Hospital Negligence Lawyer in Washington, DC
People rely on their healthcare providers for care. The nurse or doctor usually has their patient’s best interests at heart. However, mistakes happen every day, and sometimes those mistakes can be life-changing. If negligence occurred at a hospital in Washington DC and you or a family member suffered illness or injury, we may be able to help you. Our hospital negligence lawyers aim to help those who have suffered from a hospital’s carelessness.
Have you suffered from hospital negligence? Learn how Regan Zambri Long can help you today.
What Constitutes Hospital Negligence in Washington D.C.?
Medical malpractice occurs when a hospital makes a mistake due to negligence. Healthcare providers have a duty of care to their patients, and failure to meet the standard of care can lead to the patient suffering from an injury.
Hospital negligence occurs more frequently than it should. Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. Misdiagnosis is the most common form of malpractice, making up 33% of cases. Every year, victims suffer millions of dollars in economic losses. All states and the District of Columbia have medical malpractice laws to protect the rights of patients who place their trust in hospitals and other facilities.
If the hospital keeps providing staff privileges to an incompetent doctor, the facility may be held responsible for the doctor’s negligent actions. Patients may have a case if the hospital knew or should have known a doctor became unsuitable or dangerous for the job.
Examples of Hospital Negligence in Washington D.C.
One example of hospital negligence is administering the incorrect dosage of anesthesia before a surgery. The wrong amount could lead to liver damage in the patient. In many cases, proving negligence can be tricky since there are plenty of gray areas. An experienced hospital negligence lawyer will distinguish between a true accident and a preventable error.
Other anesthesia mistakes include delaying the administration to patients or providing too little, causing the patient to suffer. The failure to provide proper preoperative instructions or monitor vital signs during surgery may count as hospital negligence.
Childbirth tends to be a difficult time for everyone involved. Sometimes, the hospital can make a mistake, leading to an injury. For instance, an umbilical cord prolapse can occur. The issue can be life-threatening to the child unless the doctor performs a C-section.
Negligence happens if the doctor fails to realize what has happened and delays the procedure. Delaying a C-section may result in the baby suffering from brain damage. The patient can argue the healthcare professional failed to provide adequate care.
The mother might also suffer from childbirth injuries due to medical malpractice. Sometimes, the patient has high blood pressure before delivery. High blood pressure is a sign of preeclampsia, which can lead to seizures during childbirth. If a hospital employee fails to note the issue, they can be liable for any injuries from the seizure.
Another example of hospital negligence is a surgical error. Errors may happen due to several reasons, such as an improper work process or incompetence. Even poor communication can lead to the surgeon making a mistake.
If a patient suffers an injured nerve from surgery or receives an incision in the wrong location, they can have a malpractice case. Another instance of surgical error is the surgeon leaving a piece of equipment in the patient. In some cases, the doctor will operate on the wrong body part or even the incorrect person.
Often, victims can easily establish how the treatment led to substandard care. Various types of errors can occur, so you should consult a lawyer if you believe you suffered an injury from one.
Lab Result Errors
Malpractice often happens from an incorrect diagnosis. One of the causes of misdiagnosis is the failure to provide the correct test results. Patients need to know the state of their condition in a timely manner. Whether it is from errors in recording or reading the results, mistakes can lead to dire consequences.
You might not get any treatment when you need one, or you could get the wrong kind. The healthcare provider may provide the incorrect diagnosis or medication. The real issue may get ignored or made worse as a result of the lab test error. Patients who suffer damages could be entitled to compensation.
The Statute of Limitations in Washington D.C.
If you believe you are a victim of hospital negligence, you can begin the process of establishing a claim. However, you will only have a limited time to do so. Every state and the District of Columbia has its own rules regarding the statute of limitations for medical malpractice.
In most places, a person has two or three years after the date of the injury. In Washington D.C., the standard deadline is three years after the incident. Once the deadline has passed, you will no longer be able to file a lawsuit.
The statute of limitations does have a couple of exceptions. Known as the discovery rule, the timer does not start if the patient could not have reasonably known about the medical malpractice. The three-year deadline begins once the person knows they were injured and has some evidence of wrongdoing by the hospital.
If the victim was a minor, they have until they turn 21 to file a lawsuit. Other exceptions are if the healthcare provider intentionally hid the malpractice or left the District of Columbia after the incident.
Proving Negligence With a Washington D.C. Hospital Negligence Lawyer
When you file a lawsuit for hospital negligence, you will need to fulfill specific requirements to prove malpractice occurred. Also known as the four elements of healthcare negligence, you must show:
- A doctor-patient relationship existed. The first step is to prove a professional relationship existed between a patient and a medical provider. The person hired the doctor, who agreed to get paid. Therefore, the healthcare professional had a duty of care.
- The staff member was negligent. The hospital needed to have been negligent when it came to your diagnosis or treatment. The prover’s care has to be reasonably skillful and careful to avoid liability. To show malpractice, another competent medical expert would not have done similar actions under the same circumstances. Therefore, the patient possibly would not have experienced injuries.
- The negligence directly caused the injury. Many patients were already sick or hurt before going to the hospital for treatment. You must show how your new injuries are a result of the staff member’s actions instead of a pre-existing condition.
- The injury led to damages. An injury from a hospital’s failure to meet the standard care needs to cause physical or mental harm. A patient can sue for financial damages as well. Monetary losses like lost wages are easy to calculate.
Medical records are the best evidence, so you should obtain copies as soon as possible.
How Long Does a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Take in D.C.?
Lawsuits do not have a limited amount of time to finish, so the timeline can vary from case to case. A claim goes through different stages, so you might find yourself waiting months to over a year. The complexity of the case can contribute to the duration as well.
Consulting a Lawyer
The first step of a medical malpractice lawsuit is to speak with an attorney. They will talk with the patient about the diagnosis or treatment leading up to the alleged hospital negligence. Then, the lawyer will collect records related to the case. Any condition or care in the person’s medical history could impact the case. The attorney may request a report of those as well.
This stage can take months to complete. The lawyer will go over everything to determine if the client has a valid case.
Hiring a Medical Expert
The lawyer often searches for a medical expert witness to show negligence. The expert typically works in the same field as the defendant. The qualified professional needs to review all of the patient’s relevant medical records.
This step usually occurs before a lawsuit gets filed. The expert may provide a statement on how the accused hospital staff member failed their duty of care.
Notify the Defendant
In several states, the plaintiff’s lawyer needs to submit either the Offer of Proof or the Certificate of Merit. In Washington D.C., the law does not have such a requirement. Instead, the plaintiff has to notify the defendant 90 days before filing a lawsuit.
The District of Columbia requires both parties to attend non-binding mediation early on before the discovery.
Filing the Lawsuit
Some medical malpractice cases do settle before a lawyer files a lawsuit. More often than not, the other party’s insurance company does not negotiate compensation until after you establish one. An attorney produces a document called the Complaint to start the lawsuit.
The case goes through a couple of pre-trial procedures before the trial takes place. In general, it can take over a year to three years for the claim to go to the courtroom.
Once litigation starts, both parties will go through the discovery phase. During this step, they will investigate one another’s claims and defenses. The attorneys may request documents and send interrogatories to each other.
Depositions often occur during the discovery. In a deposition, lawyers ask questions to the plaintiff, defendant, and any witnesses. The process may last over a year, depending on the court’s deadlines. One side might not be happy with the other’s responses, and the attorney may file a motion for further responses to a judge. The action can happen multiple times.
The negotiation occurs toward the end of the lawsuit process. The attorneys start talking about a possible settlement. They may do so by themselves or in front of a mediator with the clients.
Most of the time, medical negligence cases settle before going to trial. The patient will most likely receive a favorable outcome and get reimbursement quicker.
If neither party can come to an agreement, then the case moves to trial. As a result, the length of the timeline extends further. Trials can get rescheduled multiple times due to the court’s schedule and other possible delays.
Most people prefer to settle beforehand since trials may make it harder for the patient to win. Around 21% of plaintiffs reach a successful verdict. One of the challenges of winning a trial is convincing the jury of the hospital’s wrongdoing.
Why You Need a Washington D.C. Hospital Negligence Lawyer
A case of hospital negligence can be a lengthy and complex process. A medical malpractice lawyer can help you through each step of the way. They are aware of a client’s need to recover from their injuries and make the process less stressful.
An attorney can provide insight on how much you possibly can recover for damages. Since most cases end in a settlement, they can negotiate for the best outcome for their client. A medical malpractice lawyer also has enough experience to answer some of the questions you may have.
Even if you are unsure about whether you suffered from hospital negligence, you should consult a lawyer. You might be surprised at the fact that you could have a valid case. You should speak with your local attorney to see what compensation you might be entitled to receive.
How Our Hospital Negligence Attorneys at Regan Zambri Long Can Help
If you live in the Washington D.C. area, consider seeking the help of Regan Zambri Long PLLC. Our team works to find justice for those who suffered harm from hospital negligence. We passionately stay by their side as we maximize the value of their case.
Our medical malpractice lawyers have helped plenty of clients obtain large settlements. Each outcome may be different, but you can rest knowing we have your back. If you would like to learn more, contact us for a confidential case review today.