Physicians, nurses, surgeons, and other medical professionals make life-altering decisions every day. We trust these healthcare specialists to make the correct diagnosis, propose treatments, prescribe medication, and make choices that benefit our well-being. However, when these medical experts make an error, the consequences could be severe or even life-threatening.
Medical malpractice litigation is complicated and challenging. However, if you or a loved one was harmed by the carelessness or negligence of a medical professional, you have a right to hold them liable. Our Arkansas medical malpractice attorneys have over twenty years of experience ensuring that surgeons, physicians, and other medical professionals are held to a high standard.
Our knowledgeable Arkansas medical malpractice lawyers have litigated medical malpractice claims against healthcare providers for inadequate and negligent care ranging from misdiagnosis to surgical errors. Our team of attorneys and staff have the resources and experience to handle the most challenging medical malpractice claims. Call our law offices at (479) 316-0438 to schedule a free consultation.
Common Types of Medical Malpractice in Arkansas
When you see your doctor or step into a hospital or another healthcare facility, you should feel a sense of relief. We trust doctors to treat us with professionalism and provide ethical care from the initial consultation through any treatments or procedures prescribed. However, many people are harmed through medical negligence or carelessness. Below are some types of medical malpractice cases our firm handles.
Medical malpractice occurs when your doctor improperly diagnoses your condition through recklessness or inadequate care. A misdiagnosis could result in more prolonged and painful treatment. If your condition is not accurately diagnosed, the lack of treatment could cause more significant harm or even death.
There is no one specific cause for diagnosis errors. Sometimes a doctor does not review a patient’s entire medical history, a radiologist will misinterpret or administer a diagnostic test improperly, or there could be a miscommunication between medical professionals. No matter the underlying cause, doctors and other medical professionals should be held liable for their unjustifiable mistakes.
Medication and pharmaceutical errors occur when medication is prescribed, administered, or dispensed incorrectly. Typically, these mistakes happen when there is a miscommunication between the doctor prescribing the drug and the nurse who administers it. The wrong medicine or an incorrect dosage could have devastating effects, from severe allergic reactions to death. Depending on the circumstances, our Bentonville medical malpractice attorneys could file a claim against the doctor, nurse, or medical facility.
Every surgery has an element of risk. Patients are required to sign a consent form before any surgical procedure. Nonetheless, when a surgical error occurs, you have the right to bring a medical malpractice claim against the offending surgeon.
Surgical errors include cutting a nerve, removing the wrong organ, operating on the wrong patient, or leaving surgical instruments inside the patient after the procedure. Mistakes are not limited to the surgeon. For instance, an anesthesiologist could administer the incorrect dosage of anesthesia resulting in adverse medical consequences.
Expectant mothers place their trust in medical professionals specializing in childbirth, including obstetricians, gynecologists, and nurses. Unfortunately, some deliveries are difficult and result in birth injuries for the newborn. Many birth injuries are avoidable. When a treating physician or another member of the medical team fails to recognize a problem or makes a careless mistake, it could constitute medical malpractice. Birth injuries could occur because of errors made during prenatal care, delivery, and post-delivery care. For example, an expectant mother could be prescribed medication that harms their developing child or an obstetrician could wait until it is too late to order a caesarian section. Birth injuries impact both the child and their family. Our knowledgeable Sebastian County medical practice attorneys are committed to holding doctors and other healthcare providers accountable for the harm they caused.
Medical malpractice occurs for various reasons. In most cases, negligent conduct is an unjustifiable mistake caused by miscommunication, fatigue, carelessness, or other preventable accidents. However, some medical malpractice is the direct result of an intentional decision. For example, a surgeon who does not properly wash before a procedure because they are trying to save time or a nurse that neglects their rounds because their shift is ending should be held liable if it harms a patient. Our Arkansas medical malpractice attorneys want to hold medical professionals accountable for their conscious decisions that cause injury.
Proving Medical Malpractice in Arkansas
Medical malpractice lawsuits are more complex and challenging than most other personal injury lawsuits. When someone ignores red light and hits a stopped car, it is generally not that difficult to prove the driver was negligent. However, when it comes to medicine and medical treatment, a positive outcome is never guaranteed. A doctor could do everything correctly and a patient could still experience a negative result. Likewise, even though a surgeon made an error, the patient was going to succumb to their medical condition.
Therefore, under Arkansas law, a medical malpractice lawsuit typically requires a qualified medical expert witness to testify when the defendant’s error lies outside the jury’s common knowledge. This means that the jury is unable to comprehend the extent of the defendant’s mistake without specialized knowledge or experience. To illustrate this concept, a surgeon taking out the wrong organ would lie within a jury’s scope of experience and common knowledge, whereas misinterpreting a sophisticated diagnostic test result would not.
The medical expert providing testimony should come from the same medical field or specialty as the defendant. The testimony should speak to the medical standard of care that the defendant should have provided given the circumstances, providing an opinion on how the defendant failed to perform up to that standard. For instance, if it was common practice to order a specific test when observing certain symptoms, a failure to order that test could be a violation of the standard of care. Additionally, the expert should describe how the sub-standard care was the proximate cause of the patient’s harm.
The Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits in Arkansas
A statute of limitations is a law that tells a plaintiff or law firm how much time they have to file a lawsuit. These laws exist to protect defendants from having to defend against an allegation years after the fact. They also serve as an incentive for plaintiffs to file their case while vital evidence is still available.
Under Arkansas law, a victim of medical malpractice has two years to file a claim. However, an important question to ask is, “when does the clock start running?” According to Arkansas’ statute of limitations, the case must be file within two years of the date of the cause of the action. Therefore, you have two years from the date of the underlying medical mistake to file your lawsuit.
There are limited exceptions to the two-year deadline. If your lawsuit is based on the discovery of a foreign object in your body, such as a sponge, you have one year from the discovery. However, this is not an absolute exception. To qualify for this exception, the object’s discovery must not have been reasonable within the two years. For example, if you were experiencing severe abdominal pains after a surgical procedure but failed to investigate the cause, this discovery exception might not apply if a surgical instrument is found beyond two years.
If you fail to comply with the statute of limitations, the defendant will petition the court to dismiss your case. In nearly every case, the court will dismiss your lawsuit. By contacting our Arkansas medical malpractice attorneys as soon as you suspect an issue, you could avoid missing the two-year deadline.
Damages Available in an Arkansas Medical Malpractice Case
Damages represent financial compensation for the harm a victim of medical malpractice endured. There are several categories available in an Arkansas medical malpractice lawsuit.
Typically, damages are broken down into three types. The first and most obvious are economic damages. This category includes the cost of the medical procedure, future medical treatment, physical therapy, and lost wages. Basically, economic damages are any out-of-pocket expenses or monetary losses the plaintiff suffered because of the medical malpractice.
Next are general non-economic damages. This category is more subjective and includes psychological harm, loss of enjoyment of life, and the inability to participate in normal activities. For example, a plaintiff is entitled to recover damages if they experience heightened anxiety or are unable to physically play with their children due to the malpractice.
The third category is an extension of the general non-economic damages, except these impact the victim’s family. A common family injury is the loss of consortium. Loss of consortium means that the injury to a spouse negatively impacts a marriage. For example, the loss of sexual relations could cause a marriage to deteriorate. Family injuries are not limited to one’s spouse. Children also experience loss when their parent is a victim of medical malpractice. Our Arkansas medical malpractice lawyers will work closely with you and your family to determine what fair compensation should be for how the defendant’s conduct hurt your family.
There is No Cap on Medical Malpractice Damages In Arkansas
Some states have laws that limit the amount of damages a plaintiff could recover through a medical malpractice lawsuit. These controversial laws negatively impact plaintiffs who establish that they were victims of negligence. In some cases, these unfortunate plaintiffs are unable to recover the full damages they suffered.
Fortunately, no such legislative cap exists under Arkansas law. Plaintiffs in medical malpractice lawsuits are permitted to recover the full extent of the damages that they have suffered because of the defendant’s conduct or inaction.
Comparative Fault and Arkansas Medical Malpractice Damages
Arkansas follows the doctrine of modified comparative fault when calculating damages in medical malpractice or personal injury case. Under this doctrine, the court or jury will assign a percentage of fault to each party involved in a lawsuit. Any damages awarded to a plaintiff will be reduced by the percentage of blame that was apportioned to them. In Arkansas, if a plaintiff is 50% at fault, then they will not be permitted to recover damages from the defendant.
How does this impact medical malpractice cases? Imagine that you have become ill because your doctor prescribed the wrong medication. However, once all the evidence is presented, it is determined that your negative reaction was a combination of the incorrect medication and wine you were drinking when you ingested the medication. The jury determines that the doctor was at fault for prescribing the wrong medicine. However, the jury also finds that your conduct contributed to the harm you suffered. When assigning percentages of fault, the jury determines the doctor was 70% to blame while your actions accounted for the other 30% of the fault. If you were awarded $100,000 in damages, it would be reduced by $30,000 to reflect your contribution to your harm.
In many cases, a negligent defendant will allege that the plaintiff’s behavior significantly contributed to the injury to avoid having to pay the full extent of damages. Our Arkansas medical malpractice attorneys are not only building a negligence case against the defendant, they are also defending you of any wrongdoing.
Our Arkansas Medical Malpractice Attorneys Have the Experience to Handle Your Case
Medical malpractice lawsuits are challenging and complicated. You need a team of experienced Arkansas medical malpractice attorneys who understand the complexities and nuances of medical malpractice litigation. Call our law offices at (479) 316-0438 to discuss your case.