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Suffering From Medical Negligence? Our Expert Medical Malpractice Lawyers Will Advocate For Your Rights.
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Walking into a clinic or a hospital typically involves some degree of trust. It’s an unspoken agreement that the professional in white coats you're entrusting with your health will uphold the highest standard of their profession - to “do no harm.” This trust is too often misplaced. Every year, an estimated 12 million Americans are misdiagnosed, over 1.7 million suffer infections in hospitals, and around 250,000 die from medical mistakes - the third highest cause of death in the United States.
It's important to recognize the immense strains placed on healthcare providers. Doctors typically work 40-60 hours per week on average, with nearly 40% exceeding 60 hours. Factors like understaffing, overtime, paperwork overload, 16+ hour shifts, and too many patients can easily lead to oversights. Nevertheless, while these factors may explain medical mistakes, they do not excuse negligence. Legal standards demand healthcare providers maintain a level of care equal to their professional peers. If they fail to do so, they must be held accountable - you should not have to bear alone the emotional, physical and financial consequences of their mistake.
Maybe you received a defective hip or knee implant, like the recalled Exactech devices, that caused severe complications and required painful revision surgery. Or your loved one had a poorly-designed IVC filter implanted to prevent pulmonary embolisms, only for it to fracture and migrate, causing life-threatening internal bleeding. Or imagine your mother goes in for a simple knee replacement surgery. Instead of walking out on her new knee, she’s wheeled into the ICU with a severe postoperative infection - all because surgical equipment wasn’t properly sterilized.
These breaches of trust carry a steep human cost. A careless mistake can be the difference between a child's first day of school and a lifetime of specialized care. It can mean the difference between growing old with a loved one and mourning their premature passing. In a society where healthcare is both complex and critical for survival, there’s no room for compromise on quality or ethics. If you’ve suffered an injury or worsened condition as a result of medical malpractice, your voice deserves to be heard. Contact Wettermark Keith's medical malpractice attorneys today at 877-715-9300 for a free consultation. Our experienced team will listen to your story with compassion, advocate for your rights throughout the process, and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional or organization fails to meet the accepted medical standard of care in treating a patient, resulting in preventable injury, harm, or death. Both action and inaction, if leading to harm, can constitute medical negligence. For an act of medical negligence to be considered malpractice, it must directly cause damages that would not have occurred if proper medical procedures were followed. Malpractice can occur across various healthcare settings, including but not limited to hospitals, clinics, dental offices, nursing homes, and pharmacies.
Common Grounds for Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice claims can be based on a variety of situations, including:
Failure of a doctor or medical provider to diagnose serious conditions like cancer or heart disease in a timely manner.
Surgical mistakes, such as operating on the wrong body part or leaving a foreign object inside a patient.
Anesthesia errors leading to a harmful or fatal outcome for a patient.
Medication mistakes, like a doctor administering the wrong drug to a patient or causing an overdose.
Preventable infections contracted during a hospital stay.
Birth injuries, like cerebral palsy, caused by negligence of a medical provider during delivery.
The Four Pillars of a Medical Malpractice Claim
For a claim to be valid according to medical malpractice laws, four fundamental criteria must be established:
Duty of Care - A doctor-patient or nurse-patient relationship must exist. All licensed medical professionals owe a duty of care to patients under their treatment. This includes physicians, nurses, dentists, therapists and more.
Breach of Duty - The medical provider must have deviated from accepted medical standards and failed to deliver necessary care. Mistakes leading to patient harm, such as an inaccurate diagnosis or preventable post-operative infection, constitute a breach of duty.
Causation - The breach of duty must directly cause tangible harm. This can be demonstrated through evidence, such as medical records and expert testimony.
Damages - Quantifiable losses, both economic and non-economic, must occur as a result of the provider's negligence. This includes medical costs, lost wages, disability, pain and suffering, and even wrongful death. Damages validate the real-world impact of the provider’s malpractice.
All four elements must be present to merit a malpractice claim. Ultimately, the healthcare provider must have (1) owed a duty of care which (2) they breached through substandard care that (3) demonstrably caused (4) harm or injury to the patient. Our experienced medical malpractice attorneys can assess the specifics of your case to determine if your situation meets these criteria.
If You Suspect You Have a Claim...
Surviving medical negligence can leave you traumatized, overwhelmed, and unsure of how to even begin seeking justice. In this situation, the initial steps you take are critical for a future claim. Here is what you can do if you believe malpractice has occurred:
Document Your Story - document in as much detail as possible the timeline of events leading up to and following the incident/s of suspected malpractice. Keep notes of relevant conversations, dates of treatment, names of providers involved, and the development of any injuries or conditions. Photos and videos can also help capture critical evidence.
Gather Medical Records - obtain complete documentation of your care, including charts, diagnostic reports, surgical notes, prescriptions, specialist referrals, hospital discharge papers, and anything else related to your treatment. Comprehensive records establish a timeline.
Seek Medical Opinions - consult with independent specialists and get their expert opinion on whether your care met or deviated from accepted medical standards. Their testimony strengthens claims of negligence.
Act Quickly - every state has strict statutes of limitations on the time frame to take legal action, often just 1 or 2 years from the date of injury or discovery of negligence. Do not delay consulting a malpractice attorney.
Find an Advocate - contact an attorney experienced in medical malpractice litigation. Legal expertise is crucial to successfully advocating for your rights and securing fair compensation for your losses. Our experienced medical malpractice attorneys can guide you through the complexities of establishing your case, negotiating settlements, and pursuing litigation. They will seek out and evaluate all available evidence in your case, advise you of your rights and options, deal directly with hospital insurers, and fight tirelessly to ensure you receive maximum compensation for your suffering.
How Do I Know I Have a Valid Medical Malpractice Case?
Medical malpractice cases can be incredibly complicated and hard to prove, as it is often unclear whether medical errors amount to legally-defined malpractice. An attorney can conduct a thorough investigation of your claim to determine the validity of your case. They will take a variety of factors into account, including:
Records indicating substandard care that caused your preventable injury
Expert opinions supporting that medical care standards were breached
Evidence and documentation showing clear causation
The nature and extent of your damages/losses
Applicable state laws, regulations, and legal precedents
Most importantly, your medical malpractice attorney will assess your case to ensure it meets the four central criteria (duty, breach, causation and damages) of legal medical malpractice. They will be able to determine what constitutes genuine medical malpractice versus an unavoidable complication. With one of our expert attorneys guiding the progress of your case, you can have greater confidence in its success.
How To File a Medical Malpractice Claim
The process of formally filing a medical malpractice claim begins with first consulting an attorney experienced in this highly specialized realm of personal injury law. They will conduct a thorough investigation into your case to determine if the four key criteria are met: duty, breach, causation, and damages.
If the case appears to have merit, they will file a demand letter with the liable healthcare provider and/or their malpractice insurer, laying out the allegations of negligence and demanding a settlement. If this demand is rejected or countered with an inadequate offer, a medical malpractice lawsuit is then filed in civil court.
Lawsuits must adhere to strict procedural rules, beginning with the filing of a comprehensive complaint detailing the plaintiff's allegations. The defense responds, negotiations ensue, and an investigative phase called discovery commences where each side can request relevant documentation.
Depositions may also be conducted, allowing attorneys to interview parties and witnesses under oath. As this unfolds over months to years, most cases end up settling out of court. However, if no settlement is reached, a trial proceeds with arguments heard before a judge or jury who then issues the final verdict.
An Uphill Battle: Challenges of Proving a Medical Malpractice Claim
Medical malpractice claims face considerable burdens of proof. Unfortunately, many end up being dismissed or unsuccessfully tried - especially when the plaintiff has poor legal representation. Common challenges facing a medical malpractice claim include:
Establishing a clear breach - healthcare standards often allow for some judgment calls, meaning plaintiffs must prove their provider blatantly violated standards.
Proving causation - it can be difficult to demonstrate harm to the plaintiff was a direct result of negligence, rather than a complication or preexisting condition.
Accessing qualified experts - finding reputable medical specialists willing to testify against their peers can be an obstacle. However, their testimony is critical.
Minimizing negligence - records may be incomplete or altered by medical providers seeking to cover up mistakes.
High standard of proof - the level of proof required for a medical malpractice claim is extremely strict compared to ordinary injury lawsuits.
Expensive litigation - costs of depositions, experts, records, attorney fees can exceed the financial means of the plaintiff. Fortunately, Wettermark Keith attorneys work on a contingency basis, meaning you will pay nothing up front or out of pocket. Any legal fees will be collected at the conclusion of the case, and only if they win.
Choosing the Right Medical Malpractice Attorney
Pursuing compensation for medical malpractice is a complex, challenging, and often emotional process. To successfully hold negligent doctors accountable, you need a skilled attorney. When seeking legal counsel, look for substantial experience litigating malpractice cases - as well as past results. It's important to ensure your lawyer is familiar with the obstacles these claims face.
Your attorney should have ample resources - in funding, time, and legal expertise - to conduct exhaustive investigations, obtain all relevant records, take detailed depositions, and cover any other costs that arise. Similarly, make sure they have access to a network of credible experts who can evaluate your case and testify concerning your medical provider's breach of duty. Securing reputable specialist opinions can make or break a claim.
While most malpractice cases settle out of court, your lawyer should still be prepared to take your case to trial if needed. While negotiation skills are certainly paramount, your lawyer must also be willing to provide aggressive advocacy - all the way to the courtroom, if necessary.
Above all, you need an attorney who will treat you with compassion. Reliving traumatic medical experiences can be emotionally taxing. Attitude and bedside manner matters when choosing who to trust with your story. We're proud to report that our attorneys make compassion a pillar of their practice.
Frequently Asked Questions
A medical malpractice case should be filed as soon as possible once negligence is suspected and permanent injury or harm has occurred. Most states impose a statute of limitations of 1-3 years from the date of injury to file a claim. Soon after the incident, it's important to begin gathering documentation like medical records, and consult with an attorney while details are still fresh. Building a viable case takes time. However, it's also important not to rush a case prematurely without sufficient evidence of malpractice. An attorney can advise you about the optimal timing for officially filing your medical malpractice lawsuit. Your priority should be to file your claim before the statutory window expires.
Medical malpractice is alarmingly widespread. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, over 250,000 Americans die every year from medical negligence - making it the 3rd leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer. Other estimates suggest 12 million people are misdiagnosed annually. Up to 80,000 hospital patients suffer from preventable infections. Study after study reveals striking rates of malpractice, often exceeding heart disease or cancer in some age groups. Collectively, the data shows medical errors affect over 1 in 10 patients.
Hospitals and doctors often push to settle medical malpractice claims out of court to avoid the risks and costs of trial. Even when faced with strong evidence of negligence, they may offer unreasonable settlement terms to avoid going before a jury. Our experienced attorneys are fully prepared to reject inadequate settlements and take your case to trial if that becomes necessary. Your lawyer will fight relentlessly to hold negligent parties fully accountable for the harm they have caused, whether through fair settlement or at trial.
Common types of injury from medical negligence include misdiagnosed or delayed diagnosis of cancer, surgical errors causing disfigurement or permanent disability, anesthesia-related brain damage, medication overdoses, delivery-related injuries to infants, neglected infections, and wrongful death. Cases can also arise from failure to screen for disease, improper prescriptions, radiation overexposure, and more. The range of preventable injuries attributable to malpractice is vast.
Most doctors face no disciplinary action, even when found guilty of malpractice, unless there is criminal-level recklessness or impairment involved. State medical boards tend to be reluctant to revoke licenses. However, large malpractice payouts must be reported and can prompt investigations of a doctor's overall history. If a pattern of gross negligence or substance abuse exists, sanctions like license suspension are possible.
To file a successful medical malpractice claim, you will likely need:
- Complete medical records like charts, lab/test results, specialist referrals
- An itemized list of all medical costs incurred
- Documentation of related lost income and expenses
- Written accounts from the plaintiff detailing the events
- Photographic evidence of injuries when applicable
- Written expert opinions from independent specialists validating malpractice.
On average, resolving a medical malpractice claim through settlement or trial takes 16-24 months. However, highly complex cases with extensive damages can drag on for years. Factors affecting timelines include the responsiveness of both parties during evidence collection, how readily insurance companies engage in settlement talks, the degree of disagreement on liability, whether plaintiff medical experts can be found, and the court's calendar if going to trial. Our skilled malpractice attorneys actively work to expedite resolution, but true justice often takes time.
Medical Malpractice Claims and Informed Consent
If you were injured in a procedure but the doctor claims that you signed off on the potential of injury, you may need to claim a lack of informed consent. Before operating or performing any medical care, doctors are required to obtain your informed consent, a document stating that you understand the benefits and dangers that you are undertaking by agreeing to a certain course of medical treatment.
By informing you properly, a medical professional allows you to make a choice over whether or not to pursue the recommended course of health care. It is your right in these cases to be able to decline that procedure if you are not comfortable with the risks; therefore, if you were not previously informed of the details of the treatment, you were not able to make the decision to accept care with full knowledge of the benefits and drawbacks of the method of treatment.
If you do not believe you were properly informed by your doctor before agreeing to a treatment, call Wettermark Keith today to to contact attorneys to start claiming medical malpractice through failure to provide informed consent.
Have You Been the Victim of Medical Malpractice?
Our Lawyers Can Help.
Dealing with the consequences of medical malpractice can feel overwhelming. You may be dealing with painful physical and emotional consequences of your provider's negligence, facing mounting medical bills and intense financial strain as you search for answers. You don’t have to handle this alone. Our lawyers are here to support you through this difficult process and conduct a thorough investigation into your case. If you have a valid claim, our attorneys will work alongside you to demand accountability.
Don't let fear or uncertainty prevent you from seeking justice. Medical malpractice should be dealt with seriously, and the best way to win your case is to tell your story - your pain, your suffering, and your needs. We will ensure that your voice is heard - and that you have the financial resources you need to move forward with your life, knowing justice has been served.
When you're ready to file your claim, call our team at (877) 715-9300 to speak to a representative about your case today! We're available to chat 24/7, although you can also fill out our online form or chat with us online. With offices located throughout Alabama, Tennessee, and Florida, Wettermark Keith has an excellent reputation as one of the most accomplished personal injury firms in the country. Our reach is not only regional, but it also includes a diverse range of practice areas, including medical malpractice law. We believe in taking cases personally. Our purpose is to practice with care and compassion - to tell our clients’ stories and make their voices heard. Our attorneys do this by building strong relationships based on constant communication and an unwavering dedication to truth and trust. People trust us because they’ve seen the results.
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