Medical Malpractice & Negligence Lawsuits
Most of us do not enjoy trips to the hospital, emergency room, or doctor’s office and only go because of necessity. When we do need medical care, however, we expect to receive an acceptable level of treatment from doctors, nurses, hospitals, and other health care providers. Unfortunately, something might go wrong during our medical treatment, and we leave sicker than we were when we came sought care. When you receive substandard care, the medical professionals attending to you should be held accountable for their actions.
The medical profession serves an important role in our society, and the failure to provide adequate healthcare to a patient—and, instead, cause serious injuries—should receive the attention it deserves.
At Jones & Hill, we have been representing victims of medical malpractice and negligence for more than 35 years. From our offices in Lake Charles, Alexandria, Oakdale and Oberlin, we serve clients throughout the state, offering personalized legal representation and compassionate, client-focused support. These are highly complex cases, but our Louisiana medical malpractice attorneys have the experience, resources, and in-depth legal knowledge to effectively advocate for you.
Continue reading to learn more about filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Louisiana or contact Jones & Hill today at (318) 707-0515 to request a free initial consultation.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
It is important to distinguish between treatment that fails to produce an ideal result in the patient and preventable medical errors. Most medical professionals are committed to helping their patients and doing everything possible to properly treat their conditions so that they can heal. However, some fail to take reasonable, appropriate measures to diagnose and treat patients, leading to mistakes and poor outcomes that should never happen. This is medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice refers to health care providers’ failure to uphold an acceptable standard of care. The “acceptable standard of care” is similar to the “reasonable person standard” in that the court will evaluate whether the health care professional provided the same level of treatment that another reasonable medical professional would have in the same or similar circumstances. When this standard is not met, the health care provider is said to have acted negligently or with willful/wanton disregard for the safety of his or her patients. In such circumstances, patients may have grounds for a case.
To bring a medical malpractice lawsuit, you must prove all of the following elements:
- There was a provider-patient relationship between you and the defendant
- The medical professional who treated you provided you with substandard care
- You were injured (physically, financially, and/or mentally)
- You suffered measurable damages (economic and/or non-economic)
- The medical professional’s conduct was the direct or proximate cause of your injuries
Our Louisiana medical malpractice attorneys work with teams of experts, including respected medical professionals, when investigating and building our clients’ claims. We work to identify acts of misconduct and malpractice and defend our clients’ rights, both in settlement negotiations and at trial.
Examples of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice and negligence can take many forms.
Some common examples include:
- Delayed diagnosis
- Failure to diagnose
- Failure to treat
- Delayed treatment
- Anesthesia errors
- Medication mistakes
- Pharmaceutical errors
- Birth injuries
- Surgical mistakes
- Emergency room errors
- Premature discharge
- Poor follow-up/post-operative care
- Failing to review a patient’s history
- Laboratory errors
- Misreading a patient’s lab results
- Intentional misconduct
These and other forms of medical malpractice and negligence can have severe implications for victims, leading to devastating injuries, worsened medical conditions, and, in the most serious cases, death.
What Damages Can Be Recovered in Louisiana Medical Malpractice Cases?
The Medical Malpractice Act of 1975 capped the amount of damages a victim may receive after an injury caused by medical staff in Louisiana at $500,000. Ostensibly, this cap was enacted to combat rising insurance premiums. The Louisiana Supreme Court recently reviewed the constitutionality of the cap and found that the cap was valid and did not offend the Louisiana Constitution.
The Louisiana Legislature has sought to increase the cap in recent years to $750,000 and make it exclusive of economic losses (such as loss of earnings), but no bills have made it past committee. As such, as of 2021, any damages claimed as medical malpractice cannot exceed $500,000. However, you are still entitled to bring a claim for damages after a medical professional makes an error in your treatment.
A claim for damages after medical malpractice may include:
- Ongoing medical treatment
- Lost wages
- Future earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
For many of us, going to a medical facility is difficult enough, but being forced to return to it for ongoing treatment due to someone else’s error could be incredibly difficult. Some medical malpractice errors may also lead to the death of our loved one. The medical professional should be held accountable for their actions in their negligent behavior; a successful medical malpractice lawsuit can also help ensure no one else is injured by similar behavior in the future.
How Long Do You Have to File a Medical Malpractice Claim in Louisiana?
Like other types of personal injury claims, cases involving medical malpractice in Louisiana are subject to a statute of limitations, or filing deadline. In nearly all cases, you only have one year from the date of the injury-causing act to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, because some injuries may not be discovered right away, you could have one year from the date on which the injury was discovered or reasonably could have been discovered to take legal action.
Additionally, in Louisiana, a medical malpractice claim cannot be filed if more than three years have passed since the date of the injury-causing act. According to this deadline, known as the statute of repose, you cannot bring a claim if more than three years have gone by since you were the victim of medical malpractice or neglect, regardless of the severity of your injuries or whether you had reasonable opportunity to discover the injury.
How to File a Medical Malpractice Claim
There are several important procedures involved in filing a medical malpractice claim in Louisiana. Our attorneys at Jones & Hill can assist you in understanding and navigating this process.
Below, we have provided a brief overview of how to file a medical malpractice claim:
- First, before filing a claim, you must submit a complaint to the appropriate medical review panel (unless your case falls under one of the few exceptions).
- Next, you must wait for a decision from the medical review panel regarding the validity of your claim. The panel may also inform you that the defendant is not eligible for review or dismiss your claim based on a failure to select panelists within one year.
- Once the panel has provided its opinion on your claim or dismissed it for one of the reasons listed above, you may file your medical malpractice lawsuit.
- During your lawsuit, the panelists may be called as witnesses and may testify at trial. Additionally, the initial report from the panel could be used as evidence.
It is critical that you work with a qualified medical malpractice attorney, as these cases are extremely complicated. At Jones & Hill, our Louisiana medical malpractice lawyers are prepared to help you every step of the way, handling all the legal details while you focus on your recovery.