According to researchers at Johns Hopkins, each year, *nearly 250,000 people receive negligent medical care that results in a fatality, making medical malpractice one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Millions more are injured every year, building distrust between the public and the health care industry.
The American health care system entitles citizens to safe and competent care designed to protect and better their lives. Doctors, physicians, nurses, hospitals, and surgery centers, among others, are required to meet a “standard of care” by providing appropriate medical treatment as would be provided by any other medical professional in a similar situation. When accidents due to medical malpractice or negligence occur, resulting in serious and permanent injury or wrongful death, patients and their families have the right to seek justice and reparations through a lawsuit.
If you or someone you love has been the victim of medical malpractice or negligence, it is important to seek legal assistance immediately. Many states, like Wyoming, have a short window of opportunity, referred to as a “statute of limitations,” to file a claim.
Medical malpractice cases can be notoriously complicated due to the labyrinth of state and federal laws, exceptions, and the possibility of multiple injuries or organizations that hold liability. The experienced medical malpractice lawyers at the Fitzgerald Law Firm understand how devastating and traumatic an injury at the hands of a medical provider can be and we are here to help you through the process from start to finish.
What are common examples of medical malpractice?
A report from the National Library of Medicine states that instances of medical negligence with serious consequences are more likely to occur in intensive care units, operating rooms, and emergency departments. Negligence in medical malpractice cases can occur in a variety of ways including:
- Delivery errors causing birth injuries
- A delay or failure in diagnosing a disease
- A surgical or anesthesia-related mistake during an operation
- Failure to gain the informed consent of the patient for an operation or surgical procedure
- A physician that has made the correct diagnosis, but then fails to provide proper treatment
- Misuse of prescription drugs or a defective medical device or implant
- Wrongful amputation
- Surgical errors
- Medication errors
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University imply that most errors are not the sole responsibility of the doctor or practitioner and can also be the result of larger, systemic problems within hospitals or the health care system including:
- Poorly coordinated care
- Fragmented insurance networks
- The absence or underuse of safety protocols
- Variation in physician practice patterns
- Lack of accountability
What is needed to prove medical malpractice?
In order to have a successful lawsuit the plaintiff must prove the following criteria:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of accepted standard of medical care
- The health care provider breached their duty by failing to meet the accepted standard of care
- The health care provider’s failure to meet the accepted standard of care was a cause of injury to the plaintiff; and
- This failure caused injuries or death
Before you can bring a medical malpractice case you must have expert witnesses testify as to what “the accepted standard of medical care” is and demonstrate how the defendant failed “to meet that acceptable standard of care.”
Wyoming’s Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is a state law that sets a limit on the amount of time a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit. After that time period expires, the plaintiff is unable to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against negligent doctors and/or health care providers in that particular case.
In Wyoming, a medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed within two years of the medical error. If the error is not discovered until sometime during the second year of the two-year period, “the period for commencing a lawsuit shall be extended by six months.” However, if the malpractice was “not reasonably discoverable” within those first two years, or if the plaintiff failed to discover it “despite the exercise of due diligence,” then the case must be brought within two years of the date when the malpractice is actually discovered.
There are exceptions to the statute of limitations for minors, allowing them additional time to file a medical negligence lawsuit.
Due to these time restraints and possible exceptions, it is important to seek the guidance of an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as you suspect that you or someone you love has been the victim of medical malpractice or negligence.
Note about the Wyoming Medical Review Panel
In 2021, the State of Wyoming voted to abolish the Wyoming Medical Review Panel, which was a previously required step in the medical malpractice filing process. Beginning July 1, 2022, medical malpractice claims will no longer require review by the Wyoming Medical Review Panel. The panel will remain active for existing claims that are awaiting finalized decisions.
What Damages can be Recovered from a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
The damages in medical malpractice vary depending on the facts of every case. Injuries caused by medical negligence can be severe and the resulting medical costs can be overwhelming. The practitioner or institution that is at fault for providing sub-par treatment that results in injury or death is financially responsible for all of the damages caused by the incident. If negligence caused personal injury, the potential damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress experienced as a result of the injuries and those reasonably probable to be experienced in the future
- Disability and/or disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life and any loss of enjoyment of life reasonably probable to be experienced in the future
- Loss of earnings and earning capacity
- Medical expenses
Contact a Wyoming Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed at the hands of a medical provider it is important to contact an experienced attorney immediately. Each medical malpractice case is unique and requires an experienced assessment of the situation, the resulting injuries, and the parties involved, as well as expert testimony from industry specialists.
Reaching out to an attorney is the first step in finding out if you have a case. The experienced Wyoming medical malpractice lawyers at The Fitzgerald Law Firm can answer your questions during a free, confidential consultation. Contact us here and let us help you on your road towards recovery.
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