Can I File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Kansas City, MO
When physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals fail to uphold the standard of care, patients get hurt. Many of these injuries have long-term consequences that can alter a person’s life forever – both physically and financially. If you believe you sustained injuries due to the negligent or substandard care of a medical professional, you have a right to pursue compensation.
Medical Malpractice, or “Med Mal,” claims are among the most complex personal injury claims. There are onerous, narrowly tailored, legal statutes and additional procedural hurdles, such as threshold expert opinions, that make these types of claims more difficult, and expensive, to pursue than ordinary negligence claims.
Medical Malpractice Damages
Damages awarded in medical malpractice lawsuits can include medical expenses, pain and suffering, and long-term costs associated with a reduced quality of life and loss of future earnings.
Special damages cover the trackable expenses associated with an injury. For example, medical bills associated with treatment of the injury, loss of wages, etc.
General damages refer to the victim’s cost of suffering. It can be more difficult to determine the value of general damages as they are calculated by the unique circumstances of each case. For example, if an injured party is very young, the general damages might include the value of lost earning capacity – the value of which would vary according to their age, education and experience.
Missouri Medical Malpractice Limits
Here in Missouri, medical malpractice payouts totaled over $631 million from 2009-2018. But these damages weren’t headline-worthy lawsuits with gigantic payouts to a few injured parties – just the opposite, in fact. This total reflects the damages awarded in thousands of individual medical malpractice claims. The large personal injury settlements you read about in the papers are in the news for the same reason that airline disasters are in the news. They are exceedingly rare.
Missouri is one of several states that limits the amount of non-economic damages a plaintiff can recover for pain and suffering. In 2015, Senate Bill 239 was signed into law. It established limits on the amount of non-economic damages recoverable by a plaintiff in a medical malpractice action. For “non-catastrophic” injuries, the cap was initially established at $400,000, while the cap for “catastrophic” injuries was set at $700,000.
Do You Have a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Attorney Dodrill receives inquiries from injured parties who claim they’ve suffered medical malpractice all the time. Unfortunately, however, these claims often fail to meet the standards required to pursue a legal claim. The most common reasons medical malpractice cases are turned down include:
Expiring Statute of Limitations – In Missouri, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is two years from the date of the injury. There are some exceptions to this two-year limit, but if you feel you’ve suffered an injury due to malpractice, it’s important to contact Plaza Injury Law as quickly as possible.
Standard of Care – A medical professional must act with that “degree of skill and learning ordinarily used under the same or similar circumstances by members of their profession.” Hurlock v. Park Lane Medical Center, Inc., 709 SW2d 872, 883 (Mo. App. 1985). Lawyers refer to negligence on the part of a medical professional as a “deviation from the standard of care.” This is a very high hurdle to reach.
Direct Causation – Even if your doctor made errors that violate the standard of care, we must be able to prove that those errors are probably (not just possibly) what caused your injuries. In patients who have complicated health issues and subsequently received negligent treatment, it can be very difficult to separate what injuries were caused by the underlying injury vs. any medical error.
Speculative Damages – Often we see cases where there has been obvious negligence but because the patient was proactive about following up and getting corrective treatment, no actual harm was done. Even though something terrible could have happened if the patient did not take it upon themselves to continue to seek care, the law does not allow you to recover for something bad that might have happened but didn’t.
Expense – In a Missouri medical malpractice claim, the injured party, through counsel, must provide an affidavit of merit to be filed with the court that identifies a qualified expert (or experts) who was consulted on the question of causation. Additionally, Missouri requires that expert testimony be given at trial to corroborate your claim that the care received fell below the accepted medical standard of care. Obtaining relevant medical records and having them reviewed by paid medical experts from across the country is costly. And if a case proceeds to litigation, expert witness costs increase exponentially. These expenses must all come from the damages awarded to the victim(s). For anything less than a permanent, catastrophic injury or death, the damages awarded are unlikely to offset these costs (and any healthcare liens) and still provide enough funds to actually benefit the injured client.
Understanding the Medical Risks – Every medical procedure comes with certain risks and none of them come with guarantees. A bad outcome from a procedure does not necessarily mean that anything was done incorrectly. There is always the risk that surgery will not work or may even make the problem worse and there is always the risk of infection after any invasive procedure. Unless we can prove, with particularity, an actual error that “more likely than not” caused the injury, we cannot bring a successful case. This is usually impossible to do in cases of post-surgical infection. Post-surgical infection claims often fail because the ultimate issue usually becomes one of wound management. Wound management is a question of whether the patient followed the doctor’s discharge instructions when caring for themselves at home.
Contact An Experienced Kansas City Medical Malpractice Lawyer
The consequences of a medical mistake can cause a vast amount of hardship for victims and their families. That is why we dedicate countless hours to reviewing medical records, researching literature, and speaking with medical experts about potential claims. You should not have to suffer in silence. Let Donovan Dodrill be your legal advocate and fight for the compensation you’re entitled to. Contact Plaza Injury Law today for the free case review.