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Medical Malpractice Lawyer

People in Hartford County trust physicians and trained medical professionals with their health and well-being, but mistakes are sometimes made. If a medical error occurs in Connecticut and it causes a serious injury to a patient, it could constitute medical malpractice. In cases like this one should seriously consider partnering with a local Hartford County medical malpractice lawyer.

medical malpractice lawyer

Topics
Medical Malpractice Definition
How Often Does Medical Malpractice Occur?
Types of Medical Malpractice Cases
How Can a Connecticut Malpractice Attorney Help Me?
What Type of Compensation Can I Expect From My Malpractice Settlement?
How Long Does It Typically Take to Settle Medical Malpractice Cases?

What Is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional or organization — like a doctor, nurse, surgeon, or even people in charge of operations at a hospital, for instance — causes a patient to suffer a serious injury or illness due to negligence. Negligence means that someone with a duty of care to another person did not meet the proper standard, and as a result, causes injury to that person.

In a medical malpractice action, the main issues are:

  • Did the defendant have a duty of care? In most cases, this will be a “yes,” because the public relies upon specially trained individuals to look after health-related issues.
  • Did the defendant fail to meet the standard of care? The standard of care is used to judge whether the professional’s action or inaction was reasonable under the circumstances. The public is entitled to assume that their healthcare practitioner will follow proper medical standards when it comes to diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. If they do not meet this standard, they may have been negligent.
  • Did this negligent medical error cause the patient a serious injury or illness? The plaintiff must show that they suffered a negative consequence as a result of the professional’s failure to meet the proper standard of care. If there was no injury, or the injury was actually not caused by the medical error in question, it is not seen as medical malpractice.
  • Can the patient show that if the error had not occurred, they would not have been injured? The fact that there was a negligent act or omission is not enough to establish medical malpractice. The plaintiff patient must show that, but for the negligence, they would not have sustained the injury or injuries at the heart of the lawsuit. If the negligence did not cause the injury complained of or there was no injury sustained, there is no medical malpractice case.
  • What legal damages arose from the medical error? Litigating medical malpractice takes lots of resources — financial (legal expenses, filing and other court fees, retaining medical malpractice lawyers), administrative (court procedures and staff), and emotional. For the lawsuit to be worth pursuing, the plaintiff and/or their Hartford County personal injury lawyers should show they have suffered unusual pain, disability, significant income loss, hardship and suffering, and/or have had to pay for medical expenses.

How Often Does Medical Malpractice Occur?

Medical negligence ranks third in terms of the most common cause of U.S. deaths, behind cancer and cardiovascular disease. It is estimated that 250,000 or so in the U.S. die due to medical negligence every year. In 2020, there were over 220,000 medical negligence cases, just over 2,700 of which were in Connecticut. In the context of all personal injury claims, medical negligence-related actions only comprise about 15% of them. Almost 50% of the medical malpractice complaints relate to errors in the diagnosis of medical conditions. Surgical mistakes and errors in treatment are the next most frequent complaints.

Medical Malpractice Claims

Generally:

  • Only about 2%-10% of patients injured due to medical negligence actually make compensation claims. Over 90% of these cases will settle. Many others will be dismissed or withdrawn.
  • Only about 7% of these cases end up going to trial. In roughly 80% of malpractice suits that go to trial, the defendants or healthcare providers win, and there is no settlement or payout to the plaintiff.
  • While the number of medical malpractice claims that are paid out has gone down, the mean damages awarded has gone up. The further the case has gone in the legal complaint process, the higher the settlement amount tends to be.

In Connecticut specifically, in 2020:

  • There were 100 medical malpractice settlements or payments.
  • The majority of these cases revolved around errors by medical doctors and dentists.
  • The average medical malpractice settlement or payout was $539,604.
  • The most frequent allegations were “failure to diagnose” and “improper performance.”

What Are Some Types of Malpractice Cases?

Some medical errors that have occurred in Connecticut include:

Fallopian tube surgery

A 28-year-old plaintiff in Hartford County sought treatment for pelvic discomfort and, ultimately, needed surgery. One of her fallopian tubes contained pus from an infection. The assigned surgeon was 18 months out of their residency and cut the wrong fallopian tube. This resulted in the plaintiff being unable to have children. The plaintiff was awarded $1.8 million at trial.

Premature Type 2 diabetes diagnosis

A 10-year-old girl in Connecticut got several tests done at a hospital when she was admitted for seizure-like symptoms. Not all tests ordered by the doctor had returned before she was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, and treated accordingly. She had to go to the ER several times, and her blood glucose levels would not stabilize. She was diagnosed with Type 1 (juvenile onset) diabetes.

Because of the length of her hospital stay and health, she missed more than a month of school, needed 6 months of recovery time, and would not be able to make up the work, so she was held back a grade. She was awarded $750,000.

No nurse coverage in hospital ward

A newborn had undergone a difficult birth and was placed in the nursery of the hospital. The nurse who was in charge took their dinner break, but there was no replacement. For a short period of time, there was no nurse coverage, and the baby had breathing problems, ultimately suffering permanent, irreversible injuries. Parties arrived at a settlement in the amount of $2,000,000.

Misdiagnosis of cause of headaches and blurred vision

A 38-year-old Connecticut plaintiff started suffering from blurred vision and persistent headaches. She saw an optometrist and ophthalmologist several times and was told she just needed new glasses. A third doctor referred her to a neurologist, who discovered the plaintiff’s problems were caused by a brain tumor that compressed the nerve to one of her eyes. She should have been referred much earlier. She was paid $275,000 after mediation.

Other examples of medical errors that have occurred in the U.S. and have constituted medical negligence include:

  • prematurely discharging a patient when the patient should have received further treatment at the hospital;
  • not ordering the appropriate medical tests;
  • not recognizing symptoms of a particular medical condition;
  • disregarding a patient’s medical history;
  • not properly reading lab results;
  • medication error — the type prescribed or the dosage;
  • not providing sufficient aftercare; and
  • mistake with anesthetics.

How Can a Connecticut Malpractice Attorney Help Me?

Medical malpractice lawsuits can be incredibly complex. If you are in Glastonbury, Simsbury, and Hartford, CT and have suffered a serious injury due to a medical error, there are many ways a medical malpractice lawyer or catastrophic injury lawyer can help you.

When you have just suffered injury from a medical error

If you see a medical negligence attorney early on, they can guide you as to the next steps, such as documenting your injuries and getting medical tests and opinions — even second or third opinions. In many cases, not all injuries develop right away.

The medical attorney will be developing your case so that you are better armed against the insurance companies, defendants, and any other interested parties. This may involve investigation and information gathering.

When you are dealing with the insurance company or companies

As much as we would like to think that insurance exists to protect us, it is still a business. Insurance companies will try to pay as little as possible, so they may challenge the extent of your injuries. Some of them will use sneaky tactics when communicating with you, to use your answers to limit their liability.

A medical negligence lawyer can negotiate on your behalf, providing needed evidence to support your injuries and protecting your rights and entitlements.

When you are negotiating settlement

The insurance companies and other defendants will be finding ways to limit your claim and their liability for your injuries. A medical malpractice lawyer can represent you during any mediation, arbitration, or any negotiation discussions, trying to help all the parties reach a consensus or agreement and making sure you don’t settle for less than what your claim is worth.

When you are preparing for litigation

There is a lot of strategy, case law, and evidence required for a strong case in court. A medical lawyer will know what kind of experts and other witnesses to line up, what medical reports you need to prove your case, and what legal precedents support your legal action.

Medical malpractice cases can be incredibly complex, with evidence across numerous scientific and academic disciplines.

During the actual litigation

The court has many rules and procedures with respect to documentary evidence, witness and expert testimony, and other esoteric legal issues laypeople likely will not recognize. It is always recommended to have legal representation in court — especially in cases that are as complicated and have high stakes, like medical malpractice claims.

Medical malpractice attorneys specialize in medical negligence cases.

What Type of Compensation Can I Expect From My Malpractice Settlement?

While malpractice cases that have already been decided by courts may provide excellent guidance to estimate what certain injuries are worth, each claim must be assessed individually. Patients, healthcare organizations, medical conditions, required medications, medical expenses, the impact of the injuries on the patient, and other circumstances differ.

Here are some current estimates for medical negligence based on the severity of the injury:

  • Allergic reactions that get resolved, misplaced shots or IVs, and other minor cases may see damage rewards up to $10,000.
  • Missed or erroneous diagnoses, minor surgical mistakes, and other medical errors resulting in short-term disabilities may see damage rewards between $10,000 and $30,000.
  • Injuries that require minor surgery or physical rehab, and other serious injuries may see damage awards between $30,000 and $100,000.
  • Miscarriages, amputations, chronic pain, and other extensive injuries may see damage awards between $100,000 and $500,000.
  • Permanent disabilities, wrongful deaths, and other examples of severe malpractice may see damage awards in excess of $1,000,000. The medical practitioner is also very likely to lose their license to practice medicine.

There is no specific formula, but you will often have economic damages — quantifiable expenses, impact on earning capacity and income opportunities — and non-economic damages for more subjective impacts, such as pain and suffering.

In cases where the medical professional’s error was so heinous that the courts want to send a message to the medical profession, punitive damages may be awarded. This last type of damages is meant to deter future similar conduct.

Your medical negligence lawyer will be better able to give you ballpark figures.

How Long Does It Typically Take to Settle Medical Malpractice Cases?

Medical negligence claims can take 2-3 years to settle or otherwise resolve. If settlement negotiations fail and your matter goes to trial, that could be an additional 1-2 years. Some extraordinary cases with damages over $2 million can take up to 15 years to resolve.

Every step in a medical malpractice action, as follows, takes time:

  • Assessment of injuries, including present and potential future developments
  • Finding and gathering documentation about your medical issues, including the state of your health prior to the medical error
  • Negotiations with other parties in the lawsuit, including insurance companies
  • Finding and preparing experts and other potential witnesses
  • Civil litigation procedures, such as disclosure, discovery, and pre-trial motions
  • Investigation of the action/inaction and circumstances of the medical error
  • Creation of legal arguments, direct and cross-examinations, and thorough legal research

In many medical negligence claims, the situation can change several times. There can be delays, prolonged negotiations and back-and-forth between the parties, discovery of new medical information, and more. Even if you and your medical malpractice attorney are pretty sure you will settle, you still may have to go through with the motions of going to trial so that you are in the most advantageous position.

Best Local Hartford County Malpractice Law Firm

If a medical error in Glastonbury, Simsbury, and Hartford, CT has caused an injury to you, Hassett & George, P.C. Is happy to speak to you about your case. Contact us today and set up a consultation.

Some of the locations in and around Hartford County our Connecticut Malpractice lawyers serve include: Hartford, Simsbury, Glastonbury, New Britain, Bridgeport, Waterbury, Danbury, Norwalk, Manchester, Windsor, Farmington, Windsor Locks, Wethersfield, Rocky Hill, Avon, Bloomfield, Bristol, Enfield, Newington, South Windsor, Southington, Plainville and more.

For more information about retaining one of our attorneys, or to schedule a free consultation, please reach out to us today at 860-791-4274.