Questions About Medical Malpractice?

Medical Malpractice FAQs

What are the first steps in a medical malpractice case?

The first step in any medical malpractice case is to obtain copies of the medical records of the healthcare professional you believe committed malpractice. In most cases it is important to obtain the records in a way that minimizes suspicion by the healthcare provider. Once we have the medical records, we will do a preliminary evaluation to see if malpractice, in fact, occurred. To do this, we review the facts with a medical expert in the particular field involved and conduct our own legal and medical research.

Note: Simeone & Miller, LLP Attorneys generally do not charge a fee for our work in determining whether or not you have a case.

I think my doctor committed malpractice, what should I do?

Your health is the most important thing. So the first thing you should do anytime you believe a doctor has committed malpractice is take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that you are no longer in danger. Those steps could be everything from seeking a second opinion to securing a transfer from the hospital in which you have been admitted. Once you are out of danger, you should contact us immediately. We can then guide you as to the proper way to preserve evidence in your case, evaluate your potential case, and pursue your case.

What types of medical malpractice cases do you handle?

Simeone & Miller, LLP has worked on many medical malpractice cases, some with very substantial settlements. We can handle virtually any type of medical malpractice case, including:

  • Birth injuries, including wrongful death
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Erb's palsy/shoulder dystocia
  • Brain injuries
  • Infections (MRSA and others)
  • Decubitus ulcers (also known as bed sores)
  • Failure to diagnose cancer and other serious diseases
  • Bowel perforations
  • DVT/pulmonary embolism
  • Improper treatment of sepsis
  • Liver, spleen and other lacerations
  • Intra-abdominal and other internal bleeding
  • Paralysis and nerve and spinal cord injuries
  • Negligent amputation, including wrong-site amputation
  • Negligent and wrong-site surgery and surgical complications
  • Improper treatment of fractures
  • Scarring
  • Wrongful death
  • Nursing home neglect
  • Many other instances of medical malpractice

How much will I have to participate if I bring a malpractice claim?

While medical malpractice claims typically involve a large investment of time by attorneys, they require relatively little investment on the part of the injured patient. You should expect to meet with us initially so that we can obtain the information necessary to evaluate your case and begin to pursue your claim. Once we file suit, your role will be limited to a few court appearances, such as a deposition, a mediation conference and, of course, trial, if we are not able to settle your case. The exact amount of time you will need to devote depends on the particular type of case you have, but overall is far less than time spent by your attorneys and is generally very manageable.

Who pays for the expenses in the case?

Generally, we will advance the costs and expenses in your case. These include expert witness fees, court filing fees, deposition costs, and any other expenses directly related to the litigation of your case. This allows you to pursue a case without having to spend thousands of dollars in costs and expenses.

Are frivolous medical malpractice suits driving doctors out of business?

Nothing could be further from the truth. Virtually no other profession has the protections from lawsuits that are afforded to the medical profession. For example, in Maryland to even file a medical malpractice case an injured patient must first obtain a certification by an expert who within 5 years of the alleged act of malpractice had clinical experience, consulted relating to clinical practice, or had teaching experience in the responsible doctor's field or a related field, or in the field of health care in which the defendant provided treatment to the plaintiff. (MD Code Ann., Courts & Judicial Proceedings S3-2A-01 2(i)).

If the defendant is board certified in a specialty, the expert must be board certified in the same or a related specialty as the defendant, unless the expert teaches in the defendant's specialty or the defendant was providing health care outside of his specialty.

In addition, there are many cost barriers to bringing a medical malpractice case that prevent attorneys from taking frivolous cases. Attorneys for the injured victim are typically paid only if they obtain a recovery in a case, so it is not in their interests to bring cases that lack merit.

In summary, medical malpractice cases can be time-consuming and expensive. It is not unusual for an attorney to work a case for several years and advance up to $50,000 in costs - all with no guarantee of recovery. In some cases, the costs exceed $100,000. Accordingly, the claim that attorneys are bringing numerous frivolous malpractice claims is a myth that doesn't make sense in reality.

It's also important to keep in mind that while medical malpractice insurance is expensive, doctors are extremely well compensated and the payment of insurance expenses is a cost of doing business for all professions, including lawyers. Also, malpractice insurance rates have very little relation to the number of malpractice lawsuits filed or the total payouts. In fact, the number of malpractice suits and payouts has remained virtually stagnant over the course of the past ten years while insurance premiums have in some cases skyrocketed. This is likely due to other factors such as investment and business decisions by malpractice insurance companies. Moreover, malpractice rates aren't lower in states with tort reform versus states without tort reform. You can obtain more information on this issue here.

The pharmacy gave me the wrong medication, what do I do?

We have handled a number of these types of cases. First and foremost, contact your physician or visit the emergency room to ensure that you are not in danger. You then should preserve all evidence of the error including the pill bottle, the receipt from the pharmacy, and the remaining medication. Then call us immediately.

What if my injury was a known risk of a procedure?

A known risk of a procedure is an injury that can occur regardless of whether the doctor is negligent in performing the procedure. Many times this is a valid defense for the physician, but often it can be proved that an injury occurred as a result of negligence.

In addition, many times the injury to a patient is the result of the failure to recognize and treat the initial injury in a timely fashion. Even if you believe that your injury occurred because it was a known risk, you should still consult with us to determine if your injury could have been prevented or avoided with a timely diagnosis. It's also important to remember that medicine is not an exact science - sometimes even seemingly minor complications can contribute to a detrimental outcome. The question is: Were they appropriately diagnosed by the physician(s) and, if not, would the outcome have been different if they had?

I suspect that years ago my doctor committed malpractice in providing care and treatment to me. It appears the statute of limitations has run; is it too late?

There are numerous exceptions that can serve to lengthen the amount of time one has to file a medical malpractice case. These rules include the discovery rule, the continuing treatment rule, and extension for periods of incapacity. As soon as you suspect that you have been a victim of malpractice, you should contact an attorney immediately. What you may believe is a hopeless case may, in fact, not be.

I learned that my doctor was successfully sued for malpractice in the past, should I stop treating with him or her?

Even the best doctors make mistakes. However, if you believe that your doctor is not providing sufficient care to you, then you may wish to look for a different doctor. Grades for physicians can be found at www.healthgrades.com .