Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Seattle
We trust our doctors and nurses to be focused and professional in providing healthcare to us. However, there are some times when doctors make mistakes during diagnosis, treatment, or surgery. In some cases, these errors are so serious that patients suffer harm and require additional medical treatment.
Being misdiagnosed or improperly treated can have long-lasting, negative consequences for patients, and take a severe emotional and financial toll on their families. Some medical mistakes may even result in death.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical negligence or malpractice, the dedicated Seattle personal injury lawyers at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. can help you better understand your legal rights and options. Call our offices at (888) 228-3860 for a free consultation.
Medical malpractice occurs whenever a medical professional (physician, nurse, phlebotomist, etc.) or medical institution (hospital, clinic, urgent care, etc.) acts improperly, or fails to act properly, resulting in harm to a patient. All medical professionals must provide a certain "standard of care" to the patients they treat. This means that they must deliver a quality of care that is equal to what other medical professionals would provide in similar circumstances. When medical professionals fail to provide this "standard of care," they are guilty of medical malpractice and can be held accountable for the harm they cause a patient.
For instance, a patient goes to a doctor with an infected cut on his foot. The generally accepted treatment for such a condition would be to clean the wound and order antibiotics for the patient. If the attending doctor cleaned the wound, but didn’t administer or order antibiotics for the patient, and the infection got worse, that would constitute medical malpractice.
If you are the victim of a mistake made by a doctor or other healthcare professional, you may be able to pursue compensation for your losses by filing a medical malpractice claim. However, since plaintiffs in personal injury cases have the burden of proof, you must be able to show that the medical professional made a mistake and that you suffered harm as a direct consequence of that mistake. This is why you need an experienced medical malpractice attorney to handle your claim.
Washington is a pure comparative negligence state. This means any tort settlement, including medical malpractice, is reduced in direct proportion to the claimant’s fault in the matter. This fact seldom comes into play in the instance of malpractice. It is the medical providers’ job to provide professional care, and the patient is not responsible for mistakes made by the medical staff.
The only instance where a medical professional would not be liable for malpractice is under the Good Samaritan Law in Washington. This law covers any medical professional or non-medical professional who renders aid at the scene of an emergency, is not compensated for the care provided, and did not act with willful or wanton misconduct or commit omissions constituting gross negligence. Good Samaritan Law, however, excludes employees who provide emergency care as a part of their regular course of duty or employment, like paramedics.
Joint and several liability rules also apply in Washington. So as long as the claimant has no personal fault in the medical malpractice, he or she may collect some or all of the verdict from any at-fault party. The party’s actual percentage of fault has no impact on the amount he or she can be required to pay. This helps to ensure that the victim is compensated fairly.
In malpractice cases, each individual doctor who contributed to the malpractice, including surgeons, radiologists who misread tests, or anesthesiologists, can be specifically named in the lawsuit. In the case of a hospital employee who commits an act of negligence in the course of his or her regular duties, the hospital can ultimately be held responsible for the act of the employee. If the patient’s injury was caused by a medication error, the pharmacist or pharmaceutical company that provided the drug could also potentially be liable. Additionally, if a medical device malfunctions, the device manufacturer could be to blame.
Wrongful death because of a medical mistake is increasing. In the 1999 "To Err is Human" report, 98,000 deaths per year were estimated. Now, recent studies have concluded that number is closer to 500,000 deaths a year in U.S. hospitals because of medical malpractice. There are a vast number of situations that can lead to a medical malpractice claim. Here are some of the more common cases:
- Failure to diagnose, misdiagnosis, or delayed diagnosis - The patient may have a viable medical malpractice claim if a doctor failed to diagnose his or her condition, misdiagnosed the condition, or diagnosed it too late. Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose may prevent patients from getting the treatment and care they need in a timely manner, therefore causing further harm.
- Failure to monitor – A medical professional’s obligation to a patient doesn’t end with diagnosis; it carries through until the treatment has run its course. This may include ordering blood work and reviewing lab results, keeping an eye on a patient during surgery, scheduling follow-up visits, etc.
- Improper treatment - If a doctor fails to treat the patient in a manner in which another competent doctor would, that would be considered malpractice. The patient may also sue for medical malpractice if the doctor diagnoses the condition properly and selects the proper course of treatment, but executes it improperly.
- Failure to warn - Doctors have a duty and an obligation to warn patients about the known risks of a procedure or treatment. This is called the duty of informed consent.
Depending on the extent of your injuries and the circumstances that led to those injuries, you may seek compensation for any of the following losses:
- Present and future medical bills related to your injuries
- Permanent injury or disability
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish and emotional trauma
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Household and vehicle modifications to accommodate your injuries (wheelchair ramps and lifts, hospital beds, etc.)
- Costs of in-home care—permanent or temporary
- Hedonic damages for loss of joy of life (if your injury prevents you from doing something you formerly enjoyed, such as running, golfing, etc.)
- Lost wages (this includes time taken off for doctor appointments, physical therapy, etc.)
- Loss of career or earning capacity
- Costs of learning a new career
- Wrongful death damages, including:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering of the deceased before death
- Loss of future income
- Loss of benefits (such as medical benefits, pensions, retirement, etc.)
- Loss of affection, friendship, guidance, marital consortium, etc.
- Loss of household duties the deceased performed (childcare, property maintenance, bookkeeping, chores, etc.)
A: If you or a family member has suffered injury from a healthcare provider, the best thing to do is to consult with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. At Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., we offer a free case evaluation with no obligation. If we take your case, we will represent you with no retainer fees, out-of-pocket expenses, or other upfront costs. We only get paid if we win your claim.
Not every poor medical result is caused by malpractice. A healthcare provider is only negligent when he or she failed to perform within a reasonable standard of care. Our legal team can help you determine if malpractice has occurred.
A: Any medical professional or healthcare facility can be held liable for injuries caused by negligence. Examples of healthcare professionals and institutions include:
- Urgent care facilities
- Nursing homes
- EMTs and paramedics
- Naturopathic physicians
A: Serious injuries and death result much too frequently from preventable medical errors. Of the medical errors for which compensation was paid out in 2014, the following outcomes were reported:
- 30% resulted in death;
- 18% caused significant permanent injury;
- 17% caused major permanent injury;
- 13% resulted in quadriplegia, brain damage, or lifelong care;
- 9% caused minor permanent injury; and
- 8% caused major temporary injury.
Q: What will it cost me to hire your firm to represent me in a Washington medical malpractice claim?
A: At Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., our legal work is provided on a contingency fee basis. This means you pay us no fees until we recover compensation for you. We offer an initial case consultation free of charge. Contact us to find out what damages could be pursued in your case.
When a patient dies in the care of a medical professional, it must be determined what caused the fatal injuries and if another doctor, nurse, or surgeon in similar circumstances would have made the same mistakes. Risk management teams at hospitals are allowed to have secret meetings that patients do not know about. Often hospital lawyers and risk managers are involved.
The experienced Seattle medical malpractice attorneys at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. have the knowledge, skills, and resources it takes to prove these cases. We have helped many families receive the justice and compensation they need. Call (888) 228-3860 today.
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