Medical malpractice claims are often very complex and may require expert testimony to substantiate claims of malpractice by doctors and other medical professionals. Getting sound legal advice from an experienced personal injury attorney may likewise be crucial to your ability to correctly identify potentially responsible parties. If you were harmed by the negligence of a doctor or other medical provider, a Franklin County medical malpractice lawyer can help determine whether you have a valid medical malpractice claim.
Common Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim
Medical malpractice claims are typically based on principles of negligence under Missouri law. In order to prove that an injury occurred due to the recklessness or carelessness of a doctor or another type of medical care provider, you or your Franklin County medical malpractice attorney typically must prove the following elements of legal negligence:
- There was an official medical provider-patient relationship between the physician or medical staff member and the injury victim based on a course of treatment
- The doctor was negligent in some way, in that another reasonable doctor would have acted differently in the same situation
- The negligence directly led to the injuries sustained by the patient
- The patient suffered actual physical harm as a result of the negligence
Timeframes for Claims Involving Malpractice
Under Missouri Revised Statutes §516.105, individuals who suffer injuries due to medical malpractice generally have two years from the date of their injuries in which to file medical malpractice claims. However, there are some exceptions to this general rule, particularly regarding minors who incur medical malpractice injuries. Additionally, if individuals do not immediately discover their injuries, they typically have two years from the date that they discover—or reasonably should have discovered—their injuries in which to file their claims.
There is also a statute of repose that applies to medical malpractice actions. Because of this rule, injury victims may file such claims no more than ten years since the alleged malpractice occurred. This statute of repose applies regardless of when the victims discovered the injury or what kind of mistake caused the injury.
Additionally, Mo. Rev. Stat. §538.225 requires that potential plaintiffs file an affidavit of merit within 90 days of filing their medical malpractice claims. In the affidavit, the injury victims must state that they have consulted a qualified expert regarding their claims and that the expert believes that the doctor or medical provider was negligent in providing treatment.
Limits on Recoverable Damages
Like some other states, Missouri places limits on the amount of damages that are available in medical malpractice cases. Pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. §538.210, injury victims generally may not recover more than a total of $400,000 in non-economic damages, no matter how many defendants are potentially liable for the medical errors at issue.
If the injuries suffered are catastrophic or fatal, however, the cap for non-economic damages typically increases to $700,000, regardless of the number of potential defendants. According to Mo. Rev. Stat. §538.205, catastrophic injuries include quadriplegia, paraplegia, loss of two or more limbs, permanent brain damage resulting in cognitive impairment, permanent failure of one or more major organ systems, and significant vision loss.
A proactive medical malpractice lawyer in Franklin County may be helpful in quantifying the damages to which injury victims may be entitled. The amount of damages available in medical malpractice cases vary according to the severity and the nature of the injuries that patients have suffered.
The types of damages that may be available to injury victims commonly may include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages or income due to an inability to work
- Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering
- Punitive damages in cases of intentional or grossly negligent behavior
A Franklin County Medical Malpractice Attorney is Available to Help
Medical malpractice claims are often subject to strict deadlines, legal requirements, and standards of proof that may be difficult for you to navigate on your own. As a result, you need to strongly consider contacting a Franklin medical malpractice lawyer for advice.
The injuries from a medical provider’s error can be extremely severe and life-altering. Do not delay in seeking the legal advice that may be essential to your ability to recover damages for your injuries—call today to schedule an initial consultation.