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What to do if your doctor makes a mistake

doctor with head in hands-immediate.jpgWhat happens when something goes wrong during a medical procedure or when a mistake is made regarding a prescription or diagnosis? If the physician you trust makes a mistake that negatively affects your quality of life, what are your legal options for recovery?

While each individual case and situation is different, here are some things you need to know about Arizona law and medical malpractice suits.

What is a medical malpractice claim?

A medical malpractice lawsuit is a non-criminal claim made by a patient - or his or her survivors - against a medical provider who made a mistake or did not perform as expected. If you were injured due to negligence, you must prove that 1) your healthcare provider did not provide you with adequate treatment, and 2) that it resulted in a loss, such as a personal injury, death, a need for further medical treatment or lost income.

If this has happened to you, you may have a valid medical malpractice claim. Two types of damages may be recoverable as a result of this type of lawsuit:

  • Actual damages: These include expenses from additional medical treatment, current and future loss of wages, loss of enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering.
  • Punitive damages: If your improper medical treatment was the result of your provider showing willful behavior or conduct that deliberately ignores a serious risk, you may also receive money in an amount that is designed to punish the wrongdoer.

It is important to act swiftly with personal injury and medical malpractice cases. In general, you have two years to file a claim from the time of your injury or from the time you found out that a mistake was made. But there are some claims that must be brought within 180 days of the injury or death, for example, where a government provider like a University or County hospital was responsible.

An additional requirement in Arizona

In an effort minimize the cost of medical malpractice claims, Arizona implemented an "Affidavit of Merit" law. This requirement creates another hoop for injury victims to jump through, making it more difficult for you to proceed with your claim.

This law requires anyone who sues for medical malpractice to provide expert testimony confirming the malpractice claim. This expert testimony generally comes from a healthcare professional who is not directly connected to the case. You must file this affidavit soon after filing your lawsuit.

Are there limits to what I can recover?

Some states place a limit on the amount of damages awarded in medical malpractice cases. However, Arizona has not placed a cap on financial recoveries. This means that you have the right to pursue the maximum compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering, with just a few exceptions.

If you believe you may have a medical malpractice claim, seek the advice of a personal injury attorney. An experienced attorney from the law firm of Adelman German, PLC, will evaluate your situation and advise you of your options.

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