Medical Malpractice in Fairbanks, AK
Going to the doctor can be stressful for many Fairbanks residents. The antiseptic smell and sterile environment can be quite off-putting, a total contrast to the fresh open air. But, you need to put yourself in the hands of trained professionals when you’re sick or hurt. The last thing you want is to receive further injury due to negligence or malpractice. If you have experienced a medical injury, you may want your next step to be contacting an experienced Fairbanks attorney.
What Evidence Do I Need for Fairbanks, Alaska Medical Malpractice Claims?
The burden of proof falls on the injured party in filing a medical malpractice claim. To prove your case, there are several conditions you must establish. An experienced Fairbanks, AK medical malpractice lawyer can guide you through this entire process.
While there can be some differences in details based on the state in which you file your claim, there are some standard benchmarks to try and hit.
- There was a working relationship between the doctor and the patient.
- There was negligence on behalf of the doctor – You must prove the doctor was negligent in his or her diagnosis. You cannot sue a doctor for medical malpractice simply because you did not like their treatment or diagnosis.
- There needs to be cause and effect – Cases usually involve long-term injuries. You must prove the injuries referenced in the claim are a direct result of the doctor’s care and not because of any pre-existing condition.
- The injury represented in the claim led to further injury – You cannot sue for malpractice unless you suffer a direct injury. There are multiple types of pain that a patient can sue for currently.
The Alaska State Legislature clearly defines the terms on which a malpractice suit can be brought against a medical professional. You must prove that the medical professional in question owed you a duty of care, and that there was a breach of that duty. You must also prove that your injury was a direct result of that breach of care, and show the damages that the injury has caused.
You may wonder if you can also sue the Fairbanks hospital or facility where the doctor works. In most situations, you cannot sue a hospital for the malpractice of a doctor. Most doctors are independent contractors, which absolves hospitals from liability. Nurses and other hospital staff are direct employees, so if the malpractice occurs through one of them, then there are grounds to sue the facility. So, unless the doctor is directly employed by the Fairbanks, Alaska hospital or facility, they are not liable.
The Varying Types of Medical Malpractice
As long as you meet the conditions to file, you have grounds to file a claim, but you will need to decide in which category your claim falls. The most common categories include the following:
- Wrongful treatment – A doctor treats you poorly and in a way that no other credible medical professional would.
- Failure to diagnose correct illness – The doctor misdiagnosed your malady and caused an injury.
- Failure to disclose risks to patients – The doctor fails to inform you of the medical risks. Or, they did not carry out their duty of informed consent. As a result, their inaction prevented you from making an informed decision about the medical procedure or treatment.
There are additional categories or reasons for filing a lawsuit, such as the following doctor errors:
- Misreading or ignoring test results from the lab
- Making surgical errors
- Not following up properly or not offering adequate post-care
- Performing unnecessary procedures or surgeries
Damages Available in Fairbanks, AK
There are three types of damages a court will award for medical malpractice.
- General damages – Compensation for physical or mental suffering due to the negligent actions of the doctor
- Punitive Damages – Damages awarded as punishment for the medical professional or facility at fault
- Special Damages – Damages for expenses from medical bills and lost wages
Damage Caps in Fairbanks have been set between $250,000 and $400,000 for some time. However, a recent ruling by the Alaska Courts has extended those caps in certain instances, saying that part of the payment cannot be deducted for medical treatment.
Statute of Limitations
Medical malpractice claims carry a strict statute of limitations, which vary depending on the state. If you do not file the claim within the statute of limitations, the court will dismiss the case with prejudice regardless of the facts.
Alaska Statute places a 2 year statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims in Fairbanks. If you have been injured, you must file within 2 years of the date of the injury.
Medical Malpractice Review Panels
In some states, you must first submit your claim to a review panel of medical experts. The panel hears the evidence and expert testimony to decide whether malpractice occurred. Keep in mind, their decision does not equate to a court’s decision, but the panel is often a necessary step in building toward a lawsuit. Furthermore, it can lend significant credibility to a claim. The findings of the review panel will make their way to court, and the court often references them to influence its ruling.
The Alaska State Medical Board handles all complaints and hearings in Fairbanks regarding medical malpractice. Your complaint must first be submitted in writing, either through mail to the Juneau office, or by email. If the complaint is valid, the board will decide to investigate. If an investigation reveals wrongdoing, the board will decide actionable punishment, which can range from monetary settlements, retraining, suspension of license, and even license revocation if the offense is serious enough.
Do I Need to Hire an Attorney?
Medical malpractice claims in Fairbanks, Alaska can be complex and difficult to prove. It can be an overwhelming task, especially if you are still suffering as a result of the doctor’s actions. We recommend consulting with a personal injury attorney or an attorney in Fairbanks that has a focus on medical malpractice.
A medical malpractice attorney can help you in many ways to put together your case. Working with an attorney means he or she will often do the following:
- Build your case
- Collect important evidence
- Find expert witnesses to testify on your behalf
- Help you prepare for the malpractice review panel
- Take your claim to court
Work with an Experienced Local Lawyer in Fairbanks, Alaska
Since your case is incredibly important to you, it makes sense to seek legal help. You should at minimum consult with a qualified Fairbanks attorney who is familiar with such cases. We can even help you connect with an attorney across Alaska state lines.