Personal Injury Specialized Area of Practice In Charleston, SC
As a society, we put our trust in medical professionals. They, in turn, under oath, pledge to provide the highest standard of care to their patients. However, errors committed by doctors and other healthcare providers can cause severe, life-changing injuries and conditions that require ongoing, costly medical care, and in certain circumstances even death. The complex nature of medical malpractice claims can be difficult to understand, especially when you or a loved one is suffering from the after-effects of physical or emotional pain.
This is why you should contact the Feidler Law Firm. Our firm has successfully litigated many medical malpractice cases and yeilded large settlements. We have the litigation experience to navigate your case and get you the compensation you or your loved one deserves and hold those responsible for your pain and suffering accountable.
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Understanding Medical Malpractice Law
Proving Your Medical Malpractice Claim
Medical malpractice attorneys specialize in helping their clients collect and organize all necessary medical records, witness accounts, and other evidence needed to present a winning case.
In South Carolina, the patient alleging medical malpractice must generally prove four elements or legal requirements to make out a successful claim of medical malpractice.
1. The existence of a legal duty on the part of the medical provider to provide care or treatment to the patient;
2. A breach of this duty by a failure of the medical provider to adhere to the standards of the profession. Patients need to prove that the error was outside the standard of care;
3. A causal relationship between such breach of duty and injury to the patient;
4. The existence of damages that flow from the injury such that the legal system can provide redress. We must prove that some type of serious injury was caused by the mistake. Patients filing a claim must present sufficient evidence that a patient’s injury was directly caused by an error resulting from medical malpractice.
What is required to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in South Carolina?
As a prerequisite to filing any medical malpractice lawsuit in South Carlina, the injured patient must first put the medical provider on notice of the medical malpractice lawsuit. This is in accordance with South Carolina Code Section 15-79-125, which requires that an injured party with the court a Notice of Intent to File Suit.
The Notice of Intent to File Suit must:
- Name all health care providers who were negligent and will be a part of the lawsuit;
- Contain a "short and plain statement of the facts" showing how and why the injured patient is entitled to relief;
- Be signed by the plaintiff or by the patient’s attorney;
- Include responses to the standard interrogatories or similar disclosures required by the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure; and
- Under the South Carolina Code of Laws Section 15-36-100, be accompanied by an expert affidavit, which must specify at least one negligent act (or failure to act) on the part of the defendant's health care provider, and the factual basis for a malpractice claim based on the available evidence.
The Notice of Intent to File Suit, responses to standard interrogatories, and expert affidavit must be filed with the court and served on all the potential defendants. This filing in effect pauses the statute of limitations, meaning the time limit to file the medical malpractice lawsuit will not run out.
An additional step that must be taken once the proper paperwork is served on all the potential defendants is pre-suit mediation. Within 90 days—and no later than 120 days—after the Notice of Intent to File Suit and the expert affidavit are served on the potential defendants, the parties are required to participate in a mediation conference and make an effort to resolve the dispute before a medical malpractice lawsuit needs to be filed. However, it is rare for a medical malpractice lawsuit to settle prior to filing. If the parties are unable to resolve the medical malpractice lawsuit at pre-suit mediation, an impasse is called by the mediator and the plaintiff can then file the Summons and Complaint and serve the same on the defendants.
These steps are critical to filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in South Carolina. That is why it is important to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney at the Feidler Law Firm for a free consultation if you believe you have a potential medical malpractice claim.
What are some examples of Medical Malpractice?
Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis
A misdiagnosis can have devastating effects on a patient. They may suffer debilitating pain, lasting physical impairments, and even death due to a lack of appropriate treatment. They may also endure severe side effects from receiving treatment for the wrong condition. A delayed diagnosis can have similar outcomes, particularly as the condition progresses. Whether a patient is misdiagnosed or their condition is diagnosed too late, they’ll need to demonstrate negligence on the part of their doctor.
Some examples are as follows:
- Failure to listen: It’s the doctor’s responsibility to listen and examine the symptoms the patient is describing.
- Failure to recognize key symptoms: Healthcare professionals are trained to make diagnoses based on their patients’ symptoms.
- Failure to make a diagnosis, despite symptoms that indicate a particular illness, may constitute medical malpractice.
- Failure to examine a patient’s medical history: Physicians must examine their patients’ personal and family medical histories. An illness can worsen that otherwise would have been easily identifiable.
- Ordering an improper test: If a doctor orders incorrect tests based on the symptoms described to them, they may be liable for any ensuing injuries.
- Failing to order tests: A doctor can be found negligent for failing to order standard tests after observing certain symptoms.
- Failing to interpret test results correctly: Medical professionals are responsible for interpreting test results correctly.
Postoperative care refers to the monitoring and subsequent care that a patient receives following surgery.
Medical professionals are responsible for monitoring their patients for complications that might arise from surgery, preventing and treating infections, monitoring vital signs, providing detailed instructions for post-surgical care, and correctly prescribing medicine to aid in the healing process.
If a doctor fails to properly monitor a patient or identify symptoms after surgery, they may be liable for malpractice.
Some of the common infections, illnesses, and other conditions that arise from postoperative negligence include:
- Viral infections
- Internal bleeding
- Necrotizing fasciitis
- Infections at the site of surgery
- Tissue necrosis
- Organ perforation
- Urinary tract infection (UTI)
- Staph infection
- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)
- Bloodstream infections
- Blood clots or pulmonary embolism
- Respiratory infections such as pneumonia
There are multiple types of anesthesia with distinct purposes:
- General: In general anesthesia, the patient is unconscious and unaware of sensations. They don’t feel any pain or remember the procedure afterward.
- Regional: Regional anesthesia numbs a specific part of the body, such as an arm or leg.
- Local: Local anesthesia numbs one small area of the body. For example, it may be given to relieve a patient’s pain while a deep cut is sewn.
Each type of anesthesia carries the risk of complications. One of the most common and serious complications is anesthesia awareness, also known as intraoperative awareness. This occurs when a patient regains consciousness during surgery. If anesthesia is used incorrectly and a patient is injured as a result, the negligent medical professional may be liable for the resulting damages.
Some examples of negligence by an anesthesiologist include:
- Administering the wrong type of dose of anesthesia
- Administering anesthesia too late
- Failing to put a patient under anesthesia
- Failing to properly manage the administration of medications and fluids
Surgical & Medication Errors
If your surgery or the surgery of your family member went wrong, you probably have questions about whether the doctor and hospital staff did everything they were supposed to do. Unfortunately, hospitals and doctors rarely admit mistakes.
Some examples of surgical errors that are ground for a medical malpractice suit are as follows:
- Negligent performance of an operation
- Failure to diagnose a dangerous medical condition during surgery
- Failure to recognize complications during surgery
- Operating on the wrong part of a patient’s body
- Damaging healthy organs during surgery
- Leaving instruments in a patient’s body following surgery
- Failure to recognize and properly treat post-operative complications
- Mistakes made during emergency surgery
- Failure to prevent or fix complications during surgery
Medication errors result from the use of improper medications, allergic reactions, overdoses, failure to recognize contraindications, or combining medications improperly. Medication errors may be made the doctor, the pharmacist, or the nurse giving the medication.
Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Malpractice Liability?
Here are some pertinent questions to determine whethere or not you have a case:
- What were the circumstances surrounding your or your loved one's illness or injury?
- How did the doctor treat it?
- What did your or loved one's doctor tell you or them about your or their treatment?
- Did you or your loved one follow your doctor's instructions?
- What has been the result?
Answers to these and other relevant questions become important if you think your doctor may have committed malpractice. Like other personal injury claims, the case will either be settled or go to trial, usually before a jury.
One of the things we’ll discuss when we first meet you is how and how often you want us to contact you. If you have a case, we’ll probably be working together for quite a while. Some people want to hear every detail, while others only want us to let them know if something really important happens. Some people like phone calls, while others prefer emails, so they can have a record of the conversation. We try hard to accommodate each client’s preferences.
This is a natural question that’s very difficult to answer. The value of a case depends on the circumstances of the injury or death, how it affected the people involved, as well as a large number of other factors.
While we can talk to you about the factors that will affect the value of your particular case, we can’t give you an exact number—and neither can anyone else.
You may read about cases that sound similar to yours, but may be worth much less or much more than your case because of these individual factors. As your case moves through different stages, we’ll be able to give you better estimates about the value of your case, and what to expect from a settlement or trial.
Most clients don’t want to go to court. Although it’s hard to predict early on whether a case will settle or go to trial, most cases settle.
Our philosophy is to prepare every case thoroughly, as if it will be tried because that’s how we believe we can get you the best settlement. If your case is one of the few that doesn’t settle before trial, we’ll make sure you’re carefully prepared on what will happen and what to expect at trial. You’ll also have plenty of advance notice, so you that can make necessary arrangements with work, child care, as well as with your other responsibilities.
Determining who is liable for a medical error in any given medical malpractice scenario can be challenging, because multiple health care professionals from various entities may have provided care around the time of the medical error. In the majority of cases, medical negligence claims are brought against:
- The doctor or physician who performed the medical procedure;
- A medical specialist, such as a radiologist;
- Medical staff such as a registered nurse or certified nurse assistant;
- Primary care physician;
- A medical firm that employed the doctor of a physician, or the firm where the doctor was a partner;
- Medical clinic;
- Rehab facility;
- Skilled nursing home;
- At-home nurses aide;
- Governmental entity;
- Hospitals or similar entities may be directly or indirectly liable for the negligence of their staff, including physician assistants, nurses, and technicians.
- Statute of Limitation: First, it is important to know that medical malpractice lawsuits are subject to a statute of limitations. This means an injured party has a limited amount of time to file a medical malpractice lawsuit from when the injury was discovered or should have been discovered. In South Carolina, the statute of limitation varies depending on the negligent medical providers but can vary between one year to three years.
- Recoverable damages and limited recovery due to caps: In South Carolina, an award of damages may be capped for an injured patient. Damages in South Carolina are divided into two categories, economic and non-economic.
- Economic damages, or special damages, compensate you for things like medical bills or lost wages. Economic damages include past and future medical bills and lost income.
- Non-economic damages, or compensatory damages, compensate you for things like pain and suffering and emotional harm. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, and mental anguish.
Unfortunately, the amount you can recover for non-economic damages is limited under South Carolina Code Section 13-32-220, which states that noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases are capped at $350,000 when the claim is against a single health care provider. The cap on noneconomic damages is raised to $1.05 million when the award is against multiple health care providers.
Thankfully, no such cap exists for economic damages, meaning the full amount awarded for lost pay or healthcare expenses can be recovered. South Carolina does not require that a physician carry medical malpractice liability insurance, nor does South Carolina have a minimum carrying requirement. While most hospitals require doctors to carry insurance, some do not.
Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Fee Arrangement
The Feidler Law Firm believes that everyone deserves high-quality legal representation, no matter their financial status. Therefore, we operate on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay us only when we win your case. Our fee would come in the form of a percentage of the settlement or verdict amount we obtain. If there is no recovery, there will be no attorneys’ fees.
You’re not alone. The Feidler Law Firm is here to help. Submit your information through our web form, or call The Feidler Law Firm at 843-790-9015 for a FREE consultation to discuss your case.