Since you’re here, we assume that you’re considering contacting a North Carolina medical malpractice lawyer about a potential claim. If that’s true, there are a few things you should know about our firm:
- We’ve secured over $25 Million for our clients. While we can’t guarantee similar results, we are committed to getting you the compensation you deserve.
- We offer free, no obligation consultations. If you think you have a malpractice claim, you have nothing to lose by speaking to us about your case.
- Time is of the essence. In North Carolina, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice is 3 years.
Let’s talk about your case Not ready to talk to one of our attorneys? No problem. We invite you to keep reading to gain a better understanding of what it means to have a medical malpractice claim in North Carolina.
Medical Malpractice Lawyers Serving Injured Patients in North Carolina
Medical malpractice is a type of personal injury law that allows injured plaintiffs to hold healthcare providers responsible for harms that result from medical errors or mistakes, or intentionally harmful conduct.
When a healthcare provider makes a mistake or fails to live up to the standards of care set by the American Medical Association and by other similar healthcare providers in the same field and geographic area, that healthcare provider may be held responsible in a medical malpractice claim. Medical malpractice is also known as medical negligence, since these claims often result from a healthcare provider’s negligence.
The dedicated medical malpractice lawyers in NC at Dawson & Albritton, P.A. can speak with you today about your options for filing a claim for compensation.
Elements of a North Carolina Medical Malpractice Claim
When an injured patient files a medical malpractice claim, she or he will need to be able to prove specific elements in order to be eligible to receive compensation. Generally speaking, a medical malpractice claim has required elements that include the following:
- First, the healthcare provider owed a duty of care to the patient, which includes an obligation to provide careful medical care;
- Second, the healthcare provider breached the duty of care when she or he did not live up to the obligation to provide careful medical care (which may have been the result of a mistake);
- Third, the patient suffered injuries; and
- Fourth, the patient’s injuries were proximately caused by the healthcare provider’s breach of the duty of care.
Understanding The Medical Standard of Care in North Carolina
As mentioned above, a medical malpractice claim involves proving that the healthcare professional in question breached the standard of care owed to a patient. It is important to note that this “standard of care” is not the traditional standard of care that one person normally owes to another; instead, it is the medical standard of care. When the medical standard of care is breached, malpractice, not just mere negligence, is committed.
The medical standard of care refers to the level of care that a medical provider is held to based on their specialty, training, and experience, as well as the specific patient issue they are facing.
North Carolina Code Section 90-21.12 Standard of Health Care explains that a medical professional can only be held liable for malpractice if it is found that the standard of care provided was “not in accordance with the standards of practice among members of the same health care profession with similar training and experience situated in the same or similar communities under the same or similar circumstances.”
In other words, a heart surgeon will be held to the same standard of care as another heart surgeon faced with a patient suffering from a similar issues; a brain surgeon will be held to the same standard of care as another brain surgeon treating a patient with a similar condition; an OB/GYN will be held to the same standard of care as another OB/GYN treating a patient suffering from the same health problem, etc.
Experts Required in Medical Malpractice Claims
Another difference between medical malpractice cases and standard injury claims is that in medical malpractice cases, the plaintiff must consult with at least one expert witness who will review the injured person’s medical records and offer expert opinion that there is a cause of action for a medical malpractice claim based on evidence that a breach of the medical standard of care did indeed occur.
After the commencement of the action, the attorneys for the medical providers will serve written interrogatories for the expert to answer and certify he/she is qualified and willing to testify that the medical provider violated the standards of practice. The expert who provides this information must themselves be a licensed healthcare provider in the state and specialize in a similar specialty as the defendant.
Our lawyers recommend working with more than one expert to add clout to your claim, and not relying on expert testimony alone. There are multiple types of evidence that may be valuable to your case.
As a note, another interesting evidentiary requirement in North Carolina malpractice cases that’s worth considering is the burden of proof. While the burden of proof in most malpractice cases is the same as it is in all other negligence cases (by a preponderance of the evidence), in emergency room malpractice cases, the burden of proof is greater – clear and convincing evidence. As such, the evidence that you gather to support your case, regardless of whether you have a standard medical malpractice claim or an emergency room malpractice case, can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case.
Common Forms of Medical Malpractice in NC
Medical malpractice in NC can take many different forms, and different healthcare providers may be responsible for medical mistakes. In numerous cases, injured patients can file a claim against more than one liable party. For example, a patient may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against a hospital and a surgeon, or a patient may be able to sue a doctor, a nurse, a laboratory, and a pharmacist. The defendant in a medical malpractice claim depends upon the specific type of injury. Common forms of medical malpractice in North Carolina include but are not limited to:
- Delayed diagnosis, or failure to delay an illness in a timely manner;
- Misdiagnosis, or incorrectly diagnosing a patient’s illness or injury;
- Doctor writing the wrong prescription (wrong drug);
- Doctor writing a prescription for the wrong dosage of a medication;
- Pharmacist filling the wrong prescription (wrong drug);
- Pharmacist filling the prescription at the incorrect dosage;
- Doctor failing to adequately take into account a patient’s health history before performing a procedure or prescribing a particular medication;
- Surgeon accidentally leaving a foreign object, like a sponge or a towel, inside a patient during surgery;
- Surgeon performing surgery on the wrong body part (wrong-site surgery);
- Surgeon performing surgery on the wrong patient;
- Anesthesiologist providing too much anesthesia to a patient;
- Anesthesiologist using defective medical equipment;
- Birth-related injuries;
- Nurse providing improper care;
- Hospital employing a healthcare provider with a known history of substandard care;
- Laboratory providing incorrect test results; and/or
- Dental errors, including unnecessary dental procedures or causing nerve damage during routine dental care.
Statute of Limitations for Bringing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Most medical malpractice claims must be filed within three years from the date of the patient’s injury (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1-15). However, there are some types of medical errors that are not discovered until months or even years after the initial harm occurred. For instance, a delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis may not present itself as a serious harm until a year later when the patient becomes seriously ill. In cases where the patient could not have discovered the injury immediately, she may have two years from the date of discovering the injury to file a claim. Regardless, the claim must be brought within four years from the date of the initial negligent act.
In medical malpractice claims where an object was accidentally left inside a patient’s body during surgery—such as a sponge or a towel—the patient must file a claim within one year from the date of discovering the injury but may have up to ten years from the date of the initial harm to file a lawsuit.
How Can a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Help?
We can help you to file a medical malpractice lawsuit today. In some cases, we are able to obtain a reasonable settlement for injured plaintiffs. If the other side will not settle, we are ready to take your case to trial. We will fight for your right to compensation. Our firm has a history of winning favorable medical malpractice settlements for our clients, including but not limited to:
- $2.24 million settlement for failure to diagnose a spinal epidural abscess that resulted in a patient’s paralysis;
- $770,869 settlement for a patient who had to undergo a permanent tracheostomy due to a negligent intubation;
- $567,500 settlement for failure to conduct screening tests for prostate cancer in a patient;
- $335,000 settlement for a bladder injury that resulted from a robotic hysterectomy;
- $265,000 settlement for a patient whose intestine was pierced while she underwent a procedure to remove ovarian cysts;
- $250,000 settlement for failure to diagnose lung cancer;
- $225,000 settlement for a pregnant patient’s death due to pre-eclampsia and high blood pressure; and
- $175,000 settlement for a dehydration case involving an infant who suffered fatal injuries from dehydration after visiting a pediatrician’s office.
Get in Touch with a North Carolina Medical Malpractice Attorney
Patients should not have to pay the price for a healthcare provider’s negligence. An aggressive NC medical malpractice attorney can assist with your claim. Contact Dawson & Albritton, P.A. to learn more about the services we provide to injured patients in North Carolina.