When you’re facing a medical condition or illness, you have to trust the doctor and care team treating you are going to do what it takes to restore your health and get you back on your feet. Unfortunately, instances of medical malpractice inhibit patient recovery far too often. If you think you’ve been the victim of a physician’s or hospital’s error and are now suffering the consequences, you may have grounds to file a claim with the help of a Wheeling medical malpractice lawyer.
As we begin building your med mal claim, we’ll work to prove the doctor made a negligent mistake that caused you harm. Because these claims are among the most complex in personal injury law, it’s not uncommon for the process to be lengthy. We’ll be with you every step of the way, so you understand what’s going on. While we work on recovering your financial compensation, you’ll have the space you need to heal physically and emotionally.
Defining Medical Malpractice
The definition of medical malpractice varies depending on the state. In West Virginia, the definition is established under §55-7B-2. Under that statute, physicians are required to exercise a degree of care, skill, and learning required or expected of a reasonable health care provider in the same field. This is referred to as the standard of care.
A medical expert can help determine if the standard of care was breached in a particular situation. Doing so is an important part of building a successful claim. Once that breach has been established, it’s important to determine how that breach corresponds with the injuries. Then, the injuries need to be examined in terms of damages and losses.
There are a number of areas where malpractice can take, including during surgery or birth, while giving medication, or during the diagnostic phase of care. We’ll look at your case and determine the error that harmed you and what you’ve lost as a result.
Patient Rights in West Virginia
As a patient in a hospital or other medical facility, you are afforded certain rights. When those rights aren’t met, it’s possible malpractice played a role. In our state, the West Virginia Health Care Decisions Act established patient rights. Under that act, patients have the right to the following:
- Be cared for with respect in a safe environment
- Receive information regarding illnesses, possible treatments, and likely outcomes
- Have a family member be informed regarding admittance
- Know the names and roles of the people providing treatment
- Have an advance directive
- Expect the hospital provide the best possible services possible
- Know about hospital rules that could affect treatment, charges, and payment method
- Consent or decline to take part in research affecting patient care
- Be as free of pain as possible
- Ask a patient advocate for help
- Know if the hospital has relationships with outside parties that influence treatment
If you believe any of those rights were violated when you were a patient, our attorneys can determine if malpractice was at play. For example, not receiving information regarding your care likely means the hospital did not have your informed consent. If you were injured during a procedure you didn’t consent to, the doctor and possibly the hospital could be held accountable for their failure to abide by your patient rights.
Common Medical Errors and Why They Happen
A doctor or hospital can make a mistake in any stage of care. Early in care, it’s possible for a misdiagnosis or failed diagnosis to occur. If a patient’s condition isn’t properly identified, there’s potential for the patient’s condition and overall health to worsen. In some cases, especially in the event of a misdiagnosed infection, the situation could become fatal.
If a patient needs to undergo an operation, there are a number of situations in which malpractice could occur. If the patient isn’t anesthetized properly, they could wake up during the procedure or suffer from oxygen deprivation. There’s also the risk of surgical tools being left inside the patient, or a patient undergoing surgery on the wrong side of their body or meant for a different patient.
After a procedure, it’s likely a patient will be put on medications to ward off pain and infection. If an error is made while filling a script, the patient could suffer an allergic reaction or an improper dosage that causes additional complications.
If a doctor or nurse isn’t coping with the stress of their profession well, they may turn to drugs or alcohol. If a medical professional is inebriated at any point while providing care to patients, they are risking causing serious injuries or death.
If you’ve been injured as a result of one of the situations discussed above, get in touch with us as soon as possible. There are, however, numerous situations that can be considered malpractice. If you believe your situation should be eligible for a claim, we can help you make that determination.
How to File a Medical Malpractice Claim
It’s important to seek legal representation when you’re ready to file a claim so you have the best chances of a successful claim. Your lawyer will be able to conduct a thorough investigation that proves you were wronged.
When you decide to file a claim, it’s important to keep the statute of limitations in mind. When a claim proceeds to trial as a lawsuit, that filing is subject to a time restriction. In Wheeling, lawsuits regarding medical malpractice must be filed with two years of the date of injury. If some situations, the discovery rule may apply—which extends the time you have based on when it would have been reasonable to discover the malpractice. Your attorney will know just how long you have based on your circumstances. If the statute of limitations is missed, it’s likely the case will be dismissed without review.
If you do plan on filing a lawsuit, your lawyer will help you get the necessary paperwork in line. 30 days prior to filing, the state requires you send a notice of claim to the health care provider you’re suing. This has to include the grounds for the lawsuit, a list of doctors receiving the notice, and a screening certificate of merit. A screening certificate of merit is a written statement by a medical professional describing their qualifications and why they believe malpractice took place.
Gathering the necessary documents for a claim can seem overwhelming, but we’ll be able to handle that for you while determining the compensation you’re owed.
The Benefits of Working with an Experienced Lawyer in Wheeling
There’s always the expectation that medical professionals will provide an appropriate evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment plan for their patients. When these expectations aren’t met because of negligence, a Wheeling medical malpractice lawyer is ready to come to the aid of the victim.
When you decide to file a claim, it’s imperative to be supported by a well-qualified and highly professional legal representative. With the right lawyer, not only with you be able to build a strong case against the negligent party, but you’ll also have access to resources that will strengthen your case. For example, we have connections with medical experts who will be willing to review the circumstance leading up to your injury and provide their opinion regarding neglect and malpractice.
When you work with DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC, we handle the endless paperwork and phone calls, so you can focus on getting better. We have extensive experience valuing claims and negotiating the best possible settlements for our clients. In the event we cannot reach a fair settlement, we won’t hesitate to file a lawsuit and take your case to court to obtain an official verdict.
If you’re ready to get the compensation you deserve after being injured by a physician, hospital, or other medical professional, contact our law firm today. We’ll begin by evaluating your situation and helping you determine the best course of action for your future.