Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Washington
Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Washington
If a doctor or other medical professional injured you or a loved one, you might be entitled to compensation from that party. Medical malpractice claims are complex and require solid evidence. In many cases, you will be fighting against a well-respected doctor/hospital and its experienced insurer and legal team.
A medical malpractice lawyer in Washington can handle your claim for you, allowing you to focus on the most important thing: recovering.
What are the most common types of medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional makes a mistake or takes an action (that another medical professional with similar training in the same situation would not have taken) that causes a patient harm. Some of the most common situations that lead to medical malpractice claims are:
- Medication errors: prescribing the wrong medication or wrong dosage, giving medication to the wrong patient, failure to check for allergies or medications/foods that might interact with each other
- Diagnosis errors: failure to diagnose, misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis
- Surgical errors: leaving a surgical tool inside a patient, wrong site or wrong patient surgery
- Pregnancy and labor: failure to diagnose pregnancy-related conditions, injuring the baby during the birth
How long do I have to bring a medical malpractice action in Washington?
Per R.C.W. § 4.16.350, injured parties must bring an action for medical malpractice within three years, unless:
- The patient did not discover the malpractice until later: must file within one year of when the patient discovered or reasonably the malpractice (You cannot file a claim if more than eight years has passed, regardless of when you discover the malpractice)
- There was fraud, intentional concealment, or a foreign body with no therapeutic or diagnostic purpose (e.g., a surgical sponge left in the body): must file within one year of actual knowledge of malpractice
For example, Martha was injured during surgery on May 1, 2015. In most cases, she would have three years to file a claim. However, in this case, she does not discover the harm until July 1, 2020. She will have until June 30, 2021 to bring an action.
What must I prove to win a Washington medical malpractice claim?
You must prove one of the following:
- The injury resulted from the health care provider’s failure to provide the accepted standard of care; OR
- The healthcare provider promised the injury would not occur; OR
- The patient did not consent to the procedure that caused the injury.
What is “standard of care” in Washington?
Per R.C.W. § 7.70.040, the “standard of care” for a health care provider is “that degree of care, skill, and learning expected of a reasonably prudent health care provider at that time in the profession or class to which he or she belongs, in the state of Washington, acting in the same or similar circumstances.”
Essentially, it is what another professional with similar training in the same field would have done in the same situation.
How are medical malpractice claims different from other personal injury claims in Washington?
In Washington, medical malpractice claims must go through mandatory mediation before an injured party can file a case with the courts. There are some exceptions to this rule, such as mandatory arbitration or cases in which the parties have agreed to arbitrate the dispute. The rules for mandatory mediation or arbitration are complex and quite different from the standard way of handling cases in court.
Does my case require an expert witness?
Maybe. In 2006, the state passed a law that required all medical malpractice cases to have a certificate of merit (i.e., sworn statement from an expert witness); however, the state supreme court ruled it unconstitutional. There is also no specific state statute requiring an expert witness for each case. A lawyer can help you determine whether your case requires expert witness testimony.
What damages are available in a medical malpractice case in Washington?
If you are successful in a medical malpractice case, you may be able to recover:
- Economic losses: medical bills, lost wages, any resulting disability, and loss of earning potential
- Noneconomic losses: disfigurement, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, loss of care and companionship, etc.
You should not attempt a medical malpractice claim without a Washington medical malpractice lawyer at your side. The other side will have a team of lawyers, fighting hard to protect the health care professional. Medical malpractice is a highly technical and complex area of litigation. Expert witnesses and stacks of medical records will likely be involved. One procedural slip could jeopardize your entire case.
Schedule a free consultation with a Washington medical malpractice attorney today: 206-388-2211.