Everyone makes mistakes. However, when a doctor commits an error, it can mean life or death for a patient. It also can mean the difference between a speedy recovery and years of chronic pain.
We put a lot of trust in medical professionals. They have specialized training and knowledge that the average person just does not have. But if that specialized training and knowledge is not used properly the results can be devastating. Medical errors, carelessness, and inattention can lead to medical malpractice claims.
What is Medical Malpractice?
A medical malpractice claim arises when someone is harmed because a mistake or omission is made by a medical professional. These situations are far more common than you might think. In fact, in 2016, a study indicated that medical errors are now the third-leading cause of death in the United States. They fall behind only heart disease and cancer.
While you usually think of a surgery error as something that would result in legal liability, most medical malpractice claims are more straightforward. In fact, the most common medical malpractice cases include:
- Missed diagnosis or delayed diagnosis
- Medication errors
- Anesthesia errors
- Childbirth injuries
- Surgery errors are still widespread. They make up approximately one-third of all medical malpractice cases.
Proving Medical Malpractice
Generally, you must show the following to win a medical malpractice claim.
- There was a patient-provider relationship.
- The actions of the medical professional fell below the medical standard of care for that professional.
- The failure to meet the standard of care caused your injuries or damage.
Proving the first requirement is easy: if you were a patient of a medical professional, you meet this requirement. To prove the second two facts you need to have the testimony of a medical expert, a doctor practicing in the same field who will say your doctor breached the standard of care and hurt you.
Proving that your doctor did something wrong is rarely easy, however. Most doctors don’t want to testify that another doctor did something wrong. You generally will need a medical malpractice attorney who can help you prove your case.
Can I Sue?
Because of the complex nature of medical issues, it can be difficult to determine whether a medical professional made a mistake in your care. It may also take some time after the error is made for you to understand what really happened.
You must bring your medical malpractice claim within three years of the date of the injury. If there was a delay in realizing that there was an error, Wisconsin law allows the limit to be extended until one year after you realized you were harmed by a medical mistake up to a maximum of five years after the mistake.
The only way to really know whether you have a medical malpractice claim in Wisconsin is to talk to a lawyer. He or she will be able to examine the facts of your case and may even do some initial investigation. Then, the medical malpractice attorney will be able to explore your legal options with you. GCW Lawyers can do just that—contact us to set up an appointment for a case evaluation.