Boston is home to some of the best hospitals and medical professionals in the world. When people go to a doctor, they expect to receive the proper diagnosis and treatment for their ailment. While its true that advances in modern medicine have contributed to human longevity by adding an average of 30 years to the human life span since 1900, unfortunately, there can also be mistakes. According to the Journal of Patient Safety, an estimated 400,000 people die premature deaths due to medical malpractice each year. Using this estimate, medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease and cancer. Even if a death does not occur, a serious medical mistake or misdiagnosis can have long lasting effects, and patients injured as a result of these mistakes deserve to be compensated for their losses.
Medical malpractice can occur in a variety of ways and is not limited to in-hospital care but can occur in any environment where you receive medical treatment. Some examples of medical malpractice are:
Source: National Practitioner Data Bank
Under Massachusetts state laws, a plaintiff cannot recover more than $500,000 for non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, loss of companionship, embarrassment, and other general damages not related to economic damages, such as medical costs. However, if it is shown that there was substantial impairment or permanent loss of a bodily function and that the damage cap deprives the plaintiff of just compensation, then it may be exceeded. Furthermore, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice actions in Massachusetts is three years from the date that the injury occurred.
Most states have laws which require the plaintiff’s attorney to submit proof of the defendants negligence at the beginning of a medical malpractice case. Massachusetts General Law chapter 231, section 60B states that after a lawsuit is filed, the plaintiff’s lawyer must make an Offer of Proof to a three person tribunal, consisting of a superior court judge, physician from the same field of practice as the defendant, and an attorney authorized to practice in the commonwealth. Within 15 days of the defendant’s answer to the complaint being filed, this tribunal decides whether or not the case has any merit going forward. During this time period, the tribunal may subpoena records or summon witnesses to acquire more evidence. If the tribunal rules against the plaintiff, they can still decide to proceed with the lawsuit, but must file a $6,000 bond, payable to the defendant if they do not prevail in the final judgement.
If you think you have a medical malpractice claim, it is a prudent to get a copy of your medical records as soon as possible. Medical records are important pieces of evidence in malpractice claims. Even if you have all of your records in order, due to the complexity of modern medicine, malpractice claims require complex litigation because of the various issues that may be involved. Some key points about medical records in Massachusetts include:
Given the nature of malpractice litigation, it is important to choose a knowledgeable and trustworthy firm to handle your medical malpractice claim. At Sweeney Merrigan Law, our Boston medical malpractice lawyers will investigate your claim immediately and fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us for a free consultation today and see how we can restore your peace of mind.