When you have put your trust, faith, and health in the hands of your medical team, and that trust is violated, you need an experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney on your side, fighting for your rights. Medical providers take an oath to “Do no harm.” Patients not only trust their medical providers to maintain a standard of care, we also have faith that their actions will help us to live a long and healthy life. When you or someone you love is injured due to the negligence of a medical provider, the results can be devastating. At Ritchie Reiersen Law, we understand how much of an impact a medical error can have on an individual and their family – impacts that can last for years. Call today to speak with an experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney about your experience. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation. (888) 884-7337.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Most medical procedures contain a certain element of risk, and we agree to that when we seek medical care. However, when a doctor or other healthcare provider makes an error in judgment, or is otherwise negligent, the results can be catastrophic and the injury to the patient can last a lifetime. This is what we would define as medical malpractice. Because there is always some inherent risk to medical procedures, however, be advised that not all adverse outcomes are grounds for a medical malpractice claim.
In order to prove medical malpractice, one must prove that the physician or other healthcare provider was negligent or that they failed to deliver the accepted standard of care to the patient – and that the injury or other adverse outcome was a direct result of that action. Medical malpractice cases in Washington must be reviewed by other experts in the field to ensure they are not “frivolous” (referred to as getting a Certificate of Merit), and overall can be both time consuming and costly to pursue.
If you believe your medical provider acted with negligence in their care of you or your loved one, contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer to review your experience and get their educated opinion on the strength of your case. If there truly were negligent actions on the part of the physician, it is important that they are held responsible for their actions – not only to help you find closure and receive the compensation you deserve, but also to prevent a similar experience for others in the future.
Types of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice can come in various forms. Some of the most common causes of injury in a healthcare setting include:
- Surgical errors– severed nerves, incorrect procedure, infection, improper administration of anesthesia.
- Medication errors – wrong medication or wrong dosage, drug interactions, drug allergies.
- Incorrect diagnosis – unnecessary surgery or exposure to harmful therapy.
- Treatment without proper constent.
- Nursing home abuse and neglect.
- Birth injury – delivery error and injury, missed signs of fetal distress, delayed C-section.
- Mental health therapist abuse.
- Failure to diagnose – cancer, heart attacks, or other serious conditions, which could result in delays in treatment or death.
What Type of Compensation is Involved in Medical Malpractice?
Compensation for damages is generally split up into two categories:
- Economic damages generally compensate an injured patient for out-of-pocket costs: Includes current and future medical expenses, long term care, assistive equipment and home modification expenses, lost wages, loss of earning power, etc.
- Non-economic damages compensate for subjective harm, and is much more difficult to calculate: Includes compensation for pain and suffering, loss of relationships, impacts on quality of life, scarring and disfigurement, etc.
In Washington state, unlike most other states, punitive damages typically cannot be awarded in medical malpractice cases.
How Much Does it Cost to Have an Attorney Take My Medical Malpractice Case?
Most Medical Malpractice Lawyers work on a contingency fee system. This means that any payment due to them is contingent upon the case being won. When the case is settled or won in trial, the attorney fees are typically thirty-three percent of the full award amount – this will cover the attorney’s time as well as the fees they paid in preparing a strong case. It is worth noting, however, that there are no upfront costs to hire an attorney, and all fees will be plainly written out and agreed upon prior to signing a contract together – so there won’t be any expensive surprises at the end of the case.
What Should I Do If I Believe I Have a Medical Malpractice Claim?
If you or someone you love has been injured through what you believe to be medical malpractice, it is important to meet with an experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney as soon as possible. Not only is there a statute of limitation that dictates how long a person has to file a claim, but the details and memory of an experience are the most easily recalled shortly after it happened.
Why Call Ritchie Reiersen Law for my Medical Malpractice Case?
At Ritchie Reiersen Law, we believe the most effective lawyers are those who are passionate about helping their clients improve their situation, honest and upfront about the process, and ethical and trustworthy defenders of both the law and the rights of their clients. From the moment you walk into our offices, you’ll be treated with compassion and respect – you’ll be treated like family. With years of experience helping thousands of individuals, we have the tools that are necessary to successfully fight for the needs of our clients.
We are pleased to offer a complementary, no-obligation consultation with an experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney. With an opportunity to share your experience and ask your questions, we can help you find answers and give you honest feedback about your case. We serve in the communities surrounding Tacoma, Auburn, Yakima, Portland, and Kennewick. Because we understand that life is difficult at times, especially when you’re dealing with medical issues and injuries – if you can’t make it to us, we will come to you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice is when a healthcare professional’s negligence leads to an injury of the patient.
What do you have to prove for a successful medical malpractice lawsuit?
To secure a settlement or successful judgement of your medical malpractice case, you have to prove the following:
- Healthcare providers failed to provide the standard of care and thus failed in their duty to protect you from harm.
- Their actions – or inactions – were a direct cause of your injury.
- You suffered damages as a result of the injury.
What is the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims?
In Washington, you have three years from the time the injury occurred to bring the claim. Alternatively, you have one year from the time that you discover that your injury was caused by the negligent act to bring your claim. Depending on the circumstances of the claim, you can utilize whichever date is later. Wrongful death suits arising from medical malpractice must be filed within three years from the time the victim passed away.
In Oregon, the law states a victim must file a claim within two years of the date of the malpractice injury, or within two years of the time you should reasonably discover the injury (but this cannot be more than 5 years after the date of the injury). If the injury resulted in wrongful death, a suit must be filed within three years of the injury or discovery of the injury (again, no more than 5 years after the injury happened). If the injury happened at OHSU, they must be notified within 180 days of the date of the injury that you intend to file a lawsuit.
Are there limits to the amount of damages that can be awarded in a medical malpractice claim?
No, there are no limits to damages awarded in Washington. The State Supreme Court ruled that damage caps are unconstitutional.
Oregon does not have a cap on damages except in cases of wrongful death stemming from medical malpractice. In these cases, there is a $500,000 limit on non-economic damages awarded. The economic damages are currently still uncapped.
If I attend a mediation for my medical malpractice case, do I give up the opportunity for a trial?
No. In Washington, it is a statutory requirement that all parties involved in a medical malpractice case attend mediation. However, this does not mean you cannot proceed to a civil trial.Oregon does not have a law requiring mediation at this time.
Do I have to have a medical expert testify on my behalf for my medical malpractice claim?
Washington state does not require the testimony of a medical expert in all medical malpractice claims. In claims involving obvious malpractice – such as a foreign object left inside a surgical site – medical expert testimony is not necessary.
Proving medical malpractice in Washington does require the claimant to prove that the medical provider deviated from the standard of care, and that deviation directly caused the claimants injury. Unless the deviation was grossly outside of the standard of care, expert testimony is required for proof.
Who is liable for medical malpractice?
Any medical or healthcare provider – including but not limited to doctor, dentist, nurse, or therapist – who has caused an injury to a patient due to deviation from an acceptable standard of care can be named as defendant in a medical malpractice case. Additionally, the employer or facility (hospital, HMO, corporation, etc.) can be included in the lawsuit.
I am not happy with the results of my medical treatment. Can I sue for medical malpractice?
In order to successfully argue a medical malpractice case, you must prove the care you receive deviated from the standard of care among the profession. Often the treatment we receive is the standard of care – even if it does not produce the results we desire or hope for. This doesn’t necessarily constitute malpractice, however. If you have questions about a specific situation and you feel your healthcare provider failed to treat you appropriately, contact an experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney today for a free consultation.
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Figuring out the best course of action after a medical malpractice can be intimidating. Without taking the correct steps to protect your rights, you could miss out on a significant sum of money. Our attorneys will go the extra mile to secure the maximum compensation you deserve. To discuss the specifics of your case during a free consultation, get in touch with our office.