When you sustain an injury due to a mistake by a medical professional, you may have to deal with devastating consequences on your own. These consequences can impact your emotional, physical, and financial well-being, causing a significant loss. To recover from your injuries, you may have to undergo extensive treatments that cost a lot of money, which you might not be able to raise. Being in this situation can be worrisome. However, there is hope to get back to your original health and be financially stable. Under Nevada law, you can compel the person that caused your injuries to compensate you for all the damages he/she caused you by filing a lawsuit.
Filing a lawsuit, especially ones related to medical malpractice, is not easy. There are various requirements you need to fulfill for your lawsuit to be successful. You also need an attorney to help you through it. At the Las Vegas Personal Injury Law Firm, we help clients who have a medical malpractice case get their deserved compensation. Apart from helping you file a lawsuit, we will help you fight your case to the latter.
Understanding Medical Malpractice
Under the law of the State of Nevada, medical malpractice is known as professional negligence. The law on professional negligence in Nevada is defined under NRS 41A.015. Professional negligence is the failure of a health care provider to render services. It is also the failure of a provider to use reasonable care, knowledge, or skills usually used under the same circumstances by an equally-trained and skilled health care provider.
Healthcare providers include:
- Physical therapists
- Physician assistants
- Medical lab directors
Health care providers may also include licensed clinics, hospitals, surgery centers, group practices, and doctors’ professional corporations.
Injuries You Can Sustain as a Result of Medical Malpractice
When a doctor is negligent of his duties, he/she may cost you your health. You may end up sustaining temporary or permanent injuries. There are several types of injuries you can suffer. They include:
- Loss of limb
- Cerebral palsy (this is brain damage which typically occurs during or before the birthing process. The damage results in severe mental and physical disabilities).
- Quadriplegia or paraplegia
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Nerve damage
- Congenital disabilities
If you sustain any of these injuries due to medical malpractice, talk to your attorney as soon as possible. He/she will help you get started with the process of filing a claim.
A Doctor’s Duty of Care
Physicians have the primary duty of protecting their patients’ health and their general well-being. Most doctors adhere to their oath to the latter, but others expose their patients to risk factors through poor decisions or negligence.
When a physician harms you, you can seek compensation by filing a malpractice lawsuit. In arguing a malpractice case, your attorney must prove four elements that constitute malpractice. These include:
- Duty- Your attorney must show that the physician had an obligation to provide care to you. If the doctor failed to do so, he/she would have violated his/her duty, warranting a medical malpractice claim.
- Breach- If the physician failed to provide the standard of care, he/she would have breached his duty. You can prove that the doctor breached his/her responsibility in two ways. One is that you can show the actions of the doctor went below the industry’s acceptable standards. Another way to prove a breach is by showing the physician deviated from the usual treatment procedures.
- Causation- With the help of your attorney, you must show that the physician’s actions or his /her failure to act led to your injuries.
- Damages- Damages have to be defined clearly, and they have to be specific for you to claim medical malpractice occurred.
If your attorney can prove that all these elements were in your case, the health care provider will be held responsible for his/her actions.
Common Forms of Medical Malpractices for Which You Can Sue a Health Care Provider
A physician can injure a patient in several ways. However, these four are the main ones that personal injury attorneys use when handling a possible malpractice lawsuit. They include:
Misdiagnosis- When a doctor is grossly negligent as to misdiagnose you, a patient can file a lawsuit. Your attorney must prove that a competent and reasonable doctor, presented with a similar set of proof, would have diagnosed you differently. Also, the lawyer must prove that the doctor’s misdiagnosis led to a direct injury or made you not to have a chance for medical treatment.
Surgical errors- We have three ways in which a patient could claim surgical mistakes. Firstly, the surgeon can make an error like leaving equipment in the body or cutting an organ, which warrants a lawsuit. Secondly, the surgeon can operate with carelessness, like trying surgery when drunk. Lastly, nurses may be held responsible for improper post-operative care, which later results in complications.
Medication errors- Physicians who prescribe wrong drugs or wrong dosages will be committing medical malpractice. Also, those doctors who do not inquire about a patient's complete medical record may be responsible if the patient suffers adverse reactions. The same applies to physicians who don't inquire about medications the patient is currently taking.
Birth injuries- An infant is highly vulnerable during birth. Doctors who don’t take the right precautions of care could injure the newborn. Nerve damage, broken bones, and brain injuries arise from rough handling and may lead to everlasting pain.
Most lawsuits will fall under any of these four categories. However, if you claim falls out of the groups, you can still claim compensation. Other types of medical malpractice include:
- Lack of knowledgeable authorization to a given medical procedure
- Failure to treat health complications properly, for instance, an infection
- Failure to treat a disease properly
- Failure to provide appropriate care
- Failure to oversee agents or employees properly (apparent or actual)
- Anesthesia accidents and improper anesthesia
- Wrongful death when carrying out a surgery
The Procedure for Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim
If, as a result of a medical professional’s negligence, you got injured, you should talk to your attorney and begin the process of filing a claim. Your attorney will first determine if you have a case worth pursuing. Medical malpractice cases may quickly become expensive and complex to litigate or negotiate. The law of Nevada provides particular instructions one should follow when filing a malpractice lawsuit. You must follow each one of the statutes; otherwise, your claim will be rendered null and void.
To complete the filing process, you should visit the nearest civil court where your incident took place. You will be given paperwork to fill out so you can file your lawsuit. In the paperwork, you will have to explain the incident and the injuries you sustained. Give the name of the health care provider and contact details. You can also include other information concerning the liable party. Your attorney will help you through this process.
One big issue the jury considers in your lawsuit is whether you were injured by the health care provider’s supposed malpractice. This is because many people don’t usually seek treatment until they become sick. Thus, it might be hard to know whether one’s death or injury was due to the medical care provider’s negligence.
To show the direct causation of your injury, usually, the law requires you to present an affidavit. The affidavit has to be from a medical specialist who is in the same field as the health care provider you are suing. It has to state that in the specialist’s opinion, the harm you sustained was due to the physician’s negligence, not as a result of your illness. Apart from a medical specialist, other expert witnesses may be hired to testify to show that the medical care provider acted against the industry’s standard of care. Depositions may also be taken to prove your case.
If your case proceeds to trial, you may be required to provide further testimony from a medical expert. The testimony will help to establish that your injuries were due to the medical staff or doctor’s negligence. Our attorneys may help you get a medical professional that will evaluate your claim. Note that there might be several court appearances and deadlines involved. Therefore, a simple mistake on these procedures may be damaging to your case.
It is also critical to note that the health care provider you are suing will have several experienced attorneys on their side. These attorneys will be helping them to build a solid case. The lawyers are trained and specialize in defending medical malpractice claims. Having a skilled attorney representing you is necessary as it ensures the playing ground is leveled.
Requirements for Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim
Filing a malpractice lawsuit isn’t as simple as requesting compensation from the liable party. You have to show that you have a reason why you are filing the claim by presenting a few certificates and documents. Failure to do this, your case will not be considered. Hiring an attorney will ensure you do not miss any crucial requirements for filing the claim. If you have to sue a healthcare provider in Las Vegas, you will need these documents:
Proof of negligence- You first need to prove that the party you are suing owed you a duty of care and breached that duty causing you harm. Evidence of negligence may be in terms of witness statements, expert testimony, or medical records.
Certificate of merit (affidavit) - A certificate of merit refers to a document that contains signed opinions of a specialist medical witness. The affidavit states that the medical witness believes your injuries happened due to the mistake of the medical care provider.
Personal injury attorney- Medical malpractice lawsuits are a complex type of personal injury claim. You need an attorney by your side to stand a chance of winning your case in Las Vegas.
Collect information concerning your claim, review the requirements needed for filing, and start the compensation process with the help of a lawyer. Our attorneys have the experience to bring a strong suit. We are ready to help you in any way and with everything needed to file the claim and fight to recover damages.
Statute of Limitations for Filing Medical Malpractice Claims
Like any other state, Nevada has limited time for which you can present your medical malpractice lawsuit. This time is known as the statute of limitations. The law requires that you file your malpractice lawsuit within three years from the time the alleged professional negligence took place. However, injuries caused by medical malpractice are not usually evident until at a later time. In situations like these, the statute of limitations is as follows:
- One year from when you discovered the harm, or
- One year from the date, you should have found out the injury by using reasonable diligence, whichever comes first.
However, we have special exceptions when it comes to an injured child who is below ten years. If the harm involves brain damage or congenital disabilities, the parents or guardians of the minor have until the child’s tenth birthday to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
The timing in the statute of limitations can be unclear in particular situations. Therefore, you should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as you suspect or believe you have been harmed. Note that failure to file your case within the stipulated time-frame will make you lose your lawsuit forever.
Liability in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
Most physicians are not employees of a medical facility. Instead, they operate as independent contractors with staff privileges in the facility. Therefore, typically, medical facilities can’t be held liable for the doctor’s actions. However, in Nevada, we have various exceptions to this rule, which allow you to seek compensation from both the hospital and doctor.
Ostensible agency- This happens when you visited a medical facility, and the facility assigned you a physician whom you reasonably presumed was the facility’s employee.
Negligence- Doctors who have a history of substance abuse or medical malpractice pose a risk to patients in a given medical facility. If the facility knew of the history of the doctor and still allowed him/her to work there, the facility will be held liable for the physician’s actions.
Negligent credentialing- Medical facilities should vet anybody who works at their place. In case an unqualified health care provider offers medical care services at the facility, it could be held responsible for failing to cross-check the provider’s credentials.
What if You Share Negligence in Your Case?
Like other states, Nevada follows the comparative negligence rule. This rule provides that a complainant’s negligence should not be higher than the carelessness of the defendant(s). If this happens, then the complainant will not receive any recovery at all after the case ends. And if the plaintiff and defendant share negligence, the plaintiff’s compensation will be reduced depending on his/her degree of negligence. For instance, if the jury determines that you were 40% negligent, then you will receive only 60% of the compensation.
Damages in Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
In Nevada, you can recover non-economic, economic, and in certain cases, punitive damages when you file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Economic damages compensate for any monetary losses you suffered. These kinds of damages don’t have a limit. They include compensation for:
- Lost wages
- Medical bills (both past & future)
- Ongoing treatment costs
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Physical or occupational therapy
- Permanent disabilities
- Wrongful birth
On the other hand, non-economic damages compensate for all those losses that are difficult to calculate. They include:
- Pain & suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
The state of Nevada limits non-economic damages to $350,000 per complainant. If the health care provider acted with the intent to injure you or with malice, a jury would award you punitive damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish the medical care provider. The highest you can receive for punitive damages is either three times the total amount of non-economic and economic damages combined or $300,000, whichever is less.
The amount of money you get for your injuries depends on how severe the injuries are. It also depends on what impact the injuries will have on your well-being in the future. The skills of your lawyer may also determine how much you receive as compensation. To determine what damages and how much you will receive for your case, consult your medical malpractice attorney.
Wrongful Death Claim Due to Medical Malpractice
A doctor’s negligence may result in the death of a patient. When this happens, the surviving family members of the deceased can file a wrongful death claim to recover damages. You have to file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of your loved one’s death. However, this claim is not just filed by any member of the family. There are specific family members allowed by the law to bring a wrongful death claim. They include:
- A spouse
- Parents of the deceased
- The personal representative of the deceased
The damages you can recover in a wrongful death claim include medical expenses, funeral costs, loss of consortium, and lost wages.
How an Attorney Will Help You
Our attorneys have one goal while dealing with medical malpractice cases: to fight to reach the highest possible settlement with insurance companies. While you concentrate on healing and getting your life back together, our lawyers will be doing the following:
- Gathering proof to support your lawsuit, for instance, eyewitness accounts and medical records.
- Getting together expert medical witnesses who can attest that your physicians acted with negligence, which led to your injuries.
- Monitoring the progress of your treatment.
- Strategically negotiating with the insurance companies of the liable health care provider.
- Dealing with court filings and all the legal paperwork.
- Preparing for a trial in case negotiations don’t yield a favorable settlement.
Note that insurance providers will try to settle as quickly as possible so your case can go away. They will offer you a deal to try and lure you into settling. The deal may look enticing, but you should not accept it in the absence of your attorney. This is because these companies try to settle for as little as possible. Let your attorney deal with them. He/she would know how to negotiate so you can get the highest compensation allowable.
Also, the insurance company is capable of arguing any point to evade paying you. For instance, they may claim you had already been injured, or your injuries had nothing to do with the doctor. By hiring an attorney, he/she will gather every bit of proof that indicates your injuries resulted from the doctor’s negligence. Your attorney will hold the doctor to account and won’t quit until the doctor takes responsibility.
Also, we recommend that you don’t file a malpractice claim on your own. Suing health care providers for malpractice is a specialized area of Nevada law and has clearly defined rules and regulations that one should follow. A single mistake could render your case null and void. Thus, we advise that you rely on expert legal counsel to handle the case on your behalf.
Additionally, you should allow yourself to recover from your injuries. Some injuries will put you in a condition whereby you cannot orchestrate a claim. The legal team of the liable party will do anything to delay proceedings, bury you in paperwork, and take advantage of you if you lack legal experience. You should rely on your legal team to handle the case on your behalf, so you have ample time to heal.
Find a Medical Malpractice Attorney Near Me
Las Vegas Personal Injury Law Firm represents clients who wish to file medical malpractice lawsuits in Las Vegas, Nevada. Our attorneys know how to litigate these lawsuits to suit the best interests of clients. If you want to see if you have a claim and how much the claim is worth, call us at 702-996-1224. We will evaluate your case for free. If it is worth it, we will help you file a claim and fight to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.