North Carolina Medical Malpractice Lawyer

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Healthcare professionals, and especially doctors, are among the most trusted individuals. We only have one body, and we put our confidence in our healthcare providers to ensure we stay healthy.

They are who we go to for help when we are sick or injured. Of course, this means there is a deep sense of betrayal when people in this specialized field neglect to treat us with the standard of care that everyone rightfully expects.

A selective focus shot of a Lady Justice desk statue with a working medical malpractice lawyer in the background.

What Evidence Does a North Carolina Medical Malpractice Attorney Need?

When the standard of care has not been met and the patient is harmed as a result, this is called medical malpractice. The evidence you need to prove medical malpractice will include:

  • Medical bills will prove the expenses you have incurred because of the injuries you have suffered as a result of the medical malpractice.
  • Pay stubs to show any lost wages. This will include any reduction of earning potential.
  • Statements or testimony from medical professionals to explain the severity of your injuries and how the actions of the healthcare worker were negligent.
  • Testimonies from you, your family, friends, and colleagues describing how your injuries have impacted your life.

Elements of Medical Negligence

You have the burden of proof to establish negligence in a medical malpractice case. In order to prove that malpractice has occurred, you need clear and convincing evidence that the defendant is more conceivably guilty of causing your injuries than they are innocent.

This evidence needs to show four elements:

  • Duty – You had a doctor-patient relationship
  • Breach – The doctor provided substandard care
  • Causation – The substandard care caused your injury
  • Damages – The injury caused you significant harm

Proving the four elements of medical negligence is a difficult process.

Medical malpractice lawsuits are complex and intimidating. An experienced medical malpractice attorney also called a personal injury lawyer, will help you build a strong case to establish negligence and get you the compensation you deserve.

Relationship

You and your doctor had to have had a relationship in which you were the patient, and the doctor was responsible for providing medical care. For example, if a doctor is grocery shopping and does not treat someone who slipped and fell on the floor, there is no medical malpractice because the person who fell was not a patient of that doctor at that time.

Negligence

The doctor had to have provided substandard care. Negligence must be proven in every claim for compensation for a personal injury.

The doctor had to owe the patient a standard of care and that care had to have been breached.

Causation

The doctor’s negligence or substandard care had to have caused your injury or harm. There are times when a doctor has been negligent, but no harm comes to the patient.

In these cases, negligence alone is not enough to file a medical malpractice claim.

Losses

You must have proof that you have suffered an injury or other harm, such as illness or medical expenses, in order to seek compensation. These losses are your damages.

Your claim for damages is for compensation for what you have lost as a result of medical malpractice. There is no case without a loss.

How Can I Prove That Medical Malpractice Has Occurred?

Many medical malpractice lawsuits are difficult to prove, and they can become quite complex. Other cases have very obvious implications of negligence and are simple from the start until they are resolved.

Your attorney will thoroughly investigate your situation for signs of malpractice, such as the following:

  • Unsanitary Conditions On the Premises
  • Patient Neglect
  • Lack of Communication
  • Violation of Federal Laws

An investigation to find evidence of negligence in the healthcare industry will often involve:

  • Visiting the healthcare facility for a thorough inspection
  • Consulting other medical professionals about applicable standards of care
  • Researching the responsible doctor or nurse’s background
  • Carefully review your medical records

Your medical malpractice attorney will collect and organize any evidence that will help establish negligence in your claim. The types of evidence may include

  • Your Medical Records
  • Expert Testimony,
  • Witness Statements
  • Surveillance Footage,
  • Photographs

What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Medical Malpractice Case in North Carolina?

The statute of limitations for a medical malpractice claim in North Carolina is three years from the date of the negligent act or injury. There are some cases where the statute of limitations will begin when the negligence is discovered.

This statute is meant to protect the defendant from being perpetually held responsible for their actions.

How Do I Sue a Hospital for Medical Negligence?

Hospitals and other healthcare facilities are held to a standard of care in order to stay operational. An accrediting agency, such as the Joint Commission, must routinely inspect the hospitals and their employees for compliance.

When a hospital is negligent and fails to meet the expected duty of care that is owed to each and every patient, this is called hospital negligence. If you wish to sue a hospital for medical negligence, be prepared for a complicated journey.

You will need an experienced malpractice attorney to guide you through the complexities of your case.

When to Get a Hospital Malpractice Lawyer?

Suing a hospital for medical negligence is a time-sensitive issue. Contacting a hospital malpractice lawyer as soon as possible is imperative.

Tatum & Atkinson work tirelessly to ensure the best possible outcome for you. Call (800) LAW-0804 immediately for a free consultation and to begin the long process of suing the hospital.

Is the Hospital Responsible for the Actions of its Employees?

There are times when hospitals fail to provide the basic level of care that patients depend on receiving while seeking medical attention. When patients get hurt, develop illness, or suffer a loss, the hospital may be held accountable for compensating the victims for damages they have suffered.

A medical negligence case will only take place when a doctor or hospital fails to act with reasonable care. The hospital may be held liable for injuries to a patient in a medical malpractice case, and it can also be held liable for the negligence of its employees.

Respondeat Superior

Respondeat superior is a legal doctrine that holds an employer legally responsible for the wrongful acts of an employee if such acts occur within the scope of their employment. So, hospitals are responsible for damages caused by the negligence of their employees as long as the negligence occurred within the scope of their employment.

Hospital staff primarily includes:

  • Physicians (Doctors, surgeons, hospitalists)
  • Nurses (CRNA, RN, LPN/LVN, CNS)
  • Technologists (Radiology Tech, Ultrasound Tech, Surgical Tech, Lab Tech)
  • Therapists (Physical Therapist, Respiratory Therapist, Radiation Therapist)
  • Medical Assistants
  • Support Staff

Are All Medical Providers Working In a Hospital Employees of that Facility?

No, not everyone working in a hospital is employed by that facility.

It is a common practice for the doctors within a hospital to be independent contractors and have admitting privileges in that facility. These doctors are not employees, and the hospital may not be held responsible for their actions because the working relationship between the hospital and independent contractors is not as controlled as that of an employee.

For a medical professional to be considered an employee of a hospital, multiple criteria must be met. The gist of these criteria, however, is that the hospital must be in control of the medical standards, services offered, and prices quoted by the person.

The hospital, in this case, has an exclusive contract with the physician, which may be terminated according to their terms. The hospital must directly pay the physician and bill patients for any services rendered.

On the other hand, independent contractors merely provide services to a hospital but do not necessarily work for them. Relevant to patients seeking compensation for medical malpractice, this scenario means there are two legal entities to identify: the hospital and the physician group that employs the liable physician.

Knowing whether a doctor is an employee or an independent contractor is often difficult, but an experienced lawyer will help you. If you were led to believe that the doctor was an employee of the hospital, it may be possible to still sue the hospital.

When Is the Hospital Considered Negligent?

When a hospital or health care facility fails to provide the standard duty of care that all patients deserve, they are guilty of hospital negligence.

This negligence comes in different forms. Some examples of hospital negligence include the following:

  • Misdiagnosis
  • Failure to Treat
  • Failure or Long-Term Delay in Diagnosis
  • Improper Handling of Lab Work or Results
  • Misreading or Disregarding Lab Results
  • Medication Error
  • Dosage or Administration Site Error
  • Birth Injury
  • Surgical Error
  • Unnecessary Surgery
  • Anesthesia Error
  • Surgery On the Wrong Side
  • Infection or Bedsore
  • Failure to Obtain Informed Consent Before a Procedure
  • Insufficient Follow-Up Care
  • Premature Discharge From a Healthcare Facility

The most common types of medical malpractice that occur in a hospital and lead to malpractice claims are misdiagnosis, surgical errors, failure to treat, birth injuries, and prescription medication errors.

Misdiagnosis

A common medical mistake is diagnosing an illness or disorder incorrectly or failing to diagnose the problem at all. A misdiagnosis is what happens when a medical provider comes to an incorrect conclusion about the cause of the patient’s symptoms.

Many medical malpractice claims are made because of misdiagnosis because it is usually related to a serious condition, such as cancer or heart disease. For example, a patient complaining of chest pain is told that he has indigestion and is sent home.

In reality, he was suffering from a heart attack symptom, and it became more serious because he did not receive the correct treatment.

Surgical Errors

Everyone makes mistakes. Nobody wants to make a mistake during surgery, and that is why there are so many safety standards in place to prevent them. Unfortunately, surgical errors are a common type of medical malpractice.

Common surgical mistakes include:

  • Leaving objects such as instruments, sponges, or debris inside the patient.
  • Operating on the wrong body part. This error is typically caused by confusion over the left versus the right side.
  • Improper settings on machinery
  • Not having the correct equipment or implants ready prior to anesthesia being administered.
  • Infection

Failure to Treat

There are times when a doctor or other medical professional fails to follow the standard procedures for your symptoms, which leads to a failure to diagnose or treat your condition. You have a medical malpractice claim in this case if the failure to take the proper steps was caused by negligence or a medical error.

For example, a standard procedure for a patient complaining of a cough is to order a chest X-ray. If the provider failed to order this diagnostic procedure because they believed the patient’s cough was too minor, they may have missed the patient’s pneumonia.

Birth Injuries

Mistakes during childbirth are often caused by rushing in an emergency or by complacency and overconfidence. These injuries are suffered by either the mother, the baby, or both.

A neonatal birth trauma, or birth injury to the newborn baby, can range from bruising or a broken bone, such as a clavicle, to nerve damage, brain injury, or death. For example, if a doctor uses too much force while manipulating the baby’s head using forceps, that baby may suffer irreparable brain damage and require special needs for a lifetime.

Prescription Medication Errors

Miscalculating the dosage, administering the incorrect drug, prescribing the incorrect medication for the patient’s condition, failing to ensure the safety of a drug against the patient’s allergies, or failing to administer the prescribed medication are all examples of mistakes made involving prescription medication.

Filing a Claim Is Important for More Than Compensation

Whatever type of medical malpractice has occurred and caused you or your loved one harm, contact Tatum & Atkinson for a free consultation today. Malpractice is a serious wrongdoing that should never happen in the medical field.

When you file your claim for malpractice, you are doing more than seeking justice and financial compensation, you are making a serious error known. Your case could be the reason a hospital implements changes for a higher level of patient care and safety.

This higher level of care could save many lives, and it all starts with you recognizing that you were not treated appropriately and choosing to do something about it.

Call Tatum & Atkinson, Your North Carolina Medical Malpractice Law Firm

If you or someone you love has been harmed by hospital negligence, contact the experienced malpractice attorneys at Tatum & Atkinson: The Heavy Hitters to ensure that you have their skill and dedication backing you up and building your case. Call (800) LAW-0804 right away for a free consultation to discuss your case and explore your options.

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