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San Bernardino Medical Malpractice Attorneys

Most patients expect a high quality of care when they put themselves in the hands of a doctor, whether they have suffered an injury or have symptoms of an illness. They expect the doctor to give a reasoned, accurate diagnosis, to provide accurate treatment, and to do nothing that makes their overall health or symptoms worse.

Unfortunately, not all doctors provide the standard of care you expect.

Did you suffer medical malpractice due to the negligence of a medical care provider, whether it was at the hands of a doctor or another member of a hospital staff? Gomez Trial Attorneys can help you better understand the compensation you deserve. Contact the San Bernardino Medical Malpractice Lawyer today at (619) 237-3490 to learn more about your legal rights following a medical malpractice event.

Defining Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice occurs when a medical care provider causes an injury to a patient through negligence. Most medical malpractice cases do not occur due to deliberate error or malice on the part of the physician or care provider, but rather by a care provider who does not take the necessary steps to properly diagnose, treat, and care for a patient. Medical malpractice can occur due to several types of negligence.

Failure to Diagnose

In many medical cases, properly diagnosing the patient proves critical for overall patient care and treatment. Without an accurate diagnosis, the patient cannot receive the care needed to treat their illness or injury.

In a failure to diagnose case, the physician, despite the presence of clear evidence of a specific type of illness or injury, does not accurately diagnose the patient’s illness or injury. For example, a doctor looking at an x-ray of a broken bone who insists that the patient suffered no serious injuries could be subject to liability for failing to diagnose that injury. In other cases, the doctor may fail to accurately diagnose an illness: despite the clear presentation of symptoms, the doctor does not properly identify the patient’s illness.

Failure to diagnose can mean that the patient does not receive the proper treatment for their injury or illness. In the case of some injuries or illnesses, improper treatment worsens the symptoms of the original condition.

For example, walking around on a broken bone could cause the break to worsen, potentially even leading to permanent disability. Failing to treat an illness can cause the victim to develop worsening symptoms, including more serious illness than the original diagnosis would have indicated.

Misdiagnosis

Like the failure to diagnose, misdiagnosis can cause severe impacts for patients. In a case of misdiagnosis, the physician diagnoses the wrong condition: for example, diagnosing a benign infection instead of cancer, or diagnosing cancer where the patient has another condition entirely. To qualify as misdiagnosis, the patient must have a clear presentation of symptoms that indicate the presence of the illness or injury.

In a misdiagnosis case, unlike failure to diagnose, the patient may receive treatment for the wrong illness or injury. For example, a patient diagnosed with cancer, despite not having it, may undergo chemotherapy treatments. These treatments can cause their own set of complications.

Often, treatments for severe illnesses have substantial side effects, which can leave patients in worse condition than before. Meanwhile, the patient is not receiving treatment for the illness or injury they actually have, which can cause symptoms of their real condition to worsen.

Surgical Errors

During surgery, doctors perform delicate procedures on patients who need those treatments to maximize their care. Unfortunately, surgical errors can cause severe injury to the patient. In some cases, a doctor might treat the wrong part of the body, sometimes with catastrophic consequences: for example, the doctor might amputate the wrong limb or operate on the wrong organ. In other cases, the doctor might leave a foreign object in the patient after surgery.

These extreme events, sometimes called “never events,” can have severe impacts on the patient, leading to infection, the need for repeat procedures, loss of function and quality of life, and even death.

Birth Injuries

When an injury to either mother or child occurs due to a physician’s error during childbirth, it qualifies as a birth injury. Birth injuries can leave either mother or child with lifelong injuries. During this very vulnerable time, mothers and children alike require a high standard of care.

Doctors typically monitor both mother and child carefully to reduce the risk of injury or death. A doctor who fails to properly monitor mother or child and to make reasonable decisions about treatment based on that monitoring could cause injury or death to either patient or both. Doctors who wait too long to recommend a C-section, for example, could cause oxygen deprivation or death of the unborn child, or could cause severe injury to a mother who can no longer labor safely.

Medical Product Injuries

Medical products perform a variety of functions in offices and hospitals. These devices must adhere to high-quality control guidelines to ensure that they perform their assigned function and do not pose unnecessary danger to patients. While some devices are implanted in the patient’s body, like, artificial joints or pacemakers, others are used externally, like, syringes or monitoring devices.

When those devices fail to properly perform their assigned function, they can lead to severe injury in the impacted patient. For example, if a patient’s IV device malfunctions, the patient might get a much larger dose of medication than intended, or the patient may not get any of the medication at all. A patient may also be severely injured if a broken device implanted in the patient’s body fails to perform its assigned functions, often leading to serious complications for the patient.

Medication Errors

When used properly, medications perform many vital functions. They help manage pain, treat symptoms of illness and infection, and even help manage the symptoms of common diseases and conditions. Used improperly, on the other hand, medications can cause a host of issues that can leave patients with severe and sometimes lifelong side effects.

Sometimes, doctors may find themselves prescribing additional medications to help treat side effects from a patient’s existing prescriptions, especially at improper doses.

Not only must doctors and nurses properly calculate doses to ensure that patients receive the treatment recommended for their weight, age, and symptoms, they must make sure that the medication does not interact with any others the patient must take to create dangerous side effects. Doctors must also take care to ensure that those medications do not cause extreme complications in the patient and monitor the patient for side effects.

Failure to Properly Inform a Patient

Doctors have a duty not only to treat their patients carefully and provide a high standard of care, but to make sure that they keep patients informed about their treatment options and what those treatments will mean for them. Doctors must explain common side effects to their patients so that patients can make informed choices about their treatments.

While they need not list every potential side effect, such as those that have a low occurrence rate, they must let patients know about the likely side effects associated with given treatments. In some cases, patients might decide not to pursue a treatment based on likely side effects.

Doctors need not discuss potential side effects with patients in an emergency, life-threatening situation. For example, if a patient comes into the emergency room unconscious, or if unexpected complications arise during surgery, the doctor may choose to treat the patient using best practices and their current knowledge, rather than securing consent from the patient before moving forward with treatment.

Determining Liability in Medical Malpractice Cases

Most doctors and medical care facilities carry medical malpractice insurance that helps protect both doctors and patients when medical malpractice does occur. Liability for medical malpractice can rest with:

The Doctor

Most often, the doctor or other medical professional who makes a treatment decision is liable for medical malpractice if that decision was negligent. In some cases, more than one provider may be liable for a medical malpractice claim, especially if multiple providers worked together to treat a particular patient.

To include a doctor as part of a medical malpractice lawsuit, a doctor/patient relationship must exist between the doctor and the victim at the time of the medical malpractice.

For example, a doctor, who was never involved in treating the patient prior, assigned to the emergency room at the time of the victim’s visit does not bear any liability in a medical malpractice claim. On the other hand, if a doctor on the floor got pulled in to consult and the two doctors decided together on an incorrect diagnosis, despite clearly presented symptoms, both doctors may share liability for an act of medical malpractice.

The Facility

In some cases, the facility where the doctor practices may share liability for a medical malpractice event. This includes cases where the facility employs the doctor directly, rather than simply offering a place for the doctor to practice. The facility may also be liable in situations where the facility’s negligence leads to a medical malpractice event: if the facility’s inadequate cleaning leads to an infection in the patient, for example.

A Medical Equipment Manufacturer

If a medical device malfunctions, the medical equipment manufacturer may be liable for a medical malpractice event. For example, if a pacemaker manufacturer puts out devices with known errors, the manufacturer may be liable for any injury that a patient suffers as a result of that malfunction.

Obtaining Compensation for San Bernardino Medical Malpractice

Many patients wonder, “How much compensation can I get for a San Bernardino medical malpractice claim?” Many doctors carry substantial medical malpractice insurance policies that can provide the compensation patients deserve after a medical malpractice event.

Since medical malpractice often leads to substantial injury and suffering for the patient, it can lead to considerable settlements for victims; however, the amount you receive will depend on the doctor or facility’s insurance policy, who is liable for your medical malpractice event, and the severity of your injuries from the event.

Medical Expenses

Medical malpractice can lead to substantial medical expenses. Not only can medical malpractice lead to treatment that you do not need for conditions that you do not have, in many cases, medical malpractice can lead to the need for increased treatment.

In a delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis case, for example, victims may need more medical treatment for their actual diagnosis than they would have if the doctor had properly diagnosed the illness or injury in the first place. Compensation for those medical expenses may form the foundation of your medical malpractice claim.

Lost Wages

In many cases, medical malpractice makes it hard to return to work. You may have gone in for a routine procedure, only to find that ongoing complications from medical malpractice make it impossible for you to return to work for a longer period of time than you initially contemplated.

In other cases, you may miss work due to a doctor’s failure to properly diagnose and treat your illness or injury, since continuing symptoms make it difficult to manage your work responsibilities. You can include the lost wages from that time as part of your San Bernardino medical malpractice claim.

Pain and Suffering

Many medical malpractice events can cause both physical and emotional suffering. Not only can medical malpractice cause more pain than your initial illness or injury, you may go through considerable anguish due to your losses related to that malpractice. Other victims struggle with the weight of undiagnosed conditions, wondering if they will ever get their lives back. You can include that pain and suffering as part of your San Bernardino medical malpractice claim.

San Bernardino Medical Malpractice FAQs

San Bernardino is home to a wide array of medical providers that range from small clinics to large hospitals. The doctors, nurses, and other professionals in these facilities have a legal obligation to provide exceptional care to their patients during diagnosis, treatment, and aftercare. Those who fail to uphold their legal duty commit malpractice. Medical malpractice can lead to injuries, illnesses, and lifelong struggles. In the worst malpractice cases, patients die.

If you suffered injuries, contracted an illness, or were harmed because of a medical error or medical negligence by a provider in San Bernardino, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney at Gomez Trial Attorneys as soon as possible. Medical malpractice cases are traumatizing for victims because malpractice diminishes the trust a victim has in their medical providers.

A skilled San Bernardino medical malpractice lawyer can review the details of your case and advise you on the best course of action for your specific circumstances. Until you have a chance to consult with a medical malpractice lawyer, below are some answers to frequently asked questions you might have about hiring an attorney and filing a medical malpractice claim against your medical provider.

How much time do I have to file a San Bernardino medical malpractice claim?

Each state establishes a time limit within which medical malpractice victims can file a claim against a medical professional who harmed them. If you know right away that you have been harmed by your medical provider, you have three years to file a claim. But many medical malpractice victims do not discover their injuries for weeks, months, or even years. California’s delayed discovery rule gives you one year to file a claim from the time you discovered your injury or should have reasonably discovered your injury.

California has one of the strictest statutes of repose for malpractice cases. The statute of repose, which is an absolute time limit, prevents malpractice victims from filing a claim if they discovered their injury more than three years after it occurred. The only exception to this rule is retained foreign objects. If you had surgery and the surgical team left a foreign object like a surgical tool or sponge in your body, you have unlimited time for discovery. Once you discover the object, you must file a medical malpractice case within one year.

An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you understand how the statute of limitations and statute of repose apply to your specific circumstances.

How much does it cost to retain a San Bernardino medical malpractice attorney?

You generally do not have to pay an upfront retainer to hire a medical malpractice lawyer to represent you in your claim. You should not have to suffer economically because a medical professional harmed you, nor should you have to pay attorney’s fees out of your own pocket. Our San Bernardino medical malpractice law firm offers free case evaluations and we take new clients on a contingency fee basis. We are empathetic to the challenges that come with being a victim of medical malpractice and we want to help you seek justice.

When a law firm takes a case on contingency, the client does not pay upfront. Instead, clients enter an agreement with the law firm that states the firm can deduct attorney fees and other costs of representation from any compensation their lawyer secures for them as a result of their medical malpractice claim. This could be money from a settlement agreement or court-awarded damages from a jury verdict in the victim’s favor.

How much compensation can I expect to receive from my San Bernardino medical malpractice claim?

The financial outcome of medical malpractice claims varies greatly. Each case involves specific facts and circumstances that impact the value of the claim.

Some crucial factors that affect the value of your claim and the amount of compensation you ultimately receive are:

  • The type of harm you suffered;
  • Your total economic losses;
  • The impact of your malpractice injuries on your life;
  • Your long-term prognosis; and
  • Whether fraud or intentional harm was involved in the malpractice.

Your lawyer will use the information and documents you provide to estimate the value of your claim and likely will call upon medical experts to quantify the impact your injuries have had on your life, typically referred to as non-economic damages. We discuss each of these factors in more detail below.

Type of malpractice injury. Medical malpractice encompasses a wide range of actions or inaction that harm a patient. Harm comes in many different forms—some harm is more severe, some is less severe. The more severe your malpractice injuries are, the more compensation you are likely to receive if you prevail in your claim. The highest value medical malpractice claims typically involve actions referred to within the medical community as never events. These events include 29 reportable, preventable, and severe events that result in disability or death.

Never events fall into seven categories and include:

  • Surgical events. These include surgeries on the wrong part of the body, on the wrong person, or involving the wrong procedure. Surgical leftovers and anesthesia errors also fall under the umbrella of surgical never events.
  • Product or device events. Patients who suffer injuries because of contaminated prescription drugs, faulty medical devices, or the improper use of a medical device or medical equipment are victims of a product or device never event.
  • Patient protection events. Medical facilities are responsible for discharging people at the appropriate time, but they also must discharge patients to authorized people. Discharging someone too soon or releasing a patient to the wrong person can lead to dangerous situations. Attempted suicide, suicide, and other acts of self-harm while hospitalized are also patient protection never events.
  • Care management events. Most never events are care management events, including medication errors, birth injuries, improper blood transfusions, slip and fall accidents, bedsores, and failure to communicate test results to a patient.
  • Environmental events. Injuries from electric shocks, gas and oxygen line mix-ups, exposure to toxic chemicals, improper use of bedrails, improper use of bed restraints, and burns are examples of environmental never events.
  • Radiologic events. These events are infrequent and occur when metal enters an MRI area and leads to serious injury or death. A medical professional might bring metal into the MRI area or fail to remove metal from the patient.
  • Criminal events. Medical professionals who intentionally harm or neglect a patient commit the worst type of never event. Examples of criminal events include patient abduction, doctor impersonation, and abuse. Defrauding a patient about a medical mistake is also a criminal never event.

Economic losses. Medical malpractice often comes with some level of economic burden for victims and their families. Those who cannot work because of their injury or condition or the need to care for a child malpractice victim lose a significant amount of income. At the same time, medical treatment costs usually start to add up.

Common medical expenses that add to a medical malpractice victim’s economic losses include:

  • Ambulance service;
  • Emergency room treatment;
  • Hospitalization;
  • Diagnostic scans;
  • Lab tests;
  • Corrective surgery;
  • Medication; and
  • Travel expenses to and from a doctor’s office or hospital.

Other expenses that can contribute to economic losses for malpractice victims can include the costs to modify their homes to make them more accessible and for replacement services that victims can no longer perform for themselves. These additional expenses do not apply in every case, but they do impact the value of cases where victims and their families need to build wheelchair ramps or hire people to help with lawn care, cleaning, cooking, and more.

Long-term prognosis. Some medical malpractice claims are the result of a devastating error by a medical professional. Diagnosis errors, medication errors, and surgical errors can all lead to permanent disability or the death of a patient. When a patient has a grim long-term prognosis, the value of their medical malpractice claim increases. A medical malpractice claim might accompany a wrongful death lawsuit and survival action by the patient’s loved ones in the most tragic cases.

Sometimes medical malpractice leads to permanent damage for a patient. If a medical malpractice victim has a permanent disability or condition, the value of the claim and amount of potential compensation increases. Permanent injuries mean that a victim can seek compensation for ongoing medical treatment costs, long-term nursing care if applicable, and the value of future lost wages.

Non-economic losses. Medical malpractice injuries cause more than financial struggles for victims and their families. They can also impact many areas of a victim’s life. Beyond the economic burden of malpractice, victims face physical pain, emotional trauma, and other devastating personal consequences. These impacts make up a portion of the monetary value of a medical malpractice claim.

Attorneys often include the following non-economic losses, when appropriate to the circumstances:

  • Physical and emotional pain and suffering;
  • Loss of consortium (physical and emotional intimacy) with a spouse;
  • Diminished quality of life;
  • Loss of enjoyment; and
  • Scarring and disfigurement.

Many states, including California, limit the amount of non-economic damages a patient can receive in a medical malpractice claim. Under California’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA), medical malpractice victims cannot collect more than $250,000 in non-economic damages. MICRA does not apply to economic losses such as medical expenses and lost wages.

Intentional harm or fraud. When medical malpractice involves intentional harm or fraud, victims have the right to seek punitive damages in their claim. California does not limit punitive damages, so they can add a significant amount of compensation to a medical malpractice claim. However, courts only award punitive damages in two scenarios. First, if a medical professional intentionally harms a patient or displays gross negligence, a court might award punitive damages. Second, medical professionals or facilities that hide or lie about a medical mistake might be liable for punitive damages.

How long will it take to resolve my San Bernardino medical malpractice claim?

It’s impossible to predict how long it will take to settle or litigate your medical malpractice case. Each case is different and medical malpractice claims include special procedural requirements that take more time than other cases. These requirements deter frivolous lawsuits and allow providers to settle the claim before going to trial.

Medical providers are often eager to settle because malpractice claims are bad press that can hurt a facility’s bottom line. However, this does not mean they will refuse to fight it out in court, depending on the situation. Your attorney can evaluate your medical malpractice claim and give you a better idea of how long you may have to wait to resolve your claim.

How can a San Bernardino medical malpractice lawyer help me?

San Bernardino medical malpractice lawyerMedical malpractice cases are complex because they typically include multiple parties. Claims may include more than one medical professional, the facility, as well as associated insurance companies. The number of parties coupled with the extra paperwork medical malpractice cases require makes these claims a handful before you even file the lawsuit. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can help with all the procedural requirements and deadlines, but they will do far more than push paperwork.

Some ways our medical malpractice attorneys will support your claim and increase your chances of getting the compensation you deserve include:

  • Evaluation. Not every injury someone suffers in a medical setting constitutes malpractice. Your lawyer can review the facts of your case and determine whether you have a viable malpractice claim. If your claim is valid, your attorney will also estimate the monetary value of your claim based on their experience, past cases, and possibly, the help of experts such as life care planners.
  • Communication. Your attorney will handle communication with relevant parties, including the provider, insurance companies, and the legal defense team. This allows you to focus on your recovery and rehabilitation so that you can reach maximum medical improvement.
  • Investigation. Your lawyer will investigate your malpractice case by gathering necessary evidence, such as medical records. Additionally, investigations typically involve speaking to witnesses, other patients, and experts who can support your case.
  • Resolution. Your attorney wants to help resolve your claim so you receive every cent you deserve for your malpractice injuries. This includes negotiating with the defense and taking your case to trial if a settlement is not an option.

Contact an Attorney Before Accepting a Settlement Offer

Following a medical malpractice event, the doctor or facility’s insurance company may contact you to offer a settlement. Consult an experienced San Bernardino personal injury lawyer at Gomez Trial Attorneys before accepting that settlement, since it may not reflect the full compensation you deserve for your injuries.

Do You Need an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney in San Bernardino?

If you experienced medical malpractice, an attorney can help you seek the compensation you deserve. Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys today at (619) 237-3490 for a free consultation.


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