Can I sue my care provider for medical malpractice?
All medical care providers, including doctors, nurses, hospitals and pharmacists, have a responsibility to provide a certain level of care and treatment for their patients that is recognized by the profession.
Care below that standard, because of a failure on the part of the care provider or because of the choice of improper treatment for a condition, is considered negligence. If you believe that your medical care provider was negligent, you may have the basis for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
If my care or treatment was provided in Colorado, do I need to file in Colorado?
Because medical malpractice claims arise from state law they are pursued in the state where the negligent care occurred. Regardless of where you are now, your lawsuit for negligent care from a doctor or hospital in Colorado will need to be filed in Colorado.
How long do I have to file a medical malpractice lawsuit?
Lawsuits for medical malpractice must be filed with the court within two years of your negligent care; this is the statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits in Colorado. Only in very unique circumstances will a patient be allowed be file after the two-year period. Patients who are minors at the time of the malpractice may wait to file after reaching age eighteen, but must file within two years of their eighteenth birthday. However, the parents’ possible claim for economic losses are lost after two years from the date of the negligent care. Read more about time limits.
What will I gain from a medical malpractice lawsuit?
Medical mistakes are often traumatic, and made more so by the difficulty of understanding the facts surrounding the injury – finding out what happened is the first concern of most malpractice victims. Sadly, one of the only certain ways of discovering the truth is to file a lawsuit – hospitals, nurses and doctors are trained NOT to share compromising information with a patient.* To learn the “what and why” typically requires litigation.
Compensation for economic losses such as medical expenses (including those paid by your medical insurance provider) and loss wages should be sought for both the past and future. These are typically expenses easily supported by documents, such as payroll stubs and medical bills.
More challenging are the losses for which there is no hard measure – a permanently impaired body or the diminished ability to enjoy life are losses that also deserve valuation. Both the economic losses and the non-economic injuries are legitimate elements of the damages for which you look to the responsible party for compensation. Read more about damages.
In Colorado, damages which can be collected for medical malpractice claims are capped. Damages for non-economic losses, including permanent impairment, cannot exceed $300,000. And the total damages award is capped at $1Million, unless a judge finds extraordinary circumstances and allows a greater award.
What to expect as a plaintiff in a medical malpractice lawsuit
Pursuing a personal injury claim, including a medical malpractice case, is a significant personal and financial decision – you will invest about two years in the process until your case is ready for settlement or trial. The process begins with the filing of a complaint by the plaintiff, the injured party. Several months are spent on investigating and collecting evidence by both sides in preparation for trial, and the only way to achieve a top settlement for your case is to be ready for trial. Read more about the litigation process.
Unique to medical malpractice claims, by Colorado law you must have your matter reviewed by a medical care provider prior to the filing of a complaint. This medical expert must have experience in the same area of care as the negligent doctor or nurse, and must state that there is a good-faith basis for the claim. Beyond the certificate of review, medical experts play key roles in establishing the standard of care owed to a patient, and whether a specific care provider (the defendant) failed to meet that standard.
And though personal matters become public in any personal injury lawsuit, it is particularly true for medical malpractice victims – you will be forced to share the most intimate details of your daily life with strangers, many of whom are openly hostile. Choose a lawyer with whom you are comfortable and who is experienced in protecting medical malpractice victims from further harassment.
*They are trained to “apologize” by the insurance companies in hopes of avoiding a lawsuit since these apologies have been shown to deter some possible litigants and are prohibited by law from use as evidence in a medical malpractice claim.
How we helped a medical malpractice client
$10Million Verdict for Medical Malpractice Victim
At trial, it was demonstrated that patient would need lifetime care, that he would not be able to earn a living, and that he would need full-time assisted living. A complete life care plan was generated and priced to a net present value...