Oklahoma City Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Need an Oklahoma City medical malpractice lawyer? We can help.
Medical malpractice is defined as an act or omission by a doctor during treatment of a patient that falls below the expected standard of care and leads to an injury. Most medical malpractice suits typically involve a professional negligence claim.
As stated above, if the care provided by a doctor or other healthcare professional falls below the usual standard—as determined by how other reasonable professionals would have treated the same patient under similar circumstances—the injured patient may bring a negligence claim against the doctor. Any doctor or health professional who acted negligently is a potentially liable party in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Under Oklahoma Statutes §76-18, any action for damages against a medical professional must be brought within two years of the negligent action.
Common Types of Medical Malpractice
Common situations that can lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit include:
- Failure to treat a condition
- Errors in treatment
- Improperly filling or prescribing medication
- Mistaken or unreasonable diagnosis of a condition
- Birth and delivery injuries
Anyone who believes their doctor or other healthcare professional committed any of the above actions in a way that directly caused the injury, it may be in their best interest to contact an Oklahoma City medical malpractice lawyer.
Elements of Medical Negligence
Similar to a regular negligence claim, an injured patient must prove four elements in order to recover damages. Since every professional inherently owes their patient a duty of care, most medical malpractice cases depend on the plaintiff proving the presence of the other three elements of legal negligence:
- The healthcare professional breached their duty of care
- The breach directly caused injury to their patient
- The patient suffered damages as a direct result of their doctor’s breach of duty
Compensable damages in an Oklahoma City medical malpractice suit typically incorporate physical, emotional, and financial losses, including medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost earning potential.
Compensation in Oklahoma City Medical Malpractice Cases
Damages vary depending on a number of factors, including the type of injury and the circumstances of the person who was injured. Your settlement may cover medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, lost future earnings if there is a permanent disability or death, as well as benefits to provide lifetime care if necessary. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can give you an idea of what you might be expected to receive as compensation in Oklahoma City medical malpractice cases. Also, your attorney will not charge you to take your case. If you win a settlement or judgment, they will receive a percentage of your settlement. If there is no settlement, there is no bill.
Unfortunately, very few people receive compensation in Oklahoma City medical malpractice cases for serious catastrophic injuries or death resulting from medical malpractice. Why? Less than two percent of people who have suffered medical malpractice even try to obtain compensation and a smaller percentage than that actually receive it.
If you or someone you love has been victimized by medical malpractice, you should at the very least consult with a medical malpractice lawyer who is experienced in helping injured victims receive compensation in Oklahoma City medical malpractice cases.
How Long is My Medical Malpractice Case Going to Take?
The standard attorney answer is that “it depends.” Here’s several reasons why it takes a while before a medical malpractice lawsuit is even filed:
- We first need to obtain your medical records. Typically there are multiple hospitals and doctors offices. It generally takes about a month to obtain these. Some medical billing/records departments are really slow about it. These places often require 2-4 letters/faxes and followup phone calls to get them to send the records. A lot of medical providers use a third party billing service, so they’ll be different offices for us to request records from. Some of the services are prompt (they charge us to get the records so they have an incentive to get them to us), while others are cumbersome.
- Once we get all the records together we review them. If we still thing you still have a viable case, we’ll then send the records to a medical expert. This is generally a doctor or a nurse. Oklahoma law requires that an Expert Affidavit be included in any medical malpractice case. We did this as a matter of course before the law went into affect though. It’s basic due diligence on our end to get a medical expert’s opinion. An expert will generally take several weeks to get back the file back to us. It’s typical for a doctor to charge $400/hr to review medical records. A medical malpractice file can easily take a doctor 10 hours to fully review and write an opinion on it.
- If the doctor agrees with us on the case, we pursue the claim. Our next step is to contact the doctor and/or hospital involved in the malpractice by sending our letter of representation (“rep letter”). Note that two to four months could have easily passed from initially meeting with the client/attorney to even get to this point. The defendant’s attorney(s) will generally respond within a few weeks of our rep letter. Sometimes, albeit very infrequently, the opposing side is willing to talk settlement at this point. If settlement talks are not feasible, or they fall through, we file a lawsuit.
Medical Malpractice Damages
In a civil suit in Oklahoma for damages resulting from malpractice by a doctor, hospital or other health provider, there are four kinds of claims for damages that a plaintiff can make.
Economic damages. Economic damages include medical bills (past and future), lost income (past and future), and any other financial losses that have resulted from the malpractice. There is no limit or cap on the amount of economic damages a plaintiff can be awarded.
Noneconomic damages. In addition, a plaintiff may seek non-economic damages for such harms and losses as pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium (loss of the benefits of having a spouse). Oklahoma’s current cap on noneconomic damages is $350,000.
However, there are exceptions to that rule which allow higher noneconomic damage awards. The exceptions are cases in which the defendant showed gross negligence, reckless disregard to the rights of others, fraudulence, or intentional, malicious conduct.
Punitive (exemplary) damages. In the most egregious cases of medical malpractice, a jury may award punitive damages in addition to the economic and noneconomic damages. The cap on punitive damages is $100,000 — or a punitive award equal to the amount of actual damages, if that amount is more than $100,000.
However, if the jury finds that intentional, malicious wrongdoing occurred, a punitive damage award of up to $500,000 is allowed. And if it is determined that the patient’s life was endangered by the malpractice, there is no cap on damages.
Wrongful. If a death resulted from the wrong actions of a medical provider, then the patient’s family and/or heirs are entitled to pursue a wrongful death claim (Oklahoma Statutes, Title 12, Section 1053). There is no cap on the award for a wrongful death claim.
Free Consultation with an Oklahoma City Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you or a loved one has received medical care that you believe constitutes malpractice or wrongful death, you need to know your legal rights. Contact Hasbrook and Hasbrook for a free consultation.