If you or a loved one has been injured by medical malpractice, a hospital, physician, or other health care provider or facility can be held liable for the injuries inflicted and damages suffered. However, when a medical negligence claim is being brought, the nature of the relationship between the practitioner and the facility plays a major role in who is held liable for what.
While patients don’t have a legal right to superior customer services at hospitals, they are entitled to receive a basic level of quality care that complies with the applicable “standard of care”. When that “standard of care” is not followed, and when the conduct or conditions at a hospital are substandard, that care may then be deemed medical malpractice, and the patient who has been injured has a legal right to be compensated for any harm suffered. It isn’t always easy to determine who is liable for the damages though, so a medical malpractice attorney will be needed to determine how to proceed with your claim.
A medical malpractice attorney will determine if the facility, doctor, or an independent contractor is responsible for the injuries suffered by the patient. This depends significantly on whether the hospital is the doctor’s employer, if the doctor is an independent contractor, or if the doctor is employed by a company that is contracted with the hospital to provide medical care to patients. There are some issues unique to medical malpractice claims that involve hospitals that will help you avoid the pitfalls and allow you to proceed with your claim to recover compensation for your injuries.
The Process of Pursuing A Medical Malpractice Claim
First, your medical malpractice attorney will have to determine who is legally responsible for the damages. Just because the act of medical negligence happened at the hospital, does not necessarily mean that the hospital is legally responsible for the damages that you suffered. Hospitals are just like other employers. They are vicariously responsible for an employee’s negligence, but not for the negligence of independent contractors.
Next, all claims have a statute of limitations. States establish strict statutes of limitations for different kinds of lawsuits. While statutes of limitations vary from state to state, in California the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice claim is within a year of when the patient discovers or should have discovered the injury or within three years of the date of the injury, whichever comes first. If you don’t file your claim within that timeframe, your claim will most likely be dismissed. Your medical malpractice attorney will be sure your claim is filed in a timely manner.
In some states, although not in California, a plaintiff may need to prepare a certificate of merit. An affidavit of merit or certificate of merit involves retaining an expert medical witness to review the medical records that are relevant to the case and then assert under oath that the health care provider failed to follow those accepted practices and provide adequate care. The expert witness will assert that breach of care caused the injuries that resulted.
Seeking Legal Guidance
Medical malpractice claims are very complicated and require intensive research and documentation. Attempting to pursue these claims on your own, without an attorney, is fraught with peril. If you believe you are the victim of medical malpractice, consult with a Los Angeles medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. To get a free evaluation of your medical malpractice claim, call The Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq. at (310) 289-2600 today.