As a patient, you trust medical professionals to act in your best interest and with a high standard of care, knowing that failing to do so could have serious consequences. Not all negative outcomes are the result of medical malpractice, but when they are, patients have the right to seek justice through the legal system.
Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional fails to provide a specific standard of care. To better understand what malpractice is – and whether you or a loved one have a right to legal recovery – contact an experienced Raytown medical malpractice attorney.
The team at Dempsey Kingsland & Osteen has over 100 years of combined trial experience and a successful record of obtaining maximum compensation for those injured by someone else’s negligent behavior. We are focused on helping medical malpractice victims and their families recover from the devastation of inadequate medical care.
Along with being strong advocates, we also have medical professionals on staff to assist us in making informed decisions and achieving the best possible outcomes for our clients.
Missouri Medical Malpractice Law
To have a valid medical malpractice claim, you must be able to show that your injuries resulted from the action or inaction of a medical provider. This does not necessarily have to be a physician. Medical malpractice can also be committed by a nurse, anesthesiologist, hospital or medical facility, diagnostic laboratory, radiologist, and any other medical professional tasked with providing care to you as a patient. Two basic elements must be satisfied to make a valid medical malpractice claim under Missouri law:
- The healthcare provider failed to use the degree of skill and learning ordinarily used under the same or similar circumstances by members of the same profession; and
- Such failure directly caused or contributed to the plaintiff’s injury or death.
If these elements are present, you may be eligible to file a medical malpractice claim. Your medical malpractice lawyer in Missouri can help you understand the strengths of your claim based on the facts provided.
How Do You File a Medical Malpractice Claim in Missouri?
To avoid large amounts of frivolous litigation, Missouri requires that plaintiffs submit an affidavit at the beginning of a claim to demonstrate that the case has merit. Your Raytown medical malpractice attorney must file the affidavit stating that they have obtained the written testimony of a healthcare expert stating that the defendant committed medical malpractice, resulting in harm to the plaintiff. The healthcare expert must have practiced recently and in the same or similar specialty as the defendant. They must also be properly licensed. The case will usually be dismissed if the affidavit is not filed within 90 days of initiating the lawsuit. If multiple defendants are named, there must be an affidavit for each. Within 180 days, the defendant may request a review of the affidavit. If the affidavit does not meet the statutory requirements, the court has 30 days to conduct a hearing for more information before the case can be dismissed. The affidavit is a crucial part of the malpractice suit process, so it is important to work with the best malpractice attorneys in Raytown who know the ins and outs of the process.
While civil litigation begins with filing a complaint with the court, many medical providers will try to avoid litigation through arbitration or some other form of settlement negotiation. Never accept less than what you deserve. If a fair settlement can not be reached, proceeding to trial may be the best option to seek full recovery.
What Damages Are Recoverable for a Missouri Medical Malpractice Claim?
If you were injured because of someone else’s negligent action or inaction, you should not be responsible for the physical, mental, emotional, and financial hardships you have had to endure. The amount of money owed is unique to each set of circumstances, but an injured patient is generally owed economic and noneconomic damages. In cases of extreme negligence, the patient may also be eligible to receive punitive damages. Experienced medical malpractice attorneys in Raytown can help you determine the actual value of your claim.
A court can compensate an injured patient for financial hardship with economic damages. This type of compensation can cover the cost of medical care, loss of wages, loss of earning capacity, and other expenses arising from the patient’s injury. There is no cap on economic damages for medical malpractice in Missouri.
Not all damages come with a receipt. Noneconomic damages are more subjective and cover harm such as pain and suffering, post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, and other effects on someone’s overall well-being. The amount of available non-economic damages is generally capped at $400,000, but the trial court may consider a higher amount.
When a defendant acts with extreme negligence or recklessness in treating their patient, the court can award punitive damages to punish the behavior. Under Missouri law, punitive damages cannot exceed the greater of $500,000 or five times the net amount of the judgment awarded to the plaintiff against the defendant.
Who Is Liable in a Medical Malpractice Claim?
The medical provider who failed to offer adequate care may be held individually liable, but the facility employing the provider may also share that responsibility. Hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities may be held liable for the negligent acts of their employees. Alternatively, they can also be liable for negligent hiring practices that led to an unqualified person being allowed to practice a certain type of medicine. It is important to bring your claim against the correct party or parties. A Raytown medical malpractice attorney can help.
What If a Patient Was Partially Liable?
In some cases, the medical professional may assert that a patient was partially to blame for the outcome of their health. This defense usually arises if the patient fails to follow treatment protocol such as dietary restrictions, pre-surgical instructions, wound care, or other instructions the medical provider gave them. Under Missouri law, you can still file a claim for medical malpractice even if you were partially negligent. This legal doctrine is called comparative negligence and reduces the patient’s compensation by their percentage of fault. For example, if the court finds a patient 20 percent at fault, they would only be eligible to receive 80 percent of the damages awarded.
How Long Do You Have to File a Claim?
There is a time limit on how long you have to file a claim for medical malpractice. When seriously injured, you may spend a lot of time and energy focusing on recovery, so taking action as soon as possible is important to avoid missing the window. Under Missouri law, a plaintiff must generally file a medical malpractice claim within two years. The two-year statute of limitations starts running from the date when the alleged act of neglect occurred. There may be applicable exceptions if the patient discovers the negligence at a later date. Your medical malpractice lawyer in Raytown can help you determine if any exceptions apply.
There is also an outer limit, known as the statute of repose, for malpractice claims of 10 years. This restriction protects defendants from indefinite or open-ended potential liability. Even if exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations apply, the claim will generally fall into the 10-year statute of repose. You must file a timely claim to avoid being barred from seeking legal recovery.