Can You Sue a Hospital?
When you are admitted to a hospital or medical center, you trust that the doctors and hospital employees will provide you with the medical care you need to recover and improve your health. Unfortunately, hospital mistakes cause serious injury and harm to thousands of patients every year. Johns Hopkins estimates that more than 250,000 people die every year in the United States because of medical negligence, making medical errors the third leading cause of death in the country.
When you or a loved one has been harmed by hospital malpractice or negligence, you may wonder if you can sue the hospital and recover damages. Suing a hospital successfully requires in-depth knowledge of medical malpractice law and the ability to hold the hospital responsible for the harm it caused you. In the following guide, we discuss what patients and families in California need to know about when you can sue a hospital, and what it takes to win a hospital negligence claim.
What are Some Examples of Hospital Malpractice?
Reasons to Sue a Hospital in California
Patients and families can sue California hospitals for medical malpractice for a wide range of reasons. Unfortunately, negligence in a hospital setting is commonplace, and patients suffer complications and other consequences that could – and should – have been avoided.
Under California law, a hospital is responsible for the negligent acts of their physicians, physician assistants, pharmacists, nurses, EMTs, and other hospital staff. Some of the most common types of claims against hospitals include:
- Diagnostic Errors – Misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, and failure to diagnose are among the most common forms of medical malpractice in the hospital setting. If your doctor failed to provide a timely and accurate diagnosis, you may have grounds to sue the doctor.
- Triage Errors (Including Refusal to Treat Based on Inability to Pay) – Triage errors in a hospital’s emergency room (ER) are also extremely common. This includes errors such as failing to prioritize patients with immediate medical needs and refusing to treat patients based on inability (or perceived inability) to pay.
- Medical Treatment Errors – Treatment errors can range from improperly setting a broken bone to failing to properly monitor patients in their hospital rooms. While some wrong medical treatment errors can be remedied, others can have long-term, permanent, or fatal consequences.
- Medication Errors – Medication errors can have tragic consequences as well. Underdose, overdose, administering the wrong medication, and failure to consider contraindications are all common mistakes in hospitals by nurses, another doctor, or another medical professional.
- Record-keeping Errors – Record-keeping errors in hospitals can have various negative consequences. These negative consequences can range from failure to consider a patient’s previously-identified risks such as allergies to administering treatment to the wrong patient.
- Surgical Errors – From leaving surgical instruments inside a patient’s body to operating on the wrong body part, surgical errors can have catastrophic consequences for patients and their families.
These are some of the most common reasons to sue a hospital for medical negligence. Medical malpractice and other forms of negligence in a hospital can manifest harm to a patient in different ways, and no two medical accident cases are exactly alike. If you believe you have a medical malpractice case against a hospital in California because a hospital or medical center made a mistake, your next step is to speak with a medical malpractice lawyer.
What Does it Take to Win a Lawsuit Against a Hospital?
To win a lawsuit against a hospital for negligence or medical malpractice, the plaintiff (the one bringing the lawsuit) must prove that the hospital breached its duty to provide a reasonable standard of care to the patient. Medical malpractice lawsuits against hospitals are won or lost on proving fault and causation. In other words, the plaintiff must demonstrate not only that the hospital failed to provide an appropriate standard of care, but also that this failure caused the patient’s injuries or damages.
The following are items required to sue a hospital for negligence:
- Medical Records – Your medical records will be key evidence in support of your claim. If you don’t have any necessary records, your lawyer can obtain them from the hospital on your behalf.
- Expert Opinion – Your lawyer will also need to consult with a medical expert who can assess whether the hospital breached its duty of care. If you move forward with pursuing a claim, this expert may need to prepare a report and provide testimony as well.
- Evidence of Loss – In addition to proving that the hospital is liable for breaching its duty of care, you also need to prove how much the hospital is liable to pay. This involves calculating the current and future medical expenses, and past and future emotional distress and pain and suffering.
- Time to File – Medical malpractice claims are subject to a strict statute of limitations under California law. In most cases, patients have three years from the date of the malpractice or one year from the date they discover the malpractice (whichever comes first) to file a lawsuit.
- Skilled Legal Representation – Successfully suing a hospital in California requires experienced legal representation. If you think you may have a medical malpractice claim against a hospital, you should talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.
Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer in Bakersfield Today
When you’re facing injuries due to a medical mistake at a hospital, it’s essential to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you understand your legal options. At The Law Offices of Mickey Fine in Bakersfield, California, we have skilled lawyers in our law firm who can guide you through the legal process and advocate for your rights.
To schedule a free initial consultation with our legal team, contact us today online or call us at (661) 333-3333. We’re here to help you get the compensation you deserve.