A mistake made by a medical professional can have severe consequences for a patient and may worsen his or her current condition or create new injuries.
In some cases, a physician’s negligence may meet the requirements for a medical negligence claim, which requires the experience of an accomplished medical malpractice lawyer to help establish liability.
Elements of a Malpractice Claim
Medical malpractice cases are not easy to prove. There must be specific elements present in order to establish the practitioner’s negligence, such as:
The first step to proving a medical malpractice claim is showing a relationship existed between the treating practitioner and the patient.
The doctor-patient relationship must be a mutual agreement that clearly shows the practitioner’s intended purpose and the patient’s expectations. This can be as simple as visiting the doctor for an appointment.
Forming a doctor-patient relationship establishes a legal duty of care the practitioner must follow until the patient dismisses his or her service.
Care Below the Accepted Medical Standard
Medical practitioners are expected to treat patients with a quality of care that reflects the standards of the medical community.
Negligence occurs when a doctor provides substandard care to a patient. This means he or she failed to treat a patient as a practitioner with similar training and knowledge would under the same circumstances.
If the practitioner’s actions or inactions resulted in harming a patient by failing to uphold the standards of the medical community, he or she can be held liable for medical malpractice.
Negligence Connected to Harm
Medical malpractice claims require proof that the patient’s worsened condition was directly caused by the practitioner’s negligence.
This means that if the practitioner had performed a different treatment or had not committed an error, the patient’s condition would not have worsened.
The final element in a medical malpractice claim is to show the patient has suffered quantifiable damages because of the practitioner’s negligence.
Quantifiable damages in Oklahoma include any damages measurable by a court, such as medical expenses for additional treatment.
The damages must have been caused by the practitioner’s negligence and financially quantify the suffering you have experienced.
Oklahoma places a $350,000 cap on non-economic damages, excluding cases involving wrongful death or gross negligence. Non-economic damages include compensation for injuries you have suffered that do not have a clear monetary value, such as pain and suffering.
However, there is no limit to the amount of economic damages, or financial suffering, you have incurred because of the practitioner’s malpractice. This can include any related medical expenses, lost wages or other forms of measurable harm you experienced.
What is Not Medical Malpractice?
Not every mistake made by a medical practitioner can be considered malpractice. It must fall below the standards of the medical community for it to be considered negligence.
There are certain instances in which a medical practitioner is not liable for malpractice.
A patient’s worsened condition over the course of treatment is not enough to prove his or her practitioner is liable for medical negligence.
It is not guaranteed that every patient will be receptive to treatment for a curable illness or condition.
If the medical practitioner provided the patient with reasonable and prudent care, it is unlikely that he or she can be held liable for malpractice.
A medical practitioner cannot be held liable for an untreatable condition. The practitioner’s duty to the patient extends to making a correct diagnosis and applying a treatment that reflects sound judgement and care.
If a patient fails to recover because the condition is untreatable, his or her treating practitioner is likely not liable for medical negligence.
Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations
There is a two-year statute of limitations in Oklahoma to file a medical malpractice claim. The deadline usually begins on the date in which the malpractice occurred, however, there are some exceptions.
If the injury cannot be detected on the date in which it was first inflicted, you may be able to file your claim on the date in which you first discovered it or should have known about it.
Minor children under the age of 12 have seven years to file a malpractice claim from the date in which they suffered the injury. If a minor is over the age of 12, a medical malpractice claim must be filed on his or her behalf before he or she turns 19-years-old.
Contact our Medical Malpractice Attorneys
If you believe you or your loved one suffered a worsened condition as the result of a medical practitioner’s negligence, you may be able to file a claim for compensation.
The Tulsa medical malpractice attorneys at Edwards Law Firm will work with you to support your claim and attempt to maximize the damages you deserve. Do not hesitate to contact us for a free, no obligation consultation to determine if your condition entitles you to legal action.
We never charge our clients upfront fees for our firm’s services. The only time we require payment is if we recover damages on your behalf.