When you go to see a doctor, you expect to get the best care possible. However, there are instances when doctors act negligently or make errors that result in a substandard level of treatment. As a result, patients may end up dealing with devastating health conditions and are often worse off than they were when they initially sought care.
If you were a victim of medical malpractice, you deserve compensation. The team at Horton & Mendez Injury Attorneys has years of experience representing medical malpractice patients in the Wilmington, North Carolina area. As former insurance defense lawyers, we know how medical malpractice insurers operate. We know the tactics they use to strong-arm victims into settling their cases for less than they deserve. For this reason, we can help our clients get the full value of their claims and obtain a favorable result in their case.
Proving Negligence in Medical Malpractice Claims
To win a malpractice claim, you must prove that the provider offered care that did not meet the standards of care in their profession. According to North Carolina law, that means determining that the medical professional:
“Was not in accordance with the standards of practice among members of the same health care profession with similar training and experience situated in the same or similar communities under the same or similar circumstances at the time of the alleged act.”
Determining the standard of care and whether substandard care was offered is a complicated task. It typically requires calling in medical experts and assessing medical records and other pieces of evidence.
It must also be proven that:
- The health provider owed the patient a duty of care.
- That the duty of care was breached through an act of negligence
- That the lapse in care caused the patient’s injuries
- That the patient suffered actual damages which may include financial and emotional losses
What Are Some Examples of Medical Malpractice?
You can’t sue a doctor just because you are not getting the results you want from your care or if you are having trouble getting a diagnosis. Rather, you must prove that your doctor exhibited negligence that resulted in losses and damages. Examples of medical malpractice include the following:
- Birth injuries including cerebral palsy and kernicterus
- Failure to diagnose a stroke or heart attack
- Surgical and anesthesia errors
- Medication and prescription errors
- Emergency room errors
- Hospital administration errors and negligence
- Misdiagnosis in recognizing a condition a more competent doctor would have spotted
- Failure to treat
- Discharging a patient too soon
- Lack of necessary follow up care
What is the Statute of Limitations in a North Carolina Medical Malpractice Case?
Every legal claim is subject to a statute of limitations. This is the amount of time a defendant has to file to receive compensation.
When it comes to North Carolina medical malpractice, the statute of limitations is more complicated than it is in other personal injury cases. Here are some things to be aware of.
The statute of limitations on most North Carolina medical malpractice cases is three years and the clock starts ticking on the date of the injury or death.
However, the statute of limitations changes to one year after the injury is discovered if it could not have reasonably been discovered when it occurred. This type of case must be brought within four years of the commission of the procedure which resulted in malpractice.
The statute of limitations will also be one year for victims that discover an object left inside them during surgery. For medical malpractice that results in a wrongful death claim, the statute of limitations is 2 years.
Evidence Requirements for a North Carolina Medical Malpractice Clam
As stated earlier, proving that a doctor provided a substandard level of care can be complicated. The state of North Carolina has two laws that relate to the evidence required in a medical malpractice case. These are as follows:
Expert Witnesses: The law requires that at least one expert witness must be brought in to testify on the injured party’s behalf. The expert must swear under oath that they reviewed the defendant’s medical records and that a substandard level of care was provided resulting in injuries and damages.
Burden of Proof for ER Cases: Injured parties must also testify that it was “more likely than not” that a substandard of care caused their injuries. In cases of emergency room malpractice, the defendant must provide “clear and convincing” evidence that negligence was exhibited in the care they received.
What Damages Can I Receive in a Medical Malpractice Case?
Damages for medical malpractice are generally divided into two categories, economic and noneconomic.
Noneconomic damages refer to emotional and physical pain the victim may be dealing with due to their injuries reducing their quality of life. In 2011, North Carolina put a $500,000 cap on these damages. Since 2014, the amount has been adjusted each year to account for inflation.
Economic Damages: Economic damages cover things like loss of wages, loss of earning potential, and current and future medical expenses. North Carolina does not put a cap on these damages, but the state may require two separate trials to be held if damages exceed $150,000. The first trial focuses on liability while the second looks at the number of damages. Both cases are presented before the same judge and jury. They may be combined if the judge thinks this is a wise step to take.
Why Horton & Mendez Injury Attorneys Can Help With Your North Carolina Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Medical malpractice cases can get complicated. It’s essential to have an experienced lawyer on your side.
Horton & Mendez Injury Attorneys have years of experience representing medical malpractice clients in Wilmington, North Carolina, and surrounding areas. We will work with medical experts to ensure you have a strong case. We also know how medical malpractice insurers try and settle cases for less, and we will stop at nothing to see to it that justice is served.
Going up against a doctor’s law team can be intimidating. Don’t go it alone. Call Horton & Mendez Injury Attorneys to schedule a free consultation. We will provide you with the guidance and support you need every step of the way.