At Clark and Steinorn, LLC we have occasion to speak to many victims of medical malpractice in Prince George's County, Maryland. We take their calls and meetings very seriously and endeavor to provide them sage advice on how to proceed. There is an inevitable tendency for people injured by the actions or inactions of doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers, to skip directly from what happened to them to how much they should receive in compensation.
Unfortunately, this analysis neglects a far more important area of consideration: did the healtcare provider breach the standard of care and if so what harm did they cause? The overwhelming reasons for failed medical negligence claims involve either both of those elements.
Doctors often make mistakes or misjudgments but in order for the victims of their mistakes to receive compensation, the mistake has to be a "breach of the standard of care." The standard of care can be established in various ways but the main method is through the testimony of another healtcare provider working in the same area of expertise.
Once a breach of the standard of care is established the next question is did this breach cause an injury? Often doctors make medical errors but unless the injured party can establish "causation" of a specific injury the case will not be sucessful. Causation is also established through expert testimony. Some times, the breach of the standard of care is established by one expert and causation by another. The bottom line, the value of a Prince George's County medical negligence case is zero unless negligence and causation are established first.
Assuming that these vital elements are obvious, then medical cases are evaluated in a similar manner to any other kind of case. Minor or temporary injuries, have limited value and generally won't be pursued by an experienced attorney even if responsibility is obvious, This stems from the high trial costs of such cases. Medical experts even in obvious cases are essential and highly expensive.
In serious cases involving permanent injury, death or paralysis, the value of the case is a function of the monetary losses associated with the negligence, which can include medical expenses, prescription costs, loss of income or income earning potential, necessary accomodations to homes and offices such as wheel chairs, ramps, elevators, bathroom and bedroom alterations and home healthcare services.
There are many other sub-categories of economic damages depending upon the victim's injuries. One can also recover pain and suffering although these damages are subject to a "cap" or limitation for non-economic damages that varies depending upon when the malpractice took place. These "caps" create artificial limitations on catastrophic injuries as the cap on one's "pain and suffering" is the same whether one is rendered quadraplegic or suffers a far less challenging injury.
With these factors it is imperative that victims of medical malpractice consult an experienced attorney as immediately as possible about such cases.
for more information generally on case evaluation go to our prior discussion on Prince George's County auto accident cases as many of the same factors apply: http://www.maryland-law.com/library/what-is-my-prince-georges-county-auto-accident-case-worth-.cfm