Medical Malpractice in Spokane, WA
Medical malpractice arises when a qualified Spokane, Washington doctor or medical facility harms a patient. There are different medical malpractice laws per state, so you should carefully review your state’s laws to determine whether you have a case. These laws can influence the statute of limitations for filing a medical negligence claim. Additionally, they can dictate whether you have to notify the doctor or medical facility beforehand.
What Evidence Do I Need for Spokane, Washington 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 Spokane, WA 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.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Washington State does not require Spokane plaintiffs to file affidavits or certificates of merit with their medical malpractice claims. This is because the Washington State Supreme Court struck down this requirement in the 2009 Putman v. Wenatchee Valley Medical Center. In addition, Washington does not have any statutory requirements regarding expert qualifications in medical malpractice cases.
You may wonder if you can also sue the Spokane 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 Spokane, Washington 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 Spokane, WA
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
According to the American Medical Association, Washington State does not limit economic or non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. This means a Spokane plaintiff can receive whatever award the jury deems reasonable. However, Washington does not permit punitive damages in these cases.
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.
Washington State law dictates the deadlines for commencing a medical malpractice case in Spokane. Specifically, a Spokane plaintiff must file suit within three years of the injurious act or within one year of the discovery of the injury, whichever is later. However, the law also allows up to eight years to file suit, regardless of when the discovery occurs.
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.
Spokane patients can file complaints regarding Washington physicians and physician assistants with the Washington Medical Commission (WMC). WMC will investigate violations of the Uniform Disciplinary Act, including repeated acts of negligence and boundary violations. Spokane patients can file a complaint online or by mail with the Olympia office. Keep in mind, there is no statutory time limit to file a complaint with the WMC.
Do I Need to Hire an Attorney?
Medical malpractice claims in Spokane, Washington 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 Spokane 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 Spokane, Washington
Since your case is incredibly important to you, it makes sense to seek legal help. You should at minimum consult with a qualified Spokane attorney who is familiar with such cases. We can even help you connect with an attorney across Washington state lines.
Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!