Updated February 22, 2023

What Does Medical Malpractice Mean?

Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed by a health care provider, including a doctor, nurse, chiropractor, and dentist, to name a few. To be considered malpractice, this harm must result from a breach of the standard of care.

Just because a patient suffered from typical risks and side effects doesn’t mean it is a medical malpractice case; however, if the patient was not informed of the risks, there could potentially be a case.

If the negligence of a medical professional injured you, seek legal advice. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you determine whether you have a solid medical malpractice case, calculate your damages, and negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf.

What is Medical Malpractice? Making Medical Malpractice Claims

Have you suffered at the hands of a medical professional and are now wondering, “do I have a medical malpractice case?” Let’s look at what you would need for a medical negligence claim.

Each state in the United States has varying medical negligence laws. However, there are overarching requirements one must have to pursue a lawsuit for medical malpractice. These medical malpractice requirements include:

  1. There was a doctor-patient relationship (or medical professional-patient relationship).
  2. The medical professional violated the standard of care  
  3. The breath of the standard of care “more likely than not” caused an injury
  4. The injury caused the patient to suffer harm

According to Indiana law, you must prove these to have a case. But what do each of these mean? Let’s go into more detail about these requirements to see if your situation qualifies for a  lawsuit for medical malpractice. 

Doctor-Patient Relationship 

There must be proof of a doctor-patient or medical professional relationship between the caregiver and you, the patient. You must have sought professional help and agreed to hire a medical professional. The medical professional must also have had to agree to provide professional care. Records and billing can prove this.

Violation of Standard of Care

The medical standard of care is the standard that a patient should be treated by a competent medical professional able to provide reasonable medical care. The overall expectation is that standard of care is always performed, so a patient can trust that their medical provider is caring for them well. The standard of care is defined as what a health care professional with the same or similar training and experience would have provided in the same or similar situation, 

Medical malpractice occurs when this standard of care has not been met, as in the doctor, nurse, etc., acted negligently and did not follow the standard of care. 

To prove this, you need to show that the medical professional acted negligently. All this is to say that you must prove that a similar medical professional would have taken a different course of action and the outcome likely would be different. 

Being unsatisfied with treatment is not the basis for a medical malpractice claim. Instead, the doctor or other professional must have acted with negligence which then caused you harm. 

Breach of Standard of Care Results in Injury

A doctor may have violated the standard of care, but that is only the first step in pursuing a lawsuit. Their breach of the standard of care must have resulted in an injury related to that evidence. This is typically the more challenging aspect of medical malpractice since a person sees a medical professional for a health-related reason. 

The injuries sustained must have only occurred due to negligence. Injuries outside of the doctor’s negligent actions do not count as a basis for medical malpractice. It’s typical for a medical expert’s testimony to show that it was, indeed, the medical professional’s negligence that led to your injury.

WKW has in-house legal nurse consultants that assist with medical malpractice cases. 

Their clinical experience is a significant asset in building your medical malpractice case.

Injury Led to Damages

Finally, to complete the needs for a medical malpractice case, the injury that you sustained due to the medical professional’s negligence must have resulted in damages, such as harm and suffering. Typical damages of medical malpractice lawsuits include:

  • Need for disability
  • Significant financial strain
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of income and/or ability to work
  • Disfigurement 

Talk to a member of our team today, if you have any questions about whether or not you meet the requirements to make a medical negligence claim. We can review the details and see if we can make a strong case for you. We know how to prove medical malpractice and have recovered substantial compensation for our clients. View our case results here for more information. 

Suing a doctor or medical institution is an extremely complicated, expensive process. Consult with our team of experienced medical malpractice lawyers to see if what happened to you has the basis for a medical malpractice claim. We want to make sure you get the compensation you deserve.

What Are Common Types of Medical Malpractice Cases? Examples of Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice commonly includes the following types of cases:

A Closer Look at Examples of Medical Negligence

Let’s take a detailed look at some of  Indianapolis’ most common medical and surgical errors. These examples are broad; your situation may or may not fit into one of these categories. If any of these sound familiar to you, contact us right away.

Failure to Diagnose

The human body is complex with all bodily systems contributing to each other.  A doctor must diagnose correctly when something is wrong in the body and proceed accordingly. If a doctor fails to diagnose and treat an illness, then you may be able to make a medical malpractice claim. Failure to diagnose, failure to inform or failure to treat after diagnosis are all topics to discuss with your medical malpractice attorney.

Incorrect Treatment

A doctor may have diagnosed you correctly but then performed a procedure or treatment unrelated to their diagnosis. The doctor’s response to the diagnosis must be followed up on. Additionally, the doctor may be aiming for the correct treatment but performing the treatment with negligence. In this case, they act incompetently and violate the standard of care.

Lack of Information

You need to be informed of the risks surgery poses. If you are not adequately informed, you may be in surgery you don’t want and then get injured. Being fully informed of your medical options is your right. If a health care professional fails to inform you, they could be liable. Read our blog about questions to ask before surgery to be fully aware of your options.

Medical Malpractice Compensation

When pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit, you can be awarded two different types of damages:

  • Compensatory damages
  • Punitive damages

Compensatory damages are payments that you collect that include economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are measurable damages, meaning there is a bill or receipt. Economic damages include:

  • Medical bills
  • Physical therapy bills
  • Transportation cost
  • Loss of earnings
  • And more

In a medical malpractice suit, it’s typical to pursue future losses. There are also non-economic damages that can be recovered, which are less measurable, but still need compensation.

Non-economic damages include:

  • Physical damage
  • Disfigurement
  • Mental and emotional suffering
  • Extreme pain 

When pursuing your medical malpractice case, talk to your medical malpractice attorney about what type of compensatory damages you can be awarded. The burdens of suffering from either mental, physical, emotional, or financial pain are hard enough. Our team at WKW wants to ensure that you are adequately compensated so that you can focus on healing.

The second type of damage you can pursue is punitive damages. Punitive or punishing damages happen when a medical professional is punished because of their actions. They can only be awarded when the doctor’s malpractice was done maliciously or when their misconduct was intentional. These are very difficult to recover and are rarely awarded in cases.

What Are Indiana's Medical Malpractice Laws?

Every state has its medical malpractice laws. For example, the Indiana statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases is two years from the date of the alleged malpractice or the date you should have known about the malpractice. 

When it comes to medical malpractice lawsuits, Indiana puts a cap on financial awards. In 2022, the cap on damages is limited to $1.8 million. 

Indiana has pre-suit requirements as well. If the health care provider is qualified and you are seeking more than $15,000 you will be required to bring your claim before a medical review panel before the case is heard in court. Indiana’s medical malpractice laws are complex. It is best to seek legal advice on these issues.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney Today

Navigating the complexities of a medical malpractice case can be complicated. Don’t go through the process alone.

If you or a loved one have been a victim of medical malpractice, you are urged to contact the Indianapolis medical malpractice lawyers of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. An experienced Indianapolis medical malpractice lawyer at WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.218.9643 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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