Medical Malpractice Settlements

People seeking medical malpractice settlements should not rush hastily to court but instead take time to carefully consider all aspects of their case. This is keeping in line with Biblical principles. Proverbs says that people should not rush hastily to court. And, most cases don't ever reach court. Recent research indicates that about 80,000 patients fall victim to medical malpractice each year. Research also shows that only one out of eight victims will file a lawsuit. In approximately 96 percent of the cases involving suspected negligence the victim's lawyer and the doctor's insurance adjuster negotiate out-of-court settlements. Although out-of-court awards are often lower than jury awards, avoiding court speeds the process and saves money. Some states allow arbitration to determine medical malpractice settlements, which also speeds the process considerably. Both sides can benefit from reading what the Bible has to say concerning disputes. "Agree with thine adversary quickly, whilst thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing." (Matthew 5:25-26)

Some sources indicate that the median range for of out-of-court awards is $125,000. That is considerably lower than jury awards, which is about $235,000. Determining the exact cause of a person's injury can be complicated and time consuming. Each case has its own unique elements. One common definition of malpractice is the negligent or wrongful conduct of a practitioner that directly results in injury. Two types of awards granted in medical malpractice settlements are actual damages and punitive damages. Actual damages are compensation to cover out-of-pocket expenses, medical bills, lost income or profits, and pain and suffering resulting from the injury. Punitive damages are considered when a lawsuit involves extreme negligence and are awarded far less frequently than actual damages. A bad experience doesn't necessarily equate to malpractice. In order to prove negligence, a person generally uses expert testimony saying that no other practitioner would have acted in the same manner. Medical malpractice settlements are normally determined based not only on expert testimony, but also on available knowledge and accepted medical practices at the time of the injury. This is often referred to as the standard of care, which is defined by the medical community. However, the states define negligence.

An attorney may refuse to take a medical malpractice case for any number of reasons. After reviewing a case, the attorney may decide that credible expert testimony is lacking, or the costs of taking the case to trial are greater than the possible returns. The severity of the injury and the existence of an informed consent waiver that warned the person of the risks and possible consequences of the procedure may be reasons a lawyer refuses a case. If a person believes they have adequate reason to pursue a medical malpractice settlement, they should know that state laws allow patients access to copies of their health records. Usually a person can't sue for what they believe might have happened. And misdiagnosis is not automatically considered negligent. Malpractice is not limited to doctors. Nurses, technicians, physical therapists, and others could be sued for negligence as well. If questions persist before undergoing a procedure, check the practitioner's background and credentials. Also, it might be possible make an inquiry at the state medical board office to see if a doctor has ever been involved in a lawsuit before.

If an attorney accepts a case and decides to pursue medical malpractice settlements, he or she will most likely work based on a contingency fee system. Basically, their getting paid is contingent on winning the case and receiving a predetermined percentage of the damages awarded. Generally, state statutes control what a settlement can be based on. Past, present, and future medical expenses for treatment of the injury are taken into consideration. Other financial and economic damages and pain and suffering can be considered by juries. Unfortunately, lawsuits can be long, bitter affairs and will incur a great deal of expenses for both sides. Therefore, it is often recommended that, if a person does receive a settlement offer, they should thoroughly discuss it with an attorney. Medical malpractice settlements vary from case to case, so there is no normal or set amount that a jury must award. The jury will take into consideration the many elements involved to determine a reasonable settlement. What impact did the injury have on a person's earning capacity or life functions? For example, can the individual continue to work or is he or she unable to walk or use their arms? How the jury perceives the injured party may also significantly affect the settlement, which has no set minimum or maximum amount.

When deciding to pursue medical malpractice settlements, a person should know the definition of a few legal terms. First, is what's known as subrogation, which is a practice that allows an insurance company or person that has paid the expenses incurred as a result of the injury to recover those costs from the person determined legally liable for the injury. Another useful concept to know is called contributing negligence. This occurs because the injured person failed to exercise due care and contributed to the injury. Preponderance of evidence is when one party's evidence is more convincing than what is offered by the opposition. Finally, statute of limitations are set by law and they vary from state to state. Statute of limitations normally range from one year to seven years. In closing, following most medical malpractice settlements a release will be signed that forever prevents a person from pursuing the case again.

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