When you visit any medical facility, you expect that the providers working there are competent, trained, and focused on doing the best job possible. Your health and life are on the line. Hospitals, urgent care centers, and other healthcare facilities should be dedicated to getting every decision right, every time.
However, when a doctor or nurse fails to do their job correctly, people like you suffer as a result. When you or someone you love has been injured or made sick by the negligence or carelessness of a healthcare provider, you need legal guidance. At Calbom & Schwab, you can work with a skilled Washington medical malpractice lawyer to seek the compensation you deserve.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is often used to describe any situation where a patient’s outcome is affected by a medical practitioner’s mistake. There are adverse events, medical errors, medical negligence, and medical malpractice. These can be defined as:
- Adverse event: An adverse event is one that could not be predicted and was not expected, such as a patient having an unexpected allergic reaction to a drug.
- Medical error: When a healthcare worker gives a patient the wrong dosage or fails to give the medicine at the right time, this usually constitutes a medical error. Intent to harm is not part of a medical error.
- Medical negligence: If a practitioner fails to correctly diagnose an illness or injury or does not follow the accepted medical standard of care for a patient, it could be categorized as medical negligence.
- Medical malpractice: When medical negligence results in injury or illness for the patient, it rises to the level of malpractice.
A medical malpractice lawsuit is possible when an attorney can show that the decisions or actions of your healthcare providers directly caused the illness, injury, or death of a patient. They may have been merely negligent, or they may have intentionally deviated from the recommended treatment standard. In addition, if the doctor, nurse, or other provider does not act quickly enough, they may also be guilty of medical malpractice.
The key factor is that they follow the accepted standard of care that a reasonable doctor would follow in a similar situation. If they do not, and the patient suffers harm, then there could be grounds for a medical malpractice claim.
Medical Malpractice Claims Can Be Challenging to Prove
Many states, including Washington, make it difficult to bring a medical malpractice suit. Groups representing hospitals and doctors often lobby state legislatures to put up roadblocks against individuals filing claims. Trying to hold a medical provider or facility accountable on your own will quickly frustrate most people.
Using a qualified medical malpractice attorney who knows the laws in Washington State is your best hope for presenting the strongest case against the practitioner who hurt you. Each case requires a full investigation of the events involved and a careful development of evidence to prove negligence.
According to the Revised Code of Washington, Section 7.70.030, medical malpractice lawyers must demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence one of more of these conditions:
- Your injury is a result of the healthcare practitioner’s failure to adhere to the accepted standard of medical care for your condition.
- Your practitioner promised you or your representative that the injury or illness would not occur from their care choice.
- You did not consent to the healthcare choice that caused your injury or illness.
Even though these seem like simple conditions to prove, the terms used by the law can be extremely complex and make it challenging to hold providers accountable. The phrase “healthcare provider” is usually associated with doctors, nurses, and physicians’ assistants. However, in Washington State, it can also cover a wide range of other occupations, such as:
- Eastern medicine providers
- Osteopathic practitioners
- Physical therapists
The definition can even extend to all employees in a facility or professional’s office, such as receptionists and other staff. Further, under the Revised Code of Washington, Section 7.70.050, informed consent requires proof of additional elements to successfully establish a lack of consent from the patient. At Calbom & Schwab, our medical malpractice lawyers are experienced with these fine details and will interpret the law to your advantage for your case.
Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim in Washington State
One of the ways the state reduces the number of medical malpractice suits brought against providers is by mandating mediation procedures prior to filing a lawsuit. Under Section 7.70.100 of the Revised Code of Washington, you and the accountable party must attempt to work out a settlement with the help of an independent third-party mediator. This person must have expertise in handling these interactions as they relate to healthcare-related cases. They must also have been a member of the state bar association for at least five years or be a retired judge.
Make no mistake – hospitals and doctors will hire very experienced attorneys to represent them for mediation. Your mediator will also be a lawyer. It only makes sense that you bring an accomplished medical malpractice lawyer with you to give you the best chance of a favorable settlement. Your attorney can negotiate for full coverage of your damages and push back against unfavorable offers while you focus on healing.
However, sometimes, going to court is the best option for you to seek justice for how you have been wronged by the provider’s negligence. Mediation is a first step, but by law, it does not stop you from going to trial. When you are ready to file, Calbom & Schwab will handle all the details for you. We recognize that when you are hurting from your injury or illness, you need someone on your side to fight for you.
Washington State medical malpractice statute of limitations
The statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Washington is three years from the date of the injury or one year from the day when the patient should have discovered the injury. Interpreting how this applies to you requires an experienced attorney to ensure you do not miss filing your claim on time.
You should schedule a free consultation with your lawyer as soon as possible to avoid losing your chance to seek compensation.
Why Use a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Near Me?
Not only does it benefit you to use medical malpractice attorneys who are skilled in medical injury law, but your case is always stronger when you use someone who has experience interpreting state and local laws for this kind of claim. A medical malpractice case is often very technical, requiring extended review and analysis of medical records.
At Calbom & Schwab, our professional staff includes individuals who can perform these reviews and identify contributing factors to your injury, such as:
- Failure to diagnose
- Failure to correctly read or order diagnostic tests
- Surgical errors, such as operating on the wrong site
- Performing unnecessary procedures
- Prescription errors, such as overlooking contraindications
- Failure to correctly identify medication conflicts before prescribing a drug
- Improper follow-up or early discharge
Our team will work to gather records and documentation to demonstrate negligence from your provider. Medical professionals review your materials to determine if malpractice occurred and consult with us throughout your case.
In cases where the patient dies, our medical malpractice attorneys can proceed with additional legal actions, such as a wrongful death case.
Proving Negligence in a Medical Malpractice Claim
If mediation has not yielded a satisfactory settlement and we proceed to trial, our attorneys will work to build a strong case indicating negligence. This requires proving certain elements to justify the claim and your need for compensation.
A valid medical malpractice claim must meet the following criteria:
There Was a Patient-Provider Relationship
You must show that your provider had a relationship with you as a patient and that you had a reasonable expectation of competent care from this relationship.
The Provider Owed You a Duty of Care
You must show that your medical provider had a legal responsibility to provide adequate care and cause no harm to you. They owed you a duty of care.
The Provider Failed or Breached Their Duty of Care
Competent medical care means that providers must follow the accepted standard of care for your condition. This can vary somewhat according to your age, pre-existing conditions, and other factors, but there are minimums required for every patient. When your healthcare practitioner does not meet these standards, they fail in their duty of care to you.
Failing to act or intentionally ignoring the accepted practice can establish negligence. This also holds true for a failure to predict injury, illness, or death as a result of the treatment or lack of treatment.
The Provider’s Failure Directly Led to Your Injury or Illness
Potentially the most important part of the negligence argument, your attorney must show a direct link between the provider’s failure in their duty and your injury or illness. This connection must be strongly supported by the evidence because the provider’s attorney is likely to argue that your harm was due to other factors.
This is why having healthcare professionals as part of your legal team is essential. A thorough review of the medical records in the context of the law means your attorney can be prepared to rebut these claims and protect your case.
You Have Financial Damages From Your Injury or Illness
Once your lawyer has shown the direct link between the provider’s negligence and your injury, they have a solid basis for proving that you have suffered economic and non-economic damages as a result. Your attorney will rely on medical records and receipts, plus testimony from medical experts who can address the amount of harm you have experienced.
Sources of Evidence to Support Your Claim
Supporting your medical malpractice claim requires powerful evidence to convince the jury and judge that your damage request is valid. Your attorney will gather materials such as:
- Medical bills
- Full medical records and notes
- Photos and video of your injuries
- Detail on the accepted standard of care for your condition
- Statements from witnesses
- Disciplinary records from the Washington Medical Commission
Potential Damages for a Washington State Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Suffering illness or injury from someone else’s negligence when you trusted doctors and others to care for you properly could be debilitating. You may have had an elective surgery that turned into a nightmare when the wrong procedure was performed. A physician’s distraction or lack of care could leave you with permanent effects and devastating medical debt.
No matter how much your life has changed, you deserve to be compensated for every penny. Any expense you have that would not have occurred otherwise is an expense that must be repaid to you. Your bills and other items with a fixed monetary value make up your economic losses. The pain, suffering, and emotional toll from medical malpractice are your non-economic losses.
Calbom & Schwab are highly experienced in calculating the damages you should seek and can help you consider losses you may have overlooked. For example, some common items included in compensation demands are:
- All medical bills for your initial complaint
- All medical bills for any treatment required due to negligence
- ER, ICU, and surgery costs
- Medications, both prescription and over-the-counter
- Medical aids and devices, such as wheelchairs or prosthetics
- Lost wages while you recover
- Loss of future income if you are permanently disabled from work
- Amputation, scarring, or disfigurement
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium with your partner or spouse
- Loss of reputation
- Physical and mental pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
If your injury or condition is especially catastrophic, you may need treatment or care for the rest of your life. In the case of a younger person, they may need someone to care for them around the clock for years to come. Your attorney can gather a prognosis to help estimate the full range of the reimbursement your case requires.
Contact a Washington Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today
Suffering additional pain or illness due to a medical provider’s negligence can turn your world upside down. Even if the damage is something you can overcome, you still deserve to see justice for medical malpractice. You and your family experience a financial, emotional, and physical toll.
While you recover, you deserve the peace of mind of knowing that someone is fighting hard to protect your future. Our firm dedicates itself to ensuring medical providers are held accountable when they are negligent in their duties. Do not risk losing the chance to seek compensation for your injury or illness.
Use our online form to schedule a free, no-risk, no-obligation consultation with a Washington medical malpractice lawyer from Calbom & Schwab today.