of missed workdays
- Insurance records
Your lawyer will discuss what evidence you need to start acquiring from your end during your free consultation.
Our Indianapolis medical malpractice lawyers will help you recover maximum compensation for your economic and non-economic losses, including:
- Medical Bills: Compensation for medical costs, such as hospitalization, medication, therapy, and emergency transportation.
- Disability: Compensation for disability-related damages if your injury leads to permanent disability. These may include loss of quality of life, loss of future earning potential, mobility aids, etc.
- Pain and Suffering: Compensation for physical and non-physical injuries, such as physical pain, emotional trauma, and mental anguish.
- Loss of Quality of Life: Compensation for quality of life lost due to injuries sustained or worsening health conditions resulting from the defendant’s negligence.
- Lost Wages: Compensation for wages, income, and benefits lost while recovering from an injury or ailment or caring for an injured loved one.
- Scarring or Disfigurement: Compensation for permanent scarring or disfigurement resulting from surgical errors.
- Wrongful Death: Compensation for wrongful death-related damages if your loved one dies due to a provider’s negligence. These losses may include funeral and burial costs, pre-death medical treatment, loss of consortium, etc.
Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim
Our Indiana medical malpractice lawyers can help you file a personal injury claim against responsible parties. After doing so, the negligent healthcare provider may use their professional liability coverage to pay for your damages.
The defendant’s insurance company may offer you a settlement after filing a medical malpractice claim. Unfortunately, it is common for insurers to make lowball offers to claimants to avoid paying more money than necessary. Hence, it is likely that you will receive an offer that is lower than what your claim is worth.
Do not accept any payment without consulting a lawyer. Once you take the compensation, you can no longer sue for additional damages in the future, regardless of their severity.
Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Medical malpractice claims rarely end up in court. However, filing a lawsuit against a negligent medical provider may be necessary if:
- The insurer is refusing to make a fair offer
- The insurer denies your medical malpractice case
- The defendant’s insurance coverage is not enough to pay for your damages
If either scenario happens, you can take your medical malpractice case to civil court to ensure you receive fair compensation for your losses. A judge or jury will hear evidence from both parties and determine a verdict, which usually takes several months to years.
Unfortunately, filing a medical malpractice case in Indiana is not that easy. The Indiana Medical Malpractice Act requires all lawsuits against healthcare providers to be submitted to a medical review panel before prosecution in court.
Furthermore, compensation for medical malpractice claims is capped, meaning some victims may receive less than they deserve. Additionally, contributory negligence applies, and the statute of limitations is sometimes shorter.
With all these complications in mind, you need an experienced attorney who can help you file your medical malpractice lawsuit in the best way possible.
Other Legal Options
In some personal injury claims, parties need a neutral third party to help them reach a mutual agreement. Our medical malpractice lawyers can help you pursue damages through alternative dispute resolution methods, such as arbitration and mediation, to avoid litigation for your medical malpractice case.
These methods involve a neutral third party who facilitates proceedings between two parties and helps them find an amicable solution. They are usually less expensive, formal, and time-consuming than court trials, usually spanning a few weeks to a few months.
Our Indianapolis medical malpractice lawyers will discuss your legal options during your free consultation.
Statute of Limitations
According to Indiana Law, the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is two years from the date of the incident (Indiana Code section 34-11-2-4).
Missing the deadline could mean losing crucial evidence or the court refusing to hear your case. Even if you manage to file a lawsuit outside the statute of limitations, the defendant will likely file a motion to dismiss your case.
Our Indianapolis medical malpractice attorneys will help you file a lawsuit in time, especially if the statute of limitations for your case is shorter than regular cases.
The Role of Your Medical Malpractice Attorney
You need proper legal representation to ensure that your case is solid enough to prove medical malpractice and that you receive adequate compensation for your losses.
In other words, you need a medical malpractice attorney who will:
- Investigate your case’s specifics and find out what went wrong in your treatment process
- Establish the liability of at-fault health care providers
- Gather substantial evidence to support your claim
- Consult with medical experts
- Submit your case to a medical review panel
- File a claim with the defendants’ insurer on your behalf
- Negotiate the settlement with the insurance company
- File your medical malpractice case in civil court, if necessary
How Patients Can Protect Themselves From Medical Malpractice
It is often easy to trust medical professionals that have spent most of their lives studying medicine. Unfortunately, with the alarming rates of misdiagnoses, prescription errors, surgical mistakes, and other medical negligence, you can never be too careful.
Here are several ways to avoid becoming a victim of medical malpractice:
- Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions: Learn as much as possible about your condition from your healthcare provider, then supplement that knowledge with online research. Ask your doctor about your medication’s side effects, benefits, and possible drug-to-drug interactions. If your treatment includes surgery, discuss the specifics of the operation in detail with your doctor and surgeon.
- Get a Second Opinion. Do not trust an initial diagnosis immediately. Even experienced doctors can miss crucial details and fail to give you an accurate diagnosis. Get a second opinion from another doctor to reduce uncertainties, especially if the suspected disease is complex.
- Bring Someone to Appointments. If you need someone to help you ask questions and process information, take a friend or family member to your doctor’s appointments.
- Stay on Top of Your Medical Information. It can be challenging to remember everything about your condition. To avoid confusion or uncertainties, ask for a copy of your medical records or access them from the Internet (if your provider offers such a service). Watch out for inconsistencies in your records that may indicate medical malpractice.
- Be Assertive: In some cases, medical malpractice occurs when a doctor does not believe their patient. Some doctors dismiss their patients’ complaints or think that they are lying. But while some patients do lie about their health, doctors must investigate every complaint accordingly. If you feel your doctor dismisses you, be respectful but assertive or find another doctor.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Our Indianapolis Medical Malpractice Lawyers Today
Medical professionals are legally required to perform their duties in compliance with the medical standards set by the healthcare community. A breach of this duty can lead to injury, worsening a patient’s condition, or in worst cases–wrongful death.
No patient deserves to suffer serious harm from a person to whom they entrusted their care. If you or a loved one are a victim of medical malpractice, our Indiana medical malpractice attorneys can help you recover compensation from at-fault parties.
With our attorneys’ combined legal experience and track record of success, there is no doubt that you will be in good hands at the Injury Lawyers Team.
Contact our personal injury attorneys today for a free case review. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.
Our attorneys handle all accepted cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t have to pay for our legal services unless we win your medical malpractice case.
- Medical News Today – Medical Malpractice
- Johns Hopkins – Study Suggests Medical Errors Now Third Leading Cause of Death in the US.
- Indiana Department of Insurance – Medical Malpractice