You might not be able to claim any compensation for a medical accident unless you can prove the accident and the resulting injuries were caused by negligence. If a medical provider fails to meet their standard of care and you suffer an injury as a result, your injury was caused by medical negligence. People or families who are the victims of medical negligence may be entitled to compensation.
Difference Between Malpractice and an Accident
Consider the hypothetical scenario where you’re getting blood work done and the phlebotomist (the person who draws your blood) accidently gets your vial mixed up with another patient’s vial. They realize their mistake after you leave, and they call you and tell you a new blood sample is needed.
- They failed to meet the standard of care by mixing up your blood sample, despite procedural safeguards in place to prevent that from occurring
- They rectified their mistake by telling you and calling you back for a new sample
- You suffered no monetary damages except having to come back in for another appointment (unless they want to charge you for the second appointment, which hopefully they wouldn’t)
Although the phlebotomist made a mistake, they were transparent about it, owned their mistake and fixed it. Even if you had to miss an afternoon of work to get your blood redrawn, you likely don’t have enough provable damages to justify a claim against the phlebotomist or their employer.
Consider the same scenario where the phlebotomist didn’t recognize their mistake or did realize it but didn’t tell anyone. If you were getting blood work done to detect cancer, and another patient’s blood was tested instead of yours, your cancer diagnosis could be entirely missed. Plus, another patient might be misdiagnosed with cancer.
Although the doctors would do follow-up screenings to confirm the other patient’s cancer diagnosis, you might still have your own diagnosis delayed or missed. A delayed cancer diagnosis could lead to your cancer progressing instead of being treated at an early stage.
This may result in your cancer being fatal or costing far more to treat, or you could require more aggressive cancer intervention in the future due to the delay in treatment.
If all of that happened because a phlebotomist accidently mixed up your blood sample, you could be entitled to significant compensation.
However, you and your legal team would need to prove:
- The phlebotomist mixed up your blood sample
- Your diagnosis was delayed or missed
- You suffered verifiable monetary damages and pain and suffering as a result
Proving what happened and showing what that mistake cost you isn’t necessarily easy or straightforward. It will require investigation and testimony from medical professionals, both to identify and prove the mistake occurred and to demonstrate what that mistake cost you in terms of your health, treatment and money.
In the first scenario, you likely couldn’t claim any compensation. In the second scenario, you or your family could be entitled to tens of thousands of dollars (or more).
Medical Malpractice Cases Are Complex and Situation Specific
Even if you or a family member’s injuries, illness or death was caused by a medical professional’s mistake, winning a malpractice claim can be difficult. Doctors, hospitals and healthcare networks have large malpractice liability policies to shield them from these types of claims. Insurance companies aggressively fight to protect doctors and avoid having to pay those claims.
Whether the medical error was an honest accident or caused by carelessness doesn’t usually matter from a legal standpoint or from the family’s perspective. The outcome is the same either way. You might have more sympathy for someone who accidently made a mistake, but the result is the same. When the welfare, health or financial stability of your family may be affected, the cause doesn’t really matter.
We Don’t Care About the Why – Just the Outcome
The team at the Dressie Law Firm doesn’t care whether the negligence or medical malpractice that led to you or your loved one’s injury was an honest mistake or negligence. All we care about is proving the mistake happened and your injuries and damages were a direct consequence of that mistake.
Call our Atlanta malpractice lawyers at (678) 619-2977 to find out if you have a case.