Medical Malpractice Liability Lawyers in Seattle
Who Is Responsible After a Serious Medical Error in Washington?
Medical malpractice is always particularly upsetting for a victim and his or her family, simply because most people hold medical professionals in a place of very high regard. After all, as patients, we are literally putting our lives in the hands of doctors, nurses, hospitals, nursing homes, pharmacists, emergency medical personnel, and more. We take this leap of blind faith because we believe in our medical system, the rules that govern medical care and medical professionals, and above all, the training and dedication of the medical community.
So when medical malpractice occurs, it not only causes physical harm to the patient, but it also damages the trust and faith that we all have in the entire medical profession. Medical malpractice rises above the level of a simple error. It is when a medical provider performs an action (or doesn’t perform an action) to the standard of care that another reasonable medical provider would in the same situation, causing harm to the patient.
When that happens, who can be held liable?
Washington’s Liability Rules
Washington is a pure comparative negligence state. This means that any tort settlement, including medical malpractice, is reduced in direct proportion to the claimant’s fault in the matter. This fact is critical in car accident claims or injuries on someone’s property, but 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 any mistakes make by the medical staff.
The only incident 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 in a manner of willful or wanton misconduct or commit omissions constituting gross negligence. Good Samaritan Law does, however, exclude employees who provide emergency care as a part of their regular course of duty or employment, like paramedics.
There are any number of medical professionals who can commit medical malpractice. 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.
Joint and several liability rules also apply in Washington. So as long as the claimant has no personal responsibility or 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 party held responsible has the financial means to compensate the victim fairly.
Understanding Your Options
Medical malpractice is traumatizing to not only the victim, but also to the family of the victim. In many cases, the malpractice leads to additional medical complications, even death. Regardless of the outcome, dealing with malpractice is a very emotional time for everyone involved.
Having well-qualified legal guidance during this trying time is critical, as the statute of limitations on medical malpractice in Washington State is three years from the date of the act. Our team of legal professionals at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., understand the stress and emotion surrounding a malpractice incident. We will focus on your immediate legal needs and explain your rights under Washington law and detail your options for pursuing medical malpractice litigation. And there is absolutely no charge to you for this information. In addition, we can begin working on your behalf immediately and with no payment upfront, as Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., works on a contingency basis. This means that you owe nothing until our team secures a settlement for you.
Sadly, no one can turn back time to correct the damage caused by medical malpractice, but the Seattle medical malpractice attorneys at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., will do everything in our power to make sure that you or your family member is fairly and fully compensated for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Call (425) 228-3860 and let Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., handle your legal matters so that you can focus on healing and moving forward with your life.