Vancouver, WA Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Patients trust doctors, surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, and other medical professionals to correctly diagnose and to administer treatment. However, doctors make mistakes. Medical errors can range from a misdiagnosis, a failure to diagnose, or medication or surgical errors. In some cases, these medical errors leave patients with long-term injuries or disabilities that lead to the death of a loved one.
If you have reason to believe that you or a loved one suffered a worsened illness or condition that could have been resolved with proper medical care, you may have a valid medical malpractice case. Paulson Coletti Trial Attorneys PC can help you seek justice and compensation for what occurred.
Why Choose Us
At Paulson Coletti Trial Attorneys PC, our litigation team has extensive experience with medical malpractice cases in Vancouver and throughout Washington. We have built a remarkable record of success on several of our core strengths:
- We are honest and transparent with our clients, acting in their best interests rather than our own.
- We aggressive negotiators and experienced trial lawyers. We will not hesitate to take your case to trial to recover the maximum possible compensation.
- We maintain a small caseload, which enables us to give undivided, personal attention to the clients that we represent.
Examples of Medical Malpractice
Any medical malpractice claim has unique circumstances, including factors that may be hidden from view without a full investigation into the facts. Examples of common problems include:
- Misdiagnosis: An incorrect diagnosis can lead to months or even years of treatment that does not address the existing physical condition. As a result, the symptoms can worsen, and once identified, may be untreatable, such as advanced cancer. A wrong diagnosis may be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
- Delayed Diagnosis: If a medical professional does not perform tests that the symptoms indicated should be performed, an accurate diagnosis could be delayed, and the illness, condition or disease may advance and result in serious or fatal consequences.
- Surgical Errors: Surgical errors can include surgery on the wrong body part, surgeries incorrectly performed, or surgical tools or other items left within the body.
- Medication Errors: Medications administered to the patient may be in the incorrect quantity, or the incorrect type, leading to serious complications or even loss of life.
- Untreated Injuries Resulting from Surgery: If a doctor fails to notice or treat an injury resulting from surgery, this can lead to infections or other complications.
No matter what type of incident caused your injuries or a loved one’s death in Vancouver, speak to an attorney. Our medical malpractice lawyers have extensive experience handling all kinds of claims in this practice area. We know how to fight for your rights and achieve fair compensation for damages.
Who is Liable?
After a medical mistake in Washington, the medical professional will most likely bear liability for damages. A cause of action could name an individual doctor or another healthcare professional, if the physician was an independent contractor at the time of the incident. If the at-fault professional was an employee of a hospital or healthcare center, however, the facility will be vicariously liable for the actions of the employee. This can result in naming the facility and the individual as defendants in a case.
It is also possible to have third parties be defendants in your medical malpractice lawsuit. If a medication error caused the injuries, for example, the drug manufacturer or pharmacy that provided the drug could share liability. A medical device manufacturer could also absorb liability if a defective product contributed to the incident. It is important to speak to an attorney about who might be liable in your specific medical malpractice case. Many cases involve multiple defendants sharing liability.
Has the Doctor Already Encountered Legal Trouble?
The National Practitioner Data Bank offers important insights into medical malpractice lawsuits around the United States. According to data, medical malpractice is not random. Cases occur against relatively few practitioners in the country. Only 5.9% of doctors accounted for 57.8% of all medical malpractice payouts between 1990 and 2005. Just 1.1% of doctors accounted for 20.2% of payments. You can find out if your doctor has already been a defendant in a medical malpractice lawsuit or payout using a few simple resources.
- State medical board. The Washington Medical Commission licenses doctors in the state of Washington. It is responsible for investigating and disciplining physicians. You can check for actions against your doctor through this medical board’s website. The Commission receives thousands of complaints per year.
- Public records. Check the public records for any past or ongoing lawsuits against your physician, hospital, or healthcare provider. Medical malpractice lawsuits that go to court immediately become part of public record. A simple Google search could give you this information, or you can request data from your county clerk.
- Consumer reviews. Reviews from previous patients are not exactly legal documents, but it can point to common mistakes or underlying flaws at the heart of the system. Save or print negative customer reviews regarding your doctor or healthcare center. These could serve as red flags that support your medical malpractice lawsuit.
- Fellow physicians. Ask around about the doctor or clinic. Ask friends and family members if they have heard anything about the physician. Request a second opinion from another doctor or specialist near you.
- Local attorney. Contact a local medical malpractice law firm to ask about lawsuits against your physician or doctor’s office. Although an attorney cannot disclose confidential client information, he or she can let you know if any past or pending lawsuits exist against your provider.
Although a prior medical malpractice claim, patient complaint, or infraction does not automatically mean you have a case, it does point to a pattern of negligence. Finding evidence of negligence or malpractice from your provider in the past could serve to support your current lawsuit now. A lawyer can help you check the malpractice records of a practitioner, as well as state licensing boards and law enforcement agencies.
Medical Malpractice Laws in Washington
Each state has unique medical malpractice laws plaintiffs must follow to successfully file claims. These laws include deadlines for filing, mandatory mediation, and witness requirements. Obeying all the requirements the first time around can save you time and money on legal fees. Working with an attorney can ensure that you fulfill the necessities without any unnecessary delays or obstacles.
- Statute of limitations. Plaintiffs in Washington State have three years from the date the incidents occurred to file medical malpractice lawsuits. If the victim did not discover injuries until later, he or she has one year from the discovery of the injury to bring a cause of action. In cases involving minor victims, parents or guardians can file on behalf of the child, or the child can file within one year of his or her 18th A wrongful death lawsuit must come within three years of the date of death.
- Mandatory mediation. Washington has had a mandatory mediation program for medical malpractice claims since 1993. Any claim involving medical malpractice or healthcare must go through mediation, or an intervention to resolve a dispute. Mediation tolls, or extends, the statute of limitations on these claims by one year. A lawyer can help expedite the mediation process as much as possible.
- Medical witness requirements. Many states require plaintiffs to obtain affidavits of merit from medical experts. These documents state that a physician believes the plaintiff has grounds for a claim. Washington does not require an affidavit of merit, but a medical expert may be necessary to testify if the case does not involve an obvious or gross deviation from accepted standards of care.
- Liability laws. Washington obeys pure comparative negligence laws. Even if a plaintiff shares responsibility for his or her injuries, the plaintiff can receive partial compensation. The courts will simply reduce the plaintiff’s compensation by an amount that matches his or her percentage of fault. An attorney can help you minimize your fault to maximize your payout.
Working with a medical malpractice lawyer in Vancouver prevents you from having to become an expert in related law. A lawyer will navigate the law and handle the complex legal aspects of your claim while you focus on healing from your injuries. Your attorney can help you use state laws to your best advantage to collect as much financial recovery as possible for your damages.
Proving a Medical Malpractice Case
The success of a medical malpractice case in Vancouver will hinge on establishing that the injury is the result of the negligence of a doctor, surgeon, anesthesiologist, nurse, or another medical professional. It must be established that the medical professional failed to administer the “accepted standard of care,” or treatment that another similarly trained medical professional would have performed under similar circumstances.
Several matters must be established in a medical malpractice lawsuit:
- Proof of the existence of a doctor-patient relationship between the injured party and the medical professional accused of malpractice.
- Proof that the medical professional provided care to the patient that failed to meet accepted standards of care.
- A causal connection between the medical negligence and harm to the patient.
- Quantifiable harm (damages) to the patient resulting from the act or acts of medical negligence.
These points are established through expert testimony, often countered by defense medical experts. The skills with which the case is crafted and presented in court is a key point in a jury response. Our litigation team is exceptionally talented in case development and presentation. We offer a free initial interview to assist you to determine if you have a valid case of medical malpractice.
Damages You Can Recover
Washington state has no limit on the financial damages that can be awarded in malpractice cases. You can pursue damages to cover medical expenses, including continuing care when needed, lost wages, lost earning potential and the impact upon quality of life, loss of consortium, and pain and suffering. You can earn two main types of damages in a successful medical malpractice lawsuit in Washington.
- Compensatory damages aim to compensate the victim for the actual, specific losses he or she suffered because of the malpractice. Compensatory damages seek to make the plaintiff whole by offering money for related medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Both economic and noneconomic damages fall under the umbrella of compensatory recovery. It is easier to calculate economic damages than noneconomic.
- Rather than helping the plaintiff recover, the point of punitive damages is to punish the defendant. A judge in Washington may award punitive damages in addition to a compensatory award if the defendant is guilty of gross negligence, malicious intent to harm, or reckless endangerment. Punitive damages serve as a lesson to the healthcare provider and others, to prevent future misconduct. Surgical malpractice, fraud, and altering medical records all commonly result in punitive damages.
Discover the potential value of your medical malpractice case during a free consultation at our local law office. Our attorneys will review the facts of your case, look over your malpractice-related losses, and help assign a monetary value to your lawsuit. Do not accept an insurance settlement until you learn the true value of your case from one of our attorneys. If your case involves severe, debilitating, or life-threatening injuries, it is likely worth more than a typical injury claim.
Why You Need an Experienced Vancouver Lawyer
Medical malpractice cases are some of the more complex personal injury cases to bring to a resolution. Medical malpractice cases must meet the standard of proof, with a strong case backing them to be considered viable. To prevail, it is imperative that you are represented by experienced counsel. Our medical malpractice trial lawyers are known for their professionalism, legal skills, and ability to achieve positive outcomes for those they represent, both in and out of court.
Contact Us Today
Contact Paulson Coletti Trial Attorneys PC in Vancouver, WA for a free case consultation. Our personal injury attorneys are ready to take your call regardless of your location in The Pacific Northwest. All medical malpractice cases are taken on a contingency fee basis – you owe no legal fees unless we win.