Labor and Delivery Lawsuits
Mothers-to-be shouldn’t have to worry about their health and the health of their baby while in labor. Yet, the US has the highest childbirth mortality rate when compared with similar countries. This is unacceptable when you consider the amount of education and resources available to medical professionals in this country.
Some of the common labor and delivery errors that can lead to a birth injury include cerebral palsy caused during labor, failure to monitor fetal vitals; improper use of delivery tools such as forceps or vacuum extractors; medication errors, and failure to perform a timely C-section. You may be wondering, “Is cerebral palsy always a birth injury?” Read more in our FAQ to answer this question.
Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath are experienced in dealing with labor and delivery lawsuits with a high success rate. We awarded $35,000,000 to the family of a baby who was injured due to a medical professional’s error.
Medication Errors in Anesthesia
Anesthesia errors can cause serious problems. With patients waking up in the middle of an operation, to reacting badly to an improper amount of anesthesia, these are some of the deadliest types of malpractice.
Anesthesia errors can take many forms, but some of the most common are when doctors administer too much of the medication, or conversely, too little, which causes the patient to be aware and feel pain, but unable to speak or communicate.
Other times, doctors may fail to recognize or prevent adverse drug reactions that can occur when there is an interaction between the anesthesia and a medication that the patient is taking.
Long-term malpractice errors
Being given improper treatment or medicine for a long time can end up hurting the body worse than never being given the treatment in the first place. Medical professionals are supposed to stay vigilant on any long-term treatment or care.
An example of long-term negligence is when a doctor orders treatment and allows it to continue without regular follow-up. Any medication or procedure should come with a check-in, and it’s dangerous for doctors to ignore this step.
Lack of Informed Consent Lawsuits
Failure to inform patients of risks and challenges associated with a surgery or treatment is a common medical malpractice lawsuit. Some patients, if they know potential side effects, would never have had the surgery or treatment to begin with.
For example, imagine you have been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Your doctor recommends surgery but doesn’t disclose the known risk of visual impairment because of the tumor’s location in your brain. You wake from the surgery with permanent visual impairment, and you can hold the doctor responsible because they didn’t inform you of this risk.
Medical Negligence Lawsuits
General medical negligence is an umbrella term that covers anything a doctor fails to do that falls into their sphere of responsibility. For example, not paying attention to recorded allergies.
We can help you claim a wide range of damages in your medical malpractice case, including wrongful death, medical expenses, lost wages, future wages, pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, and more. No matter the details of your case, we can confidently lead you on the path to success and help you get the compensation you are entitled to by law.
The most common medical malpractice cases are related to birth injury. Mothers and infants are all too often victims of medical malpractice. These acts of negligence occur when doctors, nurses, other medical staff, or hospitals fail to use reasonable care when attending to a mother during pregnancy or delivery.
Cerebral palsy affects a person’s ability to move, maintain balance, and have correct posture. It’s a common disability in childhood and is caused by a brain injury that occurred during pregnancy, birth, or the first three years of a child’s life.
Erb’s palsy is paralysis of the arm characterized by weakness and loss of motion. In infants, it’s commonly caused during the delivery process as hospital staff use traumatic force that accidentally damages the brachial plexus.
Brachial Plexus Injury
Brachial plexus injuries cause limp or paralyzed arms, lack of muscle control in the arms, wrists, or hands, and a lack of sensation in the arms and hands. These injuries can occur in a newborn when their neck is stretched to the side during delivery.
Anesthesia can be fatal when administered improperly. If an anesthesiologist isn’t 100% focused, they might miss important details about their patient’s medical history or give too much anesthesia.
There are three types of anesthesia:
General anesthesia induces unconsciousness in the patient. During general anesthesia, the patient’s muscles are typically paralyzed and the patient is often intubated.
Not only can an anesthesia error kill an unconscious patient, but an improperly placed endotracheal tube can lead to severe complications such as throat damage, difficulty breathing, or heart attack.
There are some instances in which patients don’t need to be unconscious but still need numbing for a large section of their body. Regional anesthesia is commonly used for epidurals and spinal anesthesia.
When not administered properly, regional anesthesia mistakes can cause heart complications, high blood pressure, heart attacks, or nerve damage.
Local anesthesia is specific to a certain area of the body and is often used for minor procedures such as stitches. Dentists and dermatologists frequently use local anesthesia in their line of work.
While generally safe, local anesthesia runs the risk of anesthetic chemicals reaching the blood supply.
Emergency Room Errors
While heroic and life-saving actions are taken in emergency rooms, there are also errors made by doctors and hospital staff. The West Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyers at Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath are skilled at investigating and identifying the causes of emergency room errors that often have long-lasting effects on a patient’s life.
In some cases, the hospital itself may be found at fault for an emergency room error. This could happen if the hospital was found to have incompetent or dangerous doctors working onsite.
Medical Device Errors
When a medical device has a defect, this could lead to extreme and serious consequences for the patient. Medical device errors often occur in pacemakers, ventilators, and shunts.
Misdiagnosis & Delayed Diagnosis
Due to the fast-paced nature of an emergency room, doctors and nurses may miss critical details needed to correctly diagnose a patient in a timely manner. Receiving improper treatment for the wrong diagnosis can cause extensive damage.
Medical malpractice often occurs during post-operative care. Infections and blood clots are two of the most immediate threats to a patient’s well-being following a surgical procedure.
How is medical malpractice proven?
If a medical professional or doctor has breached their duty of care, you may be able to claim compensation for their negligence or wrongful act in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Medical malpractice is when a physician or other medical professional deviates from the accepted standard of care, and actual damages or losses occurred as a result.
When proving negligence in a medical malpractice lawsuit, all of the following must exist:
- The victim was a patient of the physician or other medical professional.
- The physician or other medical professional acted negligently or maliciously.
- The doctor or medical professional’s negligent or wrongful act directly caused the victim’s injury or death.
- The harm or death caused actual damages, such as special damages, general damages, and punitive damages.
Proving negligence and fault can be incredibly difficult without the help of an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. A lawyer at our West Palm Beach personal injury firm can help you understand the ins and outs of your unique case and legal claim, helping you choose the right path forward.
What medical malpractice damages can be rewarded?
You’ve filed a medical malpractice lawsuit, but what can you claim? There is a long list of damages that you may demand compensation for. Out-of-pocket costs are the easiest to have covered, but there are more intangible damages that you can claim, too.
There are three types of damages one can claim in a medical malpractice lawsuit:
- Special damages
- General damages
- Punitive damages
These are damages attributed to real costs relating to the incident of medical malpractice. These quantifiable damages have a receipt, a bill, or a paper trail. These damages can also be claimed for potential future expenses related to the incident as well.
Some special damages that may be claimed include:
- Medical csts
- Repayment of the medical malpractice procedure
- Costs of in-home care
- Emergency room fees
- Ambulance fees
- Projected future care
- Therapy or counseling
These damages are not quantifiable, but no less deserving of compensation due to the negligence of the medical professional. These cover the cost of suffering for the patient for what they have been through during the ordeal.
Each medical malpractice case is unique, which is why you need an experienced West Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyer in your corner who knows the ins and outs of medical practice insurance and how to quantify the unquantifiable. These damages often need to be supported by more than just documentation. It is not uncommon for witness testimony to be heard from the injured, their friends, and family during a lawsuit.
General damages can include:
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of quality of life
- Future loss of earning capacity
- Humiliation or reputation loss
These types of damages are defined as a punishment against the medical professional or egregious acts of malevolence or negligence. A doctor who leaves a surgical sponge inside of a patient intentionally to warrant a second surgery can be sued for punitive damages, but if this same incident happened accidentally, punitive damages may not be pursued because the act was not willful. It is rare for punitive damages to be given in a medical malpractice case, but it is not unheard of.
Can I afford a medical malpractice attorney?
Pay Nothing Unless We Win
Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath follow a contingency fee structure. What that means is that if our law firm takes your case, you don’t have to pay anything until we win. This also means that we will not take your case unless we feel we will win, since all of the costs will be on us if we lose.
What is a contingency fee?
A contingency fee is what most personal injury law firms use in place of a client paying upfront costs. A lawyer getting paid for your lawsuit is contingent on them winning the case. If the lawyer doesn’t win the case, the client doesn’t have to pay, and the lawyer absorbs the costs of filing and litigation.
We don’t charge by the hour or a flat fee. Instead, we cover all up front court costs and collect a fixed percentage of the final paid out amount.
The Costs of a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Filing and litigation costs can be a lot of money, especially if you are out of work due to your medical malpractice claim. Expert witnesses cost money, as well as requesting and ordering medical records and traveling to interview eyewitnesses.
Once we win, we deduct the cost of filing your lawsuit, as well as the contingency fee, so the check you get is all yours and you don’t have to worry about anything else.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit after a medical malpractice injury?
After medical malpractice occurs, a victim must file a case within a specific period set forth by the State of Florida’s statute of limitations. For medical malpractice or wrongful death claims, the Florida statute of limitations allows claims to be filed within two years from the date of the incident. Outside of this time period, you will likely not be able to collect compensation through a lawsuit.
There is an argument over what the term “incident” refers to, whether it is the date of the procedure of malpractice or the date in which they first noticed something was wrong. Talk to a West Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyer to learn more about it.
What is the Medical Malpractice Statute of Repose?
The statute of repose states that unless a medical professional participated in fraud, concealment, or misrepresentation, that the healthcare provider may not be sued under any circumstances more than two years after the date of the medical malpractice incident.
If a person, family, or entity can prove fraud, concealment, or misrepresentation, the statute of repose may be extended to seven years. However, proving it can be very difficult to do in a court of law.
Medical Malpractice Questions and Answers
Why do I need a medical malpractice lawyer?
It’s incredibly overwhelming to not only require medical attention but to then suffer from medical malpractice as well. It can also be difficult to know where to turn. Legally, you can handle your medical malpractice case on your own, but that means you’ll need to navigate complex legal matters and go up against large insurance companies on your own.
An experienced West Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyer will be your best advocate. They can fight for your right to seek compensation and ensure you’re being treated fairly throughout the legal process.
Your medical malpractice lawyer will handle all of the communications with the insurance companies, can effectively evaluate what your claim is worth, and will negotiate the best possible settlement for your case.
Should I let my insurance cover a medical malpractice injury?
Your medical malpractice settlement could be affected if your insurance company covers part or all of your medical expenses. If this happens, healthcare providers and insurance companies can issue a lien against your settlement proceeds, which would in turn reduce the amount you receive in the settlement.
A medical lien is a demand for repayment placed against the settlement amount of your malpractice case. However, liens are negotiable and can even be disputed.
If you are unsure of how your health insurance could affect your medical malpractice lawsuit, contact the experienced lawyers at Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath. They can advise you of your legal rights and options and work on your behalf to seek maximum compensation for your damages.
Should I involve the police in my medical malpractice claim?
Typically, medical malpractice cases are settled in civil, not criminal, court. Civil court handles personal injury cases including medical malpractice. Criminal court does not handle compensation but seeks to punish the defendant.
Victims of medical malpractice often choose to file a complaint against a medical professional with their state’s medical board as well. The board is responsible for reviewing complaints and referring them to another agency if needed, including the police. Medical malpractice cases that can lead to criminal charges include:
- Healthcare fraud
- A medical professional caused intentional harm to a patient
- Prescribing drugs in exchange for a kickback from a medication manufacturer
- Conducting unnecessary procedures
While filing a complaint with a medical board or the police may lead to an investigation, it does not initiate a medical malpractice lawsuit. If you believe you have grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, consult with an experienced West Palm Beach attorney first. Your lawyer can advise you of your legal options and propose the next steps for you to seek compensation for your damages.
What differentiates medical malpractice from negligence?
While medical malpractice is a type of negligence, the key difference between the two terms is intent.
Medical negligence is when a medical professional makes a mistake that results in unintended harm. Medical malpractice is when a medical professional knowingly fails to uphold the proper standard of care.
Medical malpractice does not automatically imply malicious intent; however, the medical professional made a conscious choice that led to injury to the patient when there was an alternative available. Learn more in our FAQ ” What is the difference between medical malpractice and medical negligence?”
How does liability work for my medical malpractice injury?
Physicians typically come to mind first when we think of liability in medical malpractice cases. However, the truth is that there is a wide variety of medical professionals that may be held liable in these cases:
Additionally, there are cases when the medical facility itself can be held liable for medical malpractice. Clinics, hospitals, private care practices, and urgent care centers can all be held liable. For example, if an injury or infection is caused by unsanitary conditions or incompetent medical staff, the facility itself may be found liable. Learn more in our FAQ “Who can be held liable for my medical malpractice injury?”