Seeking Medical Help

At some point in life, nearly everyone turns to our healthcare system for help. Treatment comes from anywhere within the healthcare system, including doctors, nurses, hospitals and clinics. The patient receives either a positive or negative outcome. According to a 2017 study from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, the vast majority of Americans have positive experiences within the healthcare system. However, 21 percent of Americans report having encountered a medical error while receiving treatment. Minor medical errors can be expected, but any medical error can cause harm and end up in court as a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Recognizing Medical Malpractice

When a health care provider is negligent, this can cause injury or even death. For example, a high school football player goes to the hospital for a routine torn anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, outpatient repair. The anesthesiologist fails to inject a crucial drug into the young man’s system, a drug that would have prevented the young man’s death. The doctor violated the standard of care, which is negligence and medical malpractice.

Medical malpractice law involves “damages”. Damages include physical harm, like death in the example above, but damages also include lost wages, medical bills or being unable to care for family. Damages that come from medical malpractice can be restored in the court of law.

Deciding to Sue

If there is belief that the patient was harmed as a result of negligent actions, the patient or in some instances, their family members have the option to challenge this outcome. In adherence with the Commonwealth of Virginia’s statute of limitations, people generally have up to two years to file a claim. After two years, the victim is no longer eligible to sue.

To challenge this outcome, the victim needs to consult a plaintiff’s attorney, a lawyer who works with the person bringing the lawsuit. Before filing the lawsuit, the attorney will review the victim’s records and decide if the case has merit.

Finding an Attorney

In the Commonwealth of Virginia, are not licensed by specialties. Most firms focus their practices on either criminal or civil law. Civil practices generally choose to represent defendants or plaintiffs. While any plaintiff’s lawyer can take a medical case, it is wise to choose one who has significant expertise, as this is a complicated lawsuit.

Gary Brooks Mims of the Sickels, Frei and Mims law firm is a plaintiff’s attorney who has worked on hundreds of medical malpractice cases. After graduating from George Mason University School of Law in 1979, Gary began practicing law in 1980. He originally gained an interest in medical malpractice cases as a defense attorney, defending the negligent professionals and corporations. In 1999, however, Gary became a plaintiff’s attorney, now defending the victims of medical malpractice.

Reviewing the Claim

With a deep understanding of law and medicine, Gary reviews a client’s case thoroughly before officially filing the claim. Taking an upwards of six months to complete the review, Gary seeks all pertinent medical information as well as the most qualified experts to give their opinion.

Gary first obtains all medical records, including doctor’s and nurse’s notes, surgical notes, medications, labs and tests. Then he searches the country for the leading medical expert in this specific area of medicine.

Professors of medicine are some of the best experts to have for medical malpractice cases. As teachers, these individuals are knowledgeable and understand how to teach people content. If the case is brought to court, they will know how to inform the jury, who may consist of members with little to no knowledge of the medical field, about the various factors of the medical case.

This expert will testify to “the standard of care”. There is no legislative act that defines a precise standard of care because it is simply one person’s opinion on what a reasonably prudent, or thoughtful, health care provider would do in a similar situation. Typically, if the expert believes that the standard of care was violated, Gary files the lawsuit.

Taking it to Court

It can take around one year for a medical malpractice lawsuit to actually reach court. Once there, the defense and the plaintiff argue about the victim’s standard of care. Both sides present their argument, outlining what they believe are the proper procedures of a prudent health care provider in that specific situation. The jury then decides which explanation seems more legitimate. In order for the plaintiff to win, there must be evident damages, but there also must be proof that, more likely than not, the health care provider was negligent. Gary won $1.245 million because doctors failed to diagnose a patient with prostate cancer, and he won new track safety regulations because of a train derailment in Washington, D.C. The rewards for medical malpractice cases range depending on the need from case.

Contacting Gary Brooks Mims

If you believe that either you or a loved one have been a victim of medical malpractice, seek justice. Contact Gary Brooks Mims at gary.mims@sfmlawyers.com.

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