Most of the doctors and other healthcare professionals in Denver do their job extremely well. Unfortunately, though, there are times when some of these professionals are negligent and actually harm their patients much more than they help them. When this happens, injured or ill patients should learn about their right to file a medical malpractice claim.
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or other medical professional fails to act in a reasonable manner while treating a patient. Medical malpractice can cause serious injuries or lead to life-threatening illnesses, for which victims can seek compensation. These cases are some of the most complex of all personal injury claims, however.
If you have been injured due to medical negligence, you need an experienced Denver medical malpractice lawyer to evaluate your case. Attorney Sean Olson has extensive experience and a long track record of success handling these complicated claims. Please reach out to the Olson Law Firm today to set up a free consultation with Sean where you can talk about your case and get answers to your questions.
What Do You Have to Prove in a Denver Medical Malpractice Claim?
Like in most other personal injury claims, in a medical malpractice claim, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff, or person filing the lawsuit. That burden requires you to show that the defendant, or healthcare professional, was most likely negligent and committed medical malpractice. In order to do this, you must prove four different elements:
- The first is that a doctor-patient relationship existed between you and the healthcare professional. This means that you asked for treatment, and the doctor agreed to treat you. This element of proof does not require you to have had a longstanding relationship with the healthcare professional. Even going to an emergency room establishes the relationship because they have already agreed to see whoever came in.
- The second element you must prove is that the doctor was negligent. This will form the basis of the lawsuit. It’s important to understand that negligent does not simply mean you were unhappy with the results. Sometimes treatment isn’t successful, and there was no medical malpractice. The doctor must have been negligent, or failed to act in a manner another reasonable professional would have.
- The third element to prove is that the doctor’s negligence caused the injury. This is sometimes difficult because when a person sees a doctor, he or she is often already injured or sick to a degree. You must show that the injuries caused were a direct result of the negligence, and not another condition. For example, if a patient is being treated for cancer but passed away due to a doctor’s negligence, it can be difficult to prove that the death was due to negligence, and not the cancer.
- Lastly, you must show that the injury caused you certain losses, or damages. Without damages, there is nothing to compensate for, and therefore, there is no case.
Common Types of Medical Malpractice in Denver
Although every error a doctor makes may not be considered medical malpractice, there are some common types of negligence that our law firm has seen over the years. These include:
- Misdiagnosis: This can cause patients to endure unnecessary treatments, or prevent them from getting the right treatment. This can lead to the patient suffering great harm, or even death.
- Failure to diagnose: Sometimes doctors fail to diagnose certain conditions. When this happens, a person’s condition can worsen. If a reasonable doctor would have made a different diagnosis that would have given the patient a better result, malpractice may have been involved.
- Medication errors: There are a number of ways medication errors happen. A doctor may administer incorrect dosages of drugs or prescribe two drugs that interact with each other in a way that’s harmful for the patient. In a hospital, a doctor or nurse may administer medication to one patient that was meant for another.
- Surgical errors: There’s a lot that can go wrong during surgery, particularly if a surgeon is negligent. Surgical equipment is sometimes left inside a body, or medical staff can fail to advise patients on post-op care. Anesthesia errors could also occur, such as failing to check the patient’s vital signs or administering too much of the drug.
- Birth injuries: Sometimes babies are born with birth defects or other abnormalities that are tied to natural causes. Other times, though, doctors are negligent and don’t ensure the baby gets enough oxygen, or they fail to correctly guide the baby through the birth canal. Birth injuries due to negligence often result in brain damage, multiple broken bones, and other injuries to the infant.
- Failure to warn patient of known risks: There are many risks associated with many different types of medical treatment. Doctors have a duty to inform their patients of these risks. When they fail to do so and the patient is harmed as a result, they can be held liable for medical malpractice.
Unfortunately, these are just a few of the mistakes and negligent errors that could lead to a medical malpractice claim. If you’ve suffered from any of these, it’s time to speak to our medical malpractice lawyer in Denver.
Who Can Be Held Liable for Medical Malpractice in Denver?
When most people think of medical malpractice, they think doctors are the only ones responsible. However, there are many types of professionals in the medical field, and they all have a responsibility to keep patients safe and not cause them further harm. Below is a list of just some of the parties that may be held liable in a medical malpractice claim.
- Urgent care centers
In some cases, a medical malpractice lawsuit may even name more than one liable party. For example, if a surgeon and anesthesiologist were both negligent, injured individuals can file a lawsuit against each of them.
Understanding Modified Comparative Negligence
In a comparative negligence system, a plaintiff may still recover some of his or her damages even if he or she was partially responsible for the accident. Damages would be reduced in accordance with how much fault was assigned to the victim (if 30 percent fault was assigned, damages would be reduced by 30 percent, and so on). If a too large percentage of fault is assigned to the plaintiff, damages may not be awarded at all.
Colorado is one of 33 states that use a modified comparative negligence system or that follow the 50 percent rule. Under this system, a victim may recover damages so long as the percentage of fault assigned to him or her does not exceed 49 percent. If the level of fault reaches 50 percent, the person cannot recover damages.
Many people might assume that the modified comparative negligence rule does not apply in medical malpractice cases, but that is not true. A person can have contributed to his or her own declining health by failing to follow doctor’s orders, maintaining certain lifestyle habits that exacerbated a condition, failing to take the prescribed medications, and so on. It is up to you and your Denver malpractice lawyer to prove that you did everything in your power to maintain optimal health, and that had it not been for the negligent medical professional, you could have done so without a problem.
How Our Denver Medical Malpractice Lawyers Can Help You
It’s always useful to have proper legal representation when filing a personal injury claim. Medical malpractice claims, however, are some of the most complicated claims in this area of law. While you can represent yourself, your chance at success will be much better with a skilled Denver medical malpractice attorney on your side.
When working with our Denver medical malpractice law firm, you can count on our team to:
- Manage all communication with the insurance company for you
- Handle all the paperwork related to your claim
- Calculate and document the full value of your claim
- Negotiate for the best settlement possible
- Zealously argue your case before a judge or jury
Not only will we handle all the technical and legal aspects of your claim, but we will also provide counsel and support throughout your entire case. You need an ally during this difficult time, and firm provides an unwavering customer experience.
Importance of Expert Witnesses in Denver Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
Due to the fact that successful medical malpractice cases often end with large rewards to the plaintiff, the courts don’t want to get backlogged with frivolous claims. As such, any medical malpractice lawsuit in Colorado requires a certificate of review. When a lawsuit names more than one defendant, a certificate of review must be included for each.
After the plaintiff files the initial complaint, they must submit the certificate of review within 60 days. The certificate must state that the plaintiff, or the plaintiff’s lawyer, has met with an expert in the same area of medicine as the defendant. The certificate must also state that the expert has reviewed the medical records and the facts of the case, and they believe that the lawsuit has merit.
In order to qualify as someone who can review the case, the expert witness must typically be a physician. They must also have in-depth knowledge of the health condition or medical procedure at issue, along with a thorough understanding of the acceptable standard of care required. Typically, an expert witness cannot testify against a healthcare professional in a different field, unless the two have similar standards of care.
Compensation in a Denver Medical Malpractice Case
When you file a medical malpractice case, you are asking the courts or the insurance company to provide you with compensatory damages. These are intended to compensate you for your losses, or make you as whole as you were before the medical malpractice incident.
In Colorado, there are two main types of compensatory damages: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are those that have an actual dollar value, meaning they are easily quantifiable. They include, but are not limited to:
- Medical expenses
- Future medical care needs
- Medication costs
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
Non-economic damages are those that don’t have a pecuniary value and, therefore, aren’t as easily measurable. These types of damages include, but are not limited to:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
Our Denver medical malpractice lawyer can help you fully quantify the value of the damages you have suffered to ensure you are demanding the true compensation you deserve.
Caps for Recovery on Medical Malpractice in Denver
The Supreme Courts in many states have ruled that placing caps, or limits, on personal injury cases is unconstitutional. Unfortunately for victims of medical malpractice, that is not the case in Colorado. In the Centennial State, medical malpractice lawsuits have a cap of $300,000 on non-economic damages and $1,000,000 in total compensation. Depending on the facts of the case, such as when the loss of future wages is significant, these recovery caps can be increased.
Statute of Limitations on Medical Malpractice Lawsuits in Denver, Colorado
A statute of limitations is the time limit a person has to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. All states have them, including Colorado, where the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the injury.
There are some exceptions to this time limit, though. For example, if a patient didn’t discover the injury for months after receiving negligent medical care, the statute would start from the date they discovered their injury, or the date they should have discovered their injury.
In addition to the statute of limitations, Colorado has what’s known as a statute of repose. Under this statute, a person must file a lawsuit for medical malpractice within three years, regardless of when the injury was discovered or should have been discovered.
While the law surrounding the statute of limitations sounds straightforward enough, it can quickly become complicated. It’s for this reason that any victim of medical malpractice should speak to a knowledgeable lawyer in Denver as soon as possible.
Talk to a Denver Medical Malpractice Attorney Today
If you’ve been a victim of negligent medical care and need the help of a medical malpractice lawyer in Denver, contact the Olson Law Firm today. We are not intimidated by healthcare professionals or their insurance companies, and we will work hard to fight for the maximum compensation you deserve.
Don’t try to take on these complex cases on your own. Contact us today and get the professional legal help you need.