Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Kalamazoo, Michigan
Your health is the most valuable asset you have, and it is impossible to put a price tag on it. Many people suffer a serious injury or illness at some point in their lives, and this is not always preventable. We look to healthcare professionals to provide treatment for those injuries and illnesses.
Medical treatment should not, however, make your health worse in the long term. Physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals have a legal duty to act as a reasonable healthcare professional would under the same or similar circumstances and take reasonable measures to cure their illnesses and prevent serious complications from medical procedures. When doctors make errors or otherwise fail to act reasonably, and it harms patients physically and financially, this is what we call medical malpractice. The Kalamazoo at Hoffer & Sheremet, PLC, can help you if you have suffered a serious illness or injury as a result of a preventable medical error. Medical malpractice lawyers at Hoffer & Sheremet, PLC, can help you if you have suffered a serious illness or injury because of a preventable medical error.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Personal injury law, including medical malpractice law, is based on the idea that certain relationships impose a duty of care. This means that people have a legal responsibility not to cause injury to others and not to place others at high risk of injury. At its simplest, the standard of care means the amount of care for the safety of others that a person must show. This includes following traffic laws to try to avoid accidents. In medicine, physicians have a legal duty to follow the standard of care. This means they must choose a reasonable course of action to treat the patient under the circumstances. This could include choosing the correct diagnostic testing, ordering the right medication, or performing surgery in a safe manner.
A bad outcome does not always mean that the standard of care was violated. We use expert witnesses that have the same qualifications as the defendant-healthcare provider to explain how the treatment is supposed to be done and whether the defendant did it correctly. The standard of care can change over time. Medical research is always evolving, and opinions change about the best way to perform certain treatments or about the most appropriate treatments for certain diseases.
Common Types of Medical Errors
Patients can file a medical malpractice lawsuit when the patient’s poor health outcome is the result of a negligent error or unreasonably incorrect judgment by a professional involved in the treatment of the patient. These are some common medical errors:
- Wrong diagnosis or late diagnosis – Doctors fail to correctly diagnose a patient’s disease until it is too late; the illness, injury or disease advanced and is harder or impossible to treat. A correct diagnosis would have been possible if the doctors had performed the appropriate tests or had paid better attention to the patient’s symptoms.
- Preventable adverse reactions – Doctors did not take a sufficiently thorough medical history and administered a medication that the patient should not have been given because of a pre-existing medical condition.
- Birth injury – Medical errors before, during, or immediately after childbirth cause the child to suffer a lifelong disability.
- Medication dosing errors – Patients receive the wrong dose of medication because of an error by a doctor in ordering the medication, the pharmacy in filling the prescription, or by a nurse or aide in administering it.
- Surgical errors – Surgeons negligently cause any injury that is not a recognized risk of surgery, operates on the wrong body part, post-operative fails to rule out life threatening conditions such as perforation, and instead relies on benign diagnoses of ileus.
- Emergency room errors – Emergency medicine physicians or nurses fail to properly triage patients, fail to order appropriate tests, fail to recognize and timely treat stroke or heart attack, or fail to order consults.
- Pediatric malpractice – Pediatricians or other specialists treating children fail to timely diagnose and treat a life-threatening condition.
- Radiology errors – Radiologists fail to properly interpret imaging studies such as x-rays, CT scans, MRI, or ultrasound.
There are many types of medical malpractice cases; not all medical malpractice cases fall into the above categories. You may have grounds for a medical malpractice case if your illness or injury was the direct result of a medical error.
What Compensation Can You Get From a Medical Malpractice Case?
You can be compensated for damages caused by your injury through a medical malpractice lawsuit. There are two main categories of financial compensation: “economic damages” and “non-economic damages.” Economic damages include things like medical expenses, money spent on medical equipment like wheelchairs, loss of capacity or ability to earn money, actual wages loss for time missed from work, household assistance, money spent to make accommodations to your home, mileage to healthcare appointments, and money spent on medical equipment such as wheelchairs or hospital beds. You can recover money for past medical expenses, but this money must be repaid to your health insurance company. This is called the “medical lien.”
“Pain and suffering,” which most people are familiar with, are part of non-economic damages. Non-economic damages also include compensation for stress, anxiety, depression, damage to relationships or loss of companionship for a loved one that died, or scarring or physical disfigurement. Michigan only allows patients to recover a certain amount of money for non-economic damages. This is known as the “non-economic damages cap.”. the maximum amounts change each year. For cases that settle or go to trial in 2023, the “low cap” is $537,900 and the “high cap” is $960,500. To be eligible for the high cap, the patient must have suffered one of the following:
- Are hemiplegic, paraplegic, or quadriplegic and have experienced total functioning loss of at least one limb due to brain or spinal cord injuries,
- Have permanently impaired cognitive capacity rendering them incapable of making responsible decisions and performing activities for normal living,
- (iii) Have suffered permanent loss or damage to a reproductive organ resulting in the inability to procreate.
Our Lansing Medical Malpractice attorneys can give you an estimate of the maximum amount you can receive at trial and how much you can expect to receive if your case settles.
How Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Work
Before a medical malpractice case can be filed, we gather your medical records and send for an expert review. If the expert agrees that the healthcare provider was negligent, and the negligence caused or worsened your injury or illness, we can proceed to the next step.
Michigan law requires us to issue what’s called a “Notice of Intent to Sue.” This is a letter that we send to everyone that we might include in the lawsuit. Then, we need to wait 182-days to actually file the lawsuit by filing and serving a Complaint. The 182-day waiting period is very unfair to patients, but it is the law. When we file the lawsuit, we include a document called an “Affidavit of Merit.” This is our expert’s written opinion that a breach of the standard of care caused your injury.
The defendants will answer the Complaint. Then both sides exchange written questions and ask each other for documents. This is called written discovery. Written discovery can continue throughout most of the lawsuit. But after the initial discovery is exchanged, we begin depositions. A deposition is a time for the lawyers to ask witnesses questions that the witnesses answer under oath.
Throughout the lawsuit, either side can ask the judge to make legal rulings. That is done by filing motions. Sometimes, the losing side can appeal the judge’s decisions. That can add years onto the lawsuit.
Settlement discussions can happen any time, but usually, formal settlement discussions take place after discovery and motions. Generally, the parties hire a mediator. The mediator goes between the parties exchanging settlement numbers. If a settlement is reached, the case is over.
If the parties cannot agree on a settlement amount, the case goes to trial. You can read in more detail about the progression of medical malpractice cases in our article Med Mal 101.
Contact a Kalamazoo Medical Malpractice Lawyer
A medical malpractice lawyer can help you if you suffered serious injury caused by a healthcare provider’s negligence that significantly impacted you financially. Contact Hoffer & Shemeret, PLC, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, to discuss your case.
Our intake team will ask you about what happened. It helps to have a timeline written down to reference. Our attorneys will discuss the case and might meet with you or have a phone call. If we think you have a viable medical malpractice case, we would help you gather your medical records and proceed with investigation.
Areas We Cover
- Anesthesia Complications
- Brain Injury
- Emergency Room Errors
- Delayed Diagnosis
- Medication Errors
- Bed Sores and Other Pressure Ulcers
- Hospital Negligence
- Nursing Negligence
- Ureter and Bladder Injuries
- Pediatric Errors
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Surgical Errors
- Bowel Injuries
- Patient Falls