Understand Your Rights After a Poor Medical Outcome

Navigating the aftermath of a poor medical outcome due to medical malpractice can be overwhelming, but it's essential to understand your rights and the necessary steps to seek justice.  Enlisting the assistance of a medical malpractice attorney is vital for guiding you through this challenging process. 

The skilled Kansas City medical malpractice attorneys at Peterson & Associates, P.C. are here to help. We can explain your legal rights and help you take the necessary steps to receive compensation for your medical malpractice injury.

What is Medical Malpractice? 

Medical malpractice refers to negligent acts or misconduct by health care professionals that result in a poor medical outcome, such as injury, harm, or death to a patient. It can occur in various health care settings, including hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and private practices.

Various parties could be liable for medical malpractice, depending on the circumstances of the case. Some common entities that might be held accountable for medical malpractice include:

  • Medical professionals. This includes doctors, surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, and any other health care professionals directly involved in patient care.
  • Hospitals and health care facilities. Hospitals and clinics can be responsible for the actions of their employees, as well as for issues related to inadequate staffing, faulty equipment, or improper protocols.
  • Pharmaceutical companies. If a medication or medical device is found to be defective or to have caused harm due to inadequate warnings or testing, the pharmaceutical company could be held liable.

Common examples of medical malpractice include:

Regardless of the type of medical malpractice, the consequences for patients and their families can be profound and long-lasting. 

Essential Steps to Take After a Poor Medical Outcome

Experiencing a poor medical outcome can have profound consequences for your health, well-being, and quality of life. By following the steps below and seeking appropriate legal guidance, you can take proactive measures to protect your rights and pursue justice for the injuries you suffered due to medical malpractice.

Collect and Preserve Relevant Evidence

Collecting evidence is the foundation of any potential medical malpractice case. Begin by gathering all relevant medical records, including test results, treatment plans, and prescriptions. Document any conversations or correspondence with health care providers regarding the incident. Additionally, consider documenting any visible injuries or damages through photographs or videos. Detailed records will provide crucial insights into the events leading up to the poor medical outcome and will serve as essential evidence in any legal proceedings.

Preserving this evidence is crucial for substantiating your claims and supporting your case. Organize all relevant documents carefully to facilitate easy access and reference for the duration of your case. Preserving evidence helps establish a clear timeline of events and strengthens your case against any potential challenges or disputes.

Seek a Second Opinion

Obtain an independent medical evaluation from another health care professional to assess the quality of care provided and the extent of any injuries. A second opinion can provide clarity and validation regarding the medical treatment received and help determine if medical malpractice may have occurred. It's essential to choose a health care provider who is impartial and has expertise relevant to your specific situation.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney 

Consulting with a seasoned medical malpractice attorney is one of the most critical steps you can take after experiencing a poor medical outcome. Medical malpractice cases can be challenging and require specialized legal knowledge and expertise. A skilled attorney with experience handling medical malpractice cases can assess the merits of your case, navigate the legal process on your behalf, and advocate for your rights and interests. 

Do Not Contact Your Doctor or Hospital

It is crucial to refrain from communicating with the doctor or hospital before consulting with your attorney to avoid inadvertently compromising your case.

Maintain Confidentiality 

Keeping your discussions about the case confidential is essential to protect your legal interests. Do not discuss the details of the incident or your injuries with anyone other than your attorney. Avoid posting anything on social media that could potentially harm your case or be used against you in court. Using discretion to maintain confidentiality helps protect sensitive information and strengthens your position in any legal proceedings.

Potential Damages for a Medical Malpractice Injury

To receive compensation for damages resulting from malpractice, you need to establish several key elements, including:

  • The duty owed to you as the patient
  • The existence of negligence
  • The extent of damages incurred
  • The causal relationship between the negligence and the damages

If you are a victim of medical malpractice, you may be entitled to various types of damages, including:

  • Economic damages. Compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, rehabilitation costs, and other financial losses as a result of the malpractice.
  • Non-economic damages. Compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and other intangible losses.
  • Punitive damages. You may be awarded punitive damages if the medical malpractice was due to extreme negligence or misconduct.  

Burden of Proof for Punitive Damages

It is important to note that punitive damages are not automatically awarded in every medical malpractice case. Instead, they are reserved for cases involving extreme misconduct or recklessness on the defendant's part. 

Missouri’s statute 510.261 was revised in 2020 to heighten the standard for awarding punitive damages. The revised statute requires a plaintiff to show more evidence other than negligence or ordinary carelessness. To recover punitive damages, the plaintiff must provide clear and convincing evidence that the defendant “intentionally harmed the plaintiff without just cause or acted with a deliberate and flagrant disregard for the safety of others.”    

Missouri Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice 

In Missouri, there is a time limit for filing a claim for a medical malpractice injury. The statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is generally two years from the date of the injury or discovery of the malpractice. However, there are exceptions to this rule, such as cases involving minors or cases where the health care provider fraudulently concealed the malpractice. 

Understand that prompt legal action is critical for medical malpractice claims. With the guidance of an experienced medical malpractice lawyer at Peterson & Associates, P.C., you can know your rights, navigate the complexities of the legal system, and seek fair compensation for your losses.