Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
Medical Malpractice is one of the Most Complex and Difficult Types of Personal Injury Law
Health is arguably the most important aspect of our lives, and something all of us need to look after. Medical practitioners and healthcare providers play a primary role in this respect. We all depend on medical professionals for staying healthy, diagnosing our illnesses timely and accurately, and providing treatment to us when we fall sick.
The main elements of our relationship with health professionals are trust and respect: we acknowledge the pivotal contribution they make to our lives and expect that they will also honor this trust by adhering to their corresponding obligations for the provision of competent medical care.
Unfortunately, things do not always work out as anticipated and even healthcare providers do, at times, fail to provide the care required. Whereas all of us will, at some point, put our lives in the hands of a doctor or medical facility, there may be instances when the applicable standards of care are not observed. In such cases, one may end up facing serious and often long-term consequences amounting to medical malpractice. These are the result of carelessness, irresponsibility, or negligence, rather than acting in a manner that causes harm intentionally.
If you or a loved one have sustained a serious (or even fatal) injury due to an avoidable mistake on the part of a healthcare provider or organization, it is highly advisable that you consult with a specialized personal injury lawyer, who will be able to go over your options with you.
Our team at Legal Help in Colorado has experience in medical malpractice cases, and we are used to dealing with insurance companies for the benefit of our clients. Our main aim is to allow them to focus on their healing and rehabilitation while making sure they get the compensation they need in order to move on with their lives in the best way possible.
Common types of Medical Malpractice:
- Emergency Room Error
- Prescription Mistake
- Chiropractic Mistake
- Dental Malpractice
- Birth Injury
- Surgical Neglect
Medical Malpractice: A General Overview
Common examples of medical malpractice include, but are not limited to:
- Having your condition misdiagnosed or experiencing a delayed diagnosis leading to documented adverse consequences for your health.
- Performance of unnecessary procedures.
- Improperly executed (“botched”) surgeries and, generally, surgical neglect, such as performing the wrong type of operation, wrong-site surgery, operating on the wrong patient or the wrong body part; leaving surgical instruments inside patients, improper sterilization of instruments leading to infection, or damage to organs during surgical procedures.
- Causing infection through unsanitary practices.
- Various failed treatment methods and procedures.
- Emergency room errors.
- Mistakes in the prescription making.
- Poor follow-up or aftercare.
- Premature discharge.
- Miscommunication or misreading of lab results, or failure to order appropriate testing.
- Birth injuries.
Medical malpractice is a form of professional negligence that occurs when a negligent act or omission causes an injury to a patient—for example, disregarding or not taking appropriate patient history, not providing necessary treatment, etc.
Medical malpractice cases arise when health care providers or organizations, such as doctors, nurses, dentists, chiropractors, psychologists, physical therapists, hospitals, clinics, laboratories, and lab techs, make an avoidable mistake. They may also arise from putting in place or failing to correct an error-prone environment that leads to serious or fatal injury. In essence, every instance when a healthcare provider provides care that is deemed to fall below what a reasonable provider with the same background would have provided may give rise to claims of medical malpractice.
When Does a Medical Malpractice Claim Arise?
To pursue a medical malpractice claim, you must first show that certain conditions are met. These can be briefly summarized as follows:
- The defendant/healthcare professional or organization was required to adhere to a particular standard of care.
- The standard of care in question was breached, meaning that the defendant proceeded to acts or omissions falling short of the requirements set by the said standard.
- You sustained an injury.
- A causal link exists between the act or omission on the part of the defendant and the injury that you sustained, i.e. it was this breach of the standard of care that actually caused your injury.
One of the main aspects of such a claim, namely the existence of fault on the part of the healthcare professional involved in a medical malpractice case, stems from a violation of the standard of care owed. It may seem strange that there is no precise or definitive medical definition for the said standard of care. In practice, it is established on the basis of the concept of negligence in the legal sense. Put as simply as possible, negligence generally refers to a failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances. Consequently, the law acknowledges that certain medical standards recognized by the profession dictate what would be considered acceptable medical treatment by reasonably prudent healthcare professionals under like or similar circumstances.
Determining the necessary elements for putting forward a medical malpractice claim in Colorado are in place is anything but an easy task. It requires familiarity with the applicable legislation, sound knowledge of the relevant case law, and an understanding of the practicalities of pursuing such a claim. This is why you need an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you with your claim. At a time when you are struggling with your health, you should be focusing on getting better; not dealing with insurance companies, complex legal issues, paperwork, and deadlines.
If your circumstances concern actions or omissions on the part of a healthcare professional or organization that caused you or a loved one injury or harm, do not hesitate to contact us for a free initial consultation. We will go over the particulars of your situation with you and advise you regarding your options, as well as determine how we may assist you in getting the compensation you deserve. Ross Ziev and the legal team at Legal Help in Colorado have acquired millions of dollars in settlements and jury verdicts for our clients. Our combined years of experience drastically increase your chances of success in getting a fair settlement—and you won’t have to pay us anything out of your pocket until we have won your case.
When considering whether you may have a claim and how to proceed with it, one of the first things you must remember is that medical malpractice cases are extremely complex, as is the relevant legal framework that governs them. Pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Colorado involves strict adherence to extensive procedural rules that apply. It also requires meticulous attention to medical records that have to be carefully collected, examined, and assessed, coupled with a rather substantial “burden of proof” that has to be met on your part.
Bearing in mind the above, three aspects that you will need to consider very carefully are:
- The filing deadlines set by the statute of limitations in Colorado.
- Our State’s “certificate of review” requirement.
- The applicable cap on medical malpractice damages.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases in Colorado stipulates that a related lawsuit must be filed within two years from when you suffered harm or when you discovered—or could reasonably have been expected to discover—that you were harmed by a medical error .
The law also sets out that you must get your case filed within three years of the alleged malpractice, irrespective of when it was discovered. There are, however, some exceptions, such as if the defendant concealed the malpractice, if a surgical instrument or some other foreign object was left in your body after a medical procedure, or if you did not know about both the malpractice and your resulting injury, and you could not have discovered both, even with the exercise of reasonable diligence and concern.
Furthermore, any lawsuit brought in Colorado on behalf of a minor who was younger than six years of age at the time has to be filed before the child’s eighth birthday. There are also specific rules in place for older minors (under the age of 18) and injured patients who are mentally disabled.
The Certificate of Review
In the context of actions against licensed professionals for negligence, including cases of alleged medical malpractice, plaintiffs in Colorado have to file a so-called “certificate of review.” The purpose of this document is to prevent the filing of frivolous actions that have no basis in fact. It is a type of supporting proof that accompanies such actions, signed and filed by your attorney.
You must submit a certificate of review within 60 days of filing your lawsuit unless you can show the court that there exists a good cause for an extension. In the certificate itself, it must be declared that:
- Your lawyer has consulted with a qualified expert who has reviewed the facts of the case, including any records, documents, and other materials that the professional has found to be relevant to the allegations of negligent conduct (including medical records).
- Based on the review of such facts, the expert has concluded that the lawsuit does not lack substantial justification. In other words, the medical expert who will sign off on the certificate must state that, in their opinion, the defendant(s) did, indeed, demonstrate negligence.
In actions alleging professional negligence on the part of a physician, the certificate of review declares that the person consulted meets the applicable requirements. These include the need for the expert in question to be a licensed physician in the same or a similar specialty as the defendant.
In cases where there is more than one defendant, a separate affidavit of review will be submitted for each one of them. In addition to the above, you will have to file an affidavit for the hospital or other company that employs any of the defendant healthcare professionals, even if the employer isn’t named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
As you can gather, these are all matters calling for expert legal knowledge, precision, and attention to detail. For instance, failure to file a lawsuit within the prescribed time limit will almost certainly result in the court refusing to consider your claim, so it is crucial to ensure compliance with the statute of limitations. Likewise, not filing a certificate of review in cases where one is required will most likely result in the dismissal of your medical malpractice lawsuit.
Therefore, it is vital that you work alongside a seasoned professional who possesses the required expertise and skills, and who will ensure that all such necessities will be met.
Why You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer
Having professional guidance in a medical malpractice case is key with reference to the amounts that can be claimed in compensation. A specialized personal injury attorney with an experienced team will be better placed to make an accurate claim assessment for your individual case.
Even if your case never reaches court, having an experienced lawyer take over negotiations with insurance companies on your behalf will be of decisive importance. Insurance companies representing doctors, organizations providing medical services, and healthcare professionals, work with experienced legal teams that are accustomed to representing them aggressively, often contending that no liability exists at all.
Accordingly, it is crucial that you have the best possible team on your side, too. Ross Ziev and the entire team at Legal Help in Colorado are familiar with this sort of tactics and resolved to fight for your rights in an equally aggressive manner, without being intimidated by such practices.
Capping Medical Malpractice Damages
The damages that a victim of medical malpractice may seek to receive include economic damages. These may cover expenses such as existing and future/anticipated medical and physical therapy bills, lost wages, amounts corresponding to loss of earning capacity, and so on.
They also include non-economic damages that relate to losses that are not obviously quantifiable. Depending on each case’s particular circumstances, these may include compensation for the pain and suffering experienced, as well as loss of consortium, i.e. losing the benefits of a family relationship due to your injuries.
Colorado State, like a number of others, has laws in place limiting the amount of compensation that a personal injury victim, including patients, is able to receive. Under our state laws, the cap on damages in most cases is set at $1 million. In practice, this is the total amount a plaintiff in a personal injury action, including those for medical malpractice, is generally allowed to receive. In order to be able to obtain an amount beyond the $1 million cap, you will have to prove that there is good cause for doing so, by proving that the use of said cap would be unfair bearing the specific facts of your case. The cap on damages includes payment for both economic and non-economic damages. In any event, non-economic damages are capped at $300,000 .
Contact Legal Help in Colorado
Ross Ziev, along with our entire legal team at Legal Help in Colorado, is committed to getting justice for victims of negligence. We are well-seasoned in this area of law and set to pursue your claim aggressively, without succumbing to intimidation practices commonly adopted by at-fault parties.
Reach out to us today to schedule an appointment. Initial consultations are free and conducted with absolute confidence. Contact Legal Help in Colorado online, call us at (720) 743-3682, or visit our offices at 8480 E Orchard Road, STE #2400, Greenwood Village CO 80111 to discuss your case!