When seeking medical attention, you expect to take steps toward better health. Unfortunately, hospital mistakes cause 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 mistakes, making medical errors the third leading cause of death in the country.
Can you sue a hospital? The short answer is yes. However, there is much more to suing a hospital than simply filing a claim and waiting to collect just compensation. Suing a hospital successfully requires in-depth knowledge of the law and the ability to fight effectively for the compensation you deserve. In this article, we discuss what patients and families in California need to know about (i) when you can sue a hospital, and (ii) what it takes to win just compensation.
When Can You Sue a Hospital in California?
Patients and families can sue California hospitals under a wide range of circumstances. Unfortunately, negligence in the hospital setting is commonplace, and everyday patients suffer complications and other consequences that could – and should – have been avoided.
Under California law, patients and families can sue hospitals for the negligent acts of their physicians, physician assistants, pharmacists, nurses, EMTs, and other 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 (or your loved one’s) doctor failed to provide a timely and accurate diagnosis, you may have grounds to sue.
- Triage Errors (Including Refusal to Treat Based on Inability to Pay) – Triage errors in hospital emergency rooms (ERs) 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.
- Treatment Errors – Treatment errors can range from improperly setting a broken bone to making mistakes during surgery. While some 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.
- Recordkeeping Errors – Recordkeeping errors in hospitals can have various negative consequences. These negative consequences can range from failure to consider a patient’s previously-identified risk factors to administering treatment to the wrong patient.
These are just examples. Medical malpractice and other forms of negligence in the hospital setting can manifest in many different ways, and no two cases are exactly alike. If you think you may have a claim against a hospital in California, your next step is to speak with a lawyer who can assess your legal rights.
What Does it Take to Win a Lawsuit Against a Hospital?
In addition to knowing if you can sue, it is also important to know what it takes to win. Even if you have grounds to sue a hospital, if you don’t have adequate evidence—or if you have waited too long to take legal action—you won’t be able to file a successful claim.
So, what does it take to win a lawsuit against a hospital?
- Medical Records – Your (or your loved one’s) 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 an 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 costs (both financial and non-financial) of the hospital’s mistake.
- 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 claim.
- 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.
If you believe you may have grounds to sue a hospital for a medical mistake, you need an experienced personal injury attorney on your side that you can trust. If so, you can contact us 24/7 to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation.
To speak with a lawyer in Bakersfield, California about your legal rights in confidence, contact The Law Offices of Mickey Fine today online or at (661) 333-3333 for a free initial consultation.