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Can You Sue a Doctor for Not Treating You?

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Can I sue my doctor for not helping me?

Going to visit the doctor, especially nowadays during the covid-19 pandemic, could be very difficult. There may be long lines, an understaffed medical department, and the constant fear of getting the covid-19 virus. Patients visit the hospital for treatment of their illnesses and injuries. Patients expect the highest level of care from their physicians. When a physician fails to treat you for your injuries or illnesses, you may have a claim against the physician for malpractice. This malpractice claim could include future damages that have been sustained as a result of your doctor not treating you. For more information, speak with a medical malpractice attorney to pursue your legal claims against your doctor.

What is a medical malpractice claim?

A medical malpractice claim is brought against a medical provider when they fail to act within the reasonable standard of care when treating their patient. The patient, also known as the plaintiff, will have to show that the doctor acted negligently. The doctor acts negligently when they fail to act within the reasonable standard of care. The doctors are held to a higher standard of care. If a doctor fails to perform a treatment that a reasonable doctor would have performed, then the doctor will be liable for medical malpractice. The standard for medical malpractice and how a reasonable doctor would perform is proven through the use of expert testimony. Expert testimony occurs when other medical professionals testify as to how a reasonable doctor would have performed given the circumstances. If your doctor performs similarly to how a reasonable doctor would perform under the circumstances, then you do not have a valid legal claim against your doctor for medical malpractice.

For example, you visit your general physician because your intestines were hurting. Your general physician runs through imaging to take a look at your intestines but neglects to take any blood tests. A standardized blood test would have shown that you had an infection. If a reasonable doctor in a similar position would have done a blood test when someone complained of intestinal pain, then your doctor would be liable for medical malpractice. But, if having a blood test is not common when someone complains of intestinal pain, then your doctor will not be liable for medical malpractice.

Another factor plaintiff will have to prove is that the delay caused harm to the patient. This may be a difficult element to prove, and so an experienced medical malpractice attorney is needed to pursue these types of claims. It is not enough to show that the doctor acted negligently, but the plaintiff must also show that the additional injury was caused because of the delay in medical care. The delay must have made the patient’s condition worsen or prevented the possibility of a certain treatment being administered.

For example, you see your general physician and he fails to treat you for your infection. The infection worsens, and it becomes stronger, turning into pneumonia. Pneumonia is now even harder to treat than before. Plaintiff will have to show that because of the delay, the patient now has to suffer pneumonia. The patient would not have suffered pneumonia if the doctor correctly diagnosed the infection.

What is a misdiagnosis?

A misdiagnosis occurs when the doctor gives an incorrect diagnosis regarding a condition. An incorrect diagnosis could make the patient’s condition worse and delay getting a correct diagnosis. This would result in more severe injuries. The most common misdiagnosed illnesses from doctors include Parkinson’s, heart attack, and asthma.

California medical malpractice laws and statutes of limitations.

In California, time limits for medical malpractice claims extend up to 3 years. The medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed no later than 3 years of the injury or 1 year after the plaintiff discovers the injury, whichever occurs first. We advise our clients to contact us for a consultation as soon as possible when they realize they have a claim against their doctor. There are a few situations where the medical malpractice statute of limitations is tolled (essentially the clock is stopped). When the healthcare provider is fraudulently concealing actions or when the healthcare provider unintentionally leaves a foreign object in the patient, the patient does not have to bring their claim within those three years.

California medical malpractice requirements.

California requires that when a medical malpractice claim is made against the defendant, the defendant must be served formally at least 90 days before the lawsuit is filed. The defendant must be informed of the legal basis of the claim, the injuries suffered, and the loss suffered.

California medical malpractice monetary limitations.

California has a limitation on the number of damages a plaintiff could collect in a medical malpractice injury. California caps the non-economic damages at $250,000, which includes pain and suffering. The $250,000 cap is very controversial, and many organizations are now trying to combat it by increasing the cap for plaintiffs.

Attorney’s fees in California medical malpractice cases.

California also places limits on medical malpractice claims. Below are the limits placed:

  • 40% of the $50,000 recovered
  • 33% of the next $50,000
  • 25% of the next $500,000
  • 15% of any amount over $600,000

What should I do if I believe I have a claim against my doctor for medical malpractice?

If you feel as if your conditions will worsen, contact a medical provider immediately to get medical assistance. Try to seek the advice of a second opinion. Our attorneys advise that clients do not wait until their conditions worsen in order to file a claim for medical malpractice. During the claim, the defense could bring up the fact that the plaintiff has waited a long time when bringing forth their injuries. A plaintiff always has the responsibility to mitigate their damages and prevent their injuries from getting worse as a result of waiting.  After seeking another medical opinion, contact your attorney as soon as possible to start the process of bringing forth a medical malpractice claim. It is important that you act quickly within the statute of limitations deadline.

If you or a loved one believe that you have a medical malpractice claim against your physician, please contact our attorneys today to determine the best legal strategy for your claim. It is very difficult to undergo a medical condition, especially when a doctor fails to treat it. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. If you would like to get a clear understanding of how much your medical malpractice damages would be, contact us for a free consultation. During this consultation, we will take a look at your medical malpractice claim, and determine the best legal strategy. It is very important to consult a skilled medical malpractice attorney to pursue those claims for you. We have offices located in every major city such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Irvine, Fresno, etc.

 ***Disclaimer: This page is created by Heidari Law Group for educational purposes. This article provides a general understanding of the law. It does not provide specific advice. By using this site and reading through this page, there is no attorney-client relationship created between you and any member of Heidari Law. Further, due to the constant change of the law, some parts of the information above may no longer be good law.

Sam Heidari

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