Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Columbia, SC
Our Columbia Medical Malpractice Lawyers at the Strom Law Firm are familiar with litigating South Carolina personal injury cases and can often help victims recover substantially more compensation than they would be able to retain on their own, so it is highly advisable for anyone injured as a result of medical malpractice to discuss their options with one of our Columbia Medical Malpractice Lawyers.
The core principle of the practice of medicine states, “First, do no harm.” Even so, inept and negligent doctors injure patients all the time. The Civil Justice Resource Group estimates that 65,000 to 200,000 deaths occur due to medical mishaps every year. This means that medical malpractice victimizes the equivalent of one percent of all hospital patients.
If injured by the mistakes of a doctor, you may be able to bring a claim against the doctor or the medical care facility to seek compensation for your injury. Medical malpractice cases are often complex and very difficult to prove. It is important to have a skilled and experienced attorney on your side. At Strom Law Firm, our Columbia Medical Malpractice Lawyers have the experience representing victimized patients, and we want to fight for you in the unfortunate circumstance that a doctor or medical staff injures you.
Medical Malpractice Defined
Medical malpractice is defined by South Carolina statute as follows: “‘ Medical malpractice’ means doing that which the reasonably prudent health care provider or health care institution would not do or not doing that which the reasonably prudent health care provider or health care institution would do in the same or similar circumstances.” When undertaking medical treatment and procedures, medical providers must adhere to steps that a reasonably prudent provider would take or not take.
If a doctor happens to be a specialist in a particular field, that doctor should make judgments that a similarly situated specialist would make.
Medical Malpractice Examples
Medical providers or doctors fail to meet their relevant standards of care in different ways. At Strom Law Firm, our Columbia Medical Malpractice Lawyers have seen various types of medical malpractice:
- Anesthesia errors. Too often, mistakes are made during the administration of anesthesia, and the consequences are devastating. Such a mistake by an anesthesiologist can cause significant brain damage and sometimes death. Some mistakes include failing to be properly informed of the patient’s medical needs or surgical history, as well as failure to properly monitor vital signs.
- Birthing injury. Both mother and child are sometimes victims of medical malpractice before, during, and after birth.
- Failure to diagnose. Sometimes, even with all of the necessary information available, a doctor may fail to diagnose a serious injury or life-threatening disease. They may even make an incorrect diagnosis.
- Prescription mistakes. A provider may prescribe medicine that is harmful to the patient due to either the type of medication or the amount of medication.
- Surgical malpractice. Believe it or not, surgeons, far too often, leave foreign objects in a patient’s body after surgery. Many other mistakes are also possibilities.
- Abandonment of care. Doctors often mistakenly believe they can cut off communication with their patients. They cannot.
- Failure to adequately describe the risks of certain treatments or procedures to a patient. Informed consent first requires that the patient be informed and fully understand potential outcomes.
All medical injuries are unique, and whether a medical provider has committed malpractice will depend on the individual facts of the case. You should contact one of our Columbia personal injury lawyers immediately if you believe you are a victim of medical malpractice.
Developing a Medical Malpractice Case
Medical malpractice cases are complex. Preparation is key, but we handle all of the hard work. You will likely need an expert witness to testify to information that is outside the realm of common knowledge. We will find the right medical experts for your case to ensure that the jury can understand your doctor’s mistakes.
That same expert, or another, will likely need to testify to prove that the medical provider’s actions, or lack thereof, caused your injuries.
We have spent years developing relationships with high quality and reliable expert witnesses. Using such highly regarded witnesses can add significant value to a claim, while also putting pressure on the defendant’s representatives. Our Columbia medical malpractice lawyers will select the right expert for your situation.
Medical facilities and providers are often stubborn about what information they are willing to turn over to a plaintiff. It is important to push for every relevant record available. It is also essential that you, as the plaintiff, preserve any potential evidence that may be in your possession. Evidence can come in many forms:
- Expert Reports and Testimony
Strom Law Firm attorneys are experienced in developing medical malpractice cases and are ready to work hard towards recovering your compensation.
Pursuing Compensation for Your Columbia Medical Malpractice Injuries
South Carolina has taken steps to make claims more difficult for medical malpractice victims. Statutes have been passed to protect doctors and create additional hurdles that must be crossed before a lawsuit is even filed.
Prior to filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, a plaintiff must:
- File a Notice of Intent to file suit
- Along with the notice of intent, a plaintiff must file an expert affidavit.
- In order to provide that affidavit, an expert must have the opportunity to review medical records and determine that a mistake was likely made.
- Finally, a mediation conference is required.
All of the above is required before a lawsuit is even filed. If any requirements are overlooked, you may be prohibited from filing a lawsuit at all.
10 Common Columbia Medical Malpractice FAQs
For many medical patients in Columbia, the relationship with their doctor is one of the most significant. Because of the trust involved, it can be quite devastating to find out that you suffered a serious injury because of the negligent actions of your medical provider.
However, you do not have to go through this traumatic ordeal on your own. This blog post will help you understand the actions you need to take following a medical malpractice incident; specifically, discussing the frequently asked questions many victims have after suffering a medical malpractice injury and how a Columbia medical malpractice attorney can help you.
Even though the successful outcome of a medical malpractice lawsuit cannot reverse your pain and suffering, it can provide you the compensation you need to get through the financial burdens that medical malpractice has placed on you.
1. What are some common examples of medical malpractice in Columbia?
Medical malpractice can occur in many forms.
However, in Columbia, some of the most common examples of medical malpractice we encounter include:
- Misdiagnoses: Resulting when a physician diagnoses a patient with the wrong illness or does not diagnose them as quickly as a competent doctor would.
- Surgery errors: When a doctor operates on the wrong patient or the wrong body party, leaves objects in the patient’s body, improperly administers or monitors anesthesia, lacerates the surrounding organs, or performs unnecessary surgeries.
- Medication prescriptions: When a medical professional prescribes the wrong medication or dosage to a patient.
- Laboratory results: When a medical professional misreads or ignores laboratory results and does not order proper tests.
- Aftercare: When a medical professional provides poor follow-up care or premature discharge.
2. In Columbia, does medical malpractice only relate to improper care by a doctor?
Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed by a medical professional who falls short in their standard of care in the treatment they provide to their patient or fails to perform their medical duties competently.
While the term “medical professional” often refers to doctors, it can also apply to:
- Physical Therapists
- Physician Assistants
- Urgent Cares
- Health Care Clinics
Discussing your claim with an experienced Columbia medical malpractice attorney can help you figure out which medical professional is to blame for your injuries, and pursue a claim against all those at fault.
3. If I suffered harm due to medical malpractice, what do I need to prove in a medical malpractice claim in Columbia?
Medical malpractice happens when a health care professional injures a patient through an omission or a negligent act. This negligence can result from an error in a patient’s treatment, aftercare, health management, or diagnosis. However, under the law, to have a claim for medical malpractice, you need to prove:
The doctor owed a duty to the patient. The first thing you need to show in a medical malpractice claim is that the doctor owed you a duty of care and that a doctor-patient relationship existed when the medical malpractice occurred. This first element is usually established when a physician voluntarily decides to assist a patient.
Some evidence that can show this relationship includes:
- The patient decided to be treated by a doctor
- The doctor examined and treated the patient
- The doctor’s treatments were ongoing
The doctor violated the standard of care. The law recognizes specific medical standards as being appropriate medical treatments by reasonably prudent medical professionals under similar circumstances. This medical standard is considered the standard of care. As a patient, you have a right to expect your medical professional to deliver this type of care. If they do not, they may be found negligent.
An injury resulted from the negligence. Unfortunately, it is not enough to show that a medical professional violated the standard of care. Rather, the patient also needs to show that their injury resulted from a medical professional’s negligence. That is why if your surgery resulted in a bad outcome, this is not enough to prove medical malpractice. You also need to show that the doctor’s negligence caused your injury.
The patient suffered significant damages from the injury. What many individuals do not realize is that medical malpractice cases are incredibly expensive to litigate. This means that if the damages are small, the cost of pursuing a medical malpractice case may be larger than the possible recovery that these patients can receive.
Consequently, to have a viable medical malpractice case, the patient needs to show they suffered significant damages that resulted from their medical malpractice injury. This includes showing the injury led to a loss of income, severe pain and suffering, and substantial medical bills.
4. If I want to file a medical malpractice claim in Columbia, how long do I have?
Typically, the medical malpractice statute of limitations in South Carolina is three years from the date of the medical malpractice or from the date the injury was or reasonably could have been discovered. However, this deadline cannot exceed six years from the date of the occurrence. If a lawsuit is not filed within this time, you may be barred from pursuing damages for your injuries.
However, there are certain exceptions to this six-year medical malpractice deadline. For instance, if a foreign object was left in the body after surgery, a lawsuit needs to be filed within two years from the date the item’s presence was discovered.
Because of the complexities involved with filing a medical malpractice suit, it is imperative to work with an experienced Columbia medical malpractice attorney. These lawyers can figure out exactly how much time you have to file your claim and ensure that everything is filed within the allotted time.
5. Are there any prerequisites to filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Columbia?
Before you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit in Columbia, the injured patient needs to file with the court a “Notice of Intent to File Suit” and an affidavit of an expert witness. The injured patient also needs to serve all the healthcare providers subject to the lawsuit with this Notice.
The notice of intent to file suit. According to South Carolina’s laws, this Notice of Intent to File Suit must contain:
- The name of all the healthcare providers who can be sued
- A short and direct statement of the facts indicating how and why the injured patient is entitled to relief
- The Notice needs to be signed by the injured patient or their attorney and
- It needs to include answers to interrogatories or disclosures required by the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure
Affidavit of an expert witness. Additionally, South Carolina’s rules require a victim patient to file an affidavit of an expert witness. This affidavit needs to be prepared by a qualified medical expert witness and specify at least one negligent act on the part of the at-fault medical care provider. Additionally, the affidavit also needs to have a factual basis for each claim based on available evidence.
When you work with a skilled and knowledgeable Columbia medical malpractice attorney, they can meet these prerequisites and draft and file all documents correctly.
6. What steps do I need to take following a medical malpractice injury in Columbia?
Medical malpractice cases are incredibly taxing, difficult to prove, and require significant evidence. However, taking specific actions following a medical malpractice incident can help relieve some of this burden.
These critical steps include:
- Get a new physician: If your doctor knows that you are thinking of filing a medical malpractice case, they may take certain actions in hopes of minimizing your chance of success. To avoid this, find a new physician as quickly as possible. In addition, these new medical professionals can give you a second opinion in terms of your injury and treatments. This can help confirm whether your injury resulted from medical malpractice.
- Get copies of your medical records: It is in your best interest to get your medical reports shortly after your medical malpractice event. This can help ensure that your files are not tampered with or lost. Obtaining these medical records can also go a long way in helping you prove the existence of a patient-doctor relationship.
- Continue to get treatments: When you find your new doctor, make sure you continue to get treatments and do what the doctor tells you. These treatments can help your lawyer understand the medical harm you endured and the extent of the harm.
- Keep a journal: Make sure you keep a journal detailing your medical malpractice accident. Jot down specific details of the incident that can show what you went through because of this injury. Include entries about your pain and suffering, activities you had to miss out on because of the injury, the types of treatments you now have to endure, and the services you need following your injury.
- Do not talk about the accident to others: Avoid posting any grievances about your situation on social media, posts on support groups, or anywhere else that the defendant’s attorneys can find. These types of statements can end up hindering your case and the amount of damages you can pursue.
7. How much compensation can I recover in a Columbia medical malpractice lawsuit?
One of the most common legal questions relating to a medical malpractice injury is “how much compensation can I recover?” However, no attorney can provide you with an exact amount of damages you can receive for your medical malpractice claim. This is because every situation is different, and each case is unique. Consequently, numerous factors can influence the value of a claim.
In South Carolina, if you were injured by medical malpractice, you may seek:
- Medical expenses including past, current, and future medical bills
- Lost wages including past, current, and future lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Replacement service costs
- At-home nursing care
- Medical devices costs (wheelchair, home modifications)
- Rehabilitative service costs including vocational and physical therapy
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Physical disfigurement
- Loss of reputation
- Loss of enjoyment of life and activities
However, how much compensation you receive from these damages will depend on how severe your injuries are, the amount of medical treatments necessary, whether you have a physical disability, and the extent of your pain and suffering. Additionally, South Carolina may cap some of these damages. As a result, you need to speak with a skilled medical malpractice attorney that can determine which damages you can pursue and which factors may affect the amount of your compensation.
8. What does “informed consent” mean?
A healthcare professional must obtain a patient’s informed consent before engaging in a procedure. This generally involves apprising the patient of the risks and benefits of the particular procedure, as well as any alternative options. In South Carolina, a healthcare professional has a duty to disclose:
- The diagnosis
- The nature of the procedure
- The risks associated with the procedure
- The likelihood the procedure will be successful
- The prognosis if the patient forgoes the procedure
- Whether any alternatives to the procedure exist
If you were injured during a procedure for which you did not provide informed consent, you may be entitled to compensation.
9. If I am partially at fault for my injury, am I still entitled to compensation?
You may be entitled to compensation if you were partially at fault for your injury. South Carolina is a “modified comparative negligence” state, meaning that your damages may be reduced if you are found to be partially at fault for your injury. If a patient is found to be partially at fault, their overall damages award may be reduced in proportion to the percentage of such fault. If the patient’s percentage of fault is greater than that of the healthcare professional, the patient may be precluded from recovery entirely. Accordingly, so long as you are not found to be more at fault for your injury than the healthcare professional, you may still be entitled to compensation.
10. Why do I need to contact a Columbia medical malpractice attorney following my medical malpractice injury?
Medical malpractice lawsuits are extremely complicated not only because of the numerous legal and medical issues involved, but because of the procedural rules that South Carolina requires before you can file a malpractice lawsuit. As a result, if you are looking to file a medical malpractice injury claim, you need an experienced Columbia medical malpractice attorney on your side.
These lawyers can:
- Answer any questions you have and provide you with the legal advice you need.
- Meet the prerequisites to filing a medical malpractice claim.
- Investigate the accident and gather critical documents and medical reports required to show what happened and who was at fault.
- Handle the negotiations with the other side and fight for a fair settlement offer.
- Take your case to trial and go after maximum compensation on your behalf.
If you or a loved one was injured because of medical malpractice, you need to get legal help you can trust. Do not wait any longer. Contact an experienced Columbia medical malpractice attorney at the Strom Law Firm, LLC today and let them pursue the justice and compensation you deserve.
Contact our Columbia Medical Malpractice Lawyers Today
If a Columbia medical malpractice injury has affected your life or a loved one’s, contact one of our Columbia Medical Malpractice Lawyers today. Visit us at our Columbia office, contact us online, or give us a call at 803-252-4800 to schedule a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation with someone in our office.
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