Everyone becomes ill or is injured at some point in their lives. Coping with injuries or illnesses can be frightening. However, we trust our doctors and medical professionals to take the best possible care of our health. Unfortunately, sometimes things go wrong under their care.
Although some medical malpractice cases involve minor injuries, 80 percent of cases result in serious harm or fatalities. The suffering resulting from medical malpractice can affect the victim’s physical, emotional, and financial well-being. If you or someone you love has been a victim of medical malpractice, a knowledgeable Atlantic City medical malpractice lawyer at The Levin Firm can help protect your rights and explain your legal options.
About The Levin Firm
At The Levin Firm, we represent individuals who have sustained injuries from medical malpractice. Our attorneys have significant experience practicing law in Atlantic City, and we’ve earned a reputation for zealous advocacy and aggressive litigation. When settlement negotiations prove unviable in a case, we aren’t afraid to litigate all the way through trial to ensure that we recover maximum compensation on our clients’ behalf.
We understand medical malpractice law, and we know how to build a winning case. If you sustained injuries due to medical malpractice in Atlantic City, whether at one of AtlantiCare’s numerous locations or a small private clinic, you should reach out to The Levin Firm today to discuss the details of your injuries and determine your eligibility to pursue compensation.
We have an office conveniently located in Atlantic City, and we offer prospective clients free consultations, during which we can answer questions and explain legal options. We take pride in the accessible and compassionate legal services that we provide to all of our clients, and we always pursue maximum compensation on their behalf. Contact us today to find out how we can help you with your Atlantic City medical malpractice claim.
What We Can Do for You
If you’ve suffered injuries from medical malpractice in Atlantic City, you should reach out to the experienced legal team at The Levin Firm for a free consultation. Our award-winning attorneys have experience litigating and negotiating medical malpractice claims, and we understand the law and how to use our resources to build a strong legal case.
Our results show a proven track record of success.
That we have recovered millions of dollars in damages for previous clients is no promise that we can do the same for you. When you retain us, however, we take some of the stress off your shoulders, working to gather evidence, interview witnesses, and negotiate with at-fault parties on your behalf so that you can focus on your recovery. The more serious your injuries, the more likely you will have to miss work and the more expensive your medical care will be.
Don’t let the stress of dealing with the financial consequences of medical malpractice prevent you from consulting our Atlantic City attorneys. Contact us today for a free, no obligations consultation.
What is medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a health care professional fails to provide appropriate treatment, fails to take appropriate action, or provides substandard treatment that causes a patient’s injury or death.
A research study estimated that more than 250,000 people die every year from medical errors, making it the third leading cause of death in the U.S. after cancer and cardiovascular diseases. There were, on average, 12,414 cases of medical malpractice reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank each year.
There are countless ways in which medical malpractice can occur. However, it also helps to know what medical practice is not. For example, on its own, a patient’s deteriorating health is generally not malpractice. Some conditions are terminal or untreatable. As long as a healthcare practitioner is providing reasonable care to a patient by the standards of the field of medicine they practice, the practitioner generally has not committed medical malpractice even if the patient’s condition does not improve.
What are the basic elements of medical malpractice?
To establish medical malpractice, you must prove that:
- A relationship existed between the doctor and the patient. If a doctor began treating you, it is easy to prove a physician-patient relationship existed. A relationship exists if you chose to seek care from the doctor and they accepted you as a patient. However, if you just followed medical advice you overheard in a social setting, you probably can’t sue a doctor for malpractice. Issues about the doctor-patient relationship sometimes arise when a consulting physician did not treat you directly.
- The doctor was negligent. Sometimes the patient is unhappy with the outcome of their medical treatment. This does not necessarily mean the doctor is liable for medical malpractice. A doctor’s care must be “reasonably skillful and careful.” To sue for malpractice, you must show that the doctor (or other medical professional) was not reasonably skillful and careful in connection with your diagnosis or treatment, and that the doctor’s negligence resulted in harm to you. Because this issue is key to a medical malpractice case, almost all states require that the patient present a medical expert to discuss the appropriate medical standard of care and show how the defendant deviated from that standard. In legal terms, the standard of care is the level at which an ordinary, prudent professional in the same field of medicine, with the same training and experience, would practice under the same or similar circumstances. Once that has been established, the question is whether the doctor met or did not meet that standard of care.
- The doctor’s negligence caused the injury. Sometimes it is difficult to prove that the medical provider’s negligence caused the harm because many patients were already sick or injured. The patient must prove that it is “more likely than not” that the doctor’s negligence directly caused their injury. The basic elements of a medical malpractice lawsuit are that the medical professional owed a duty of care, breached that duty, that the breach harmed you, and therefore, you were injured.
What are the most common Atlantic City medical malpractice allegations?
Medical malpractice cases happen in a variety of ways, including errors in treatment, health management, or aftercare. They generally fall within these categories: approximately 33 percent of claims relate to failure to diagnose, 24 percent of claims relate to surgery, 14 percent of claims relate to improper treatment, and 9 percent due to adverse drug events. Others may involve bad reactions to anesthesia, injuries at the injection site, inadequate monitoring, or lack of informed consent. Health conditions with the highest number of claims include heart attacks, fractures, and appendicitis.
Some of the most common types of malpractice include:
Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose. Diagnostic errors, such as a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, are the largest source of medical malpractice claims. Diagnosis can be difficult because many conditions have similar symptoms, and some symptoms are hard to identify. However, an accurate diagnosis is essential so that the patient receives prompt, appropriate treatment.
Surgical errors. Surgical errors are the second most common medical malpractice claim. About 4,000 surgical errors occur each year.
There is some degree of risk in all surgeries, but common errors include:
- Operating on the wrong patient;
- Operating on the wrong body part;
- Performing the incision at the wrong location;
- Injuring organs that were not supposed to be part of the surgery;
- Nerve injuries;
- Anesthesia errors; and
- Leaving a piece of surgical equipment inside a patient.
Medication errors. Approximately 7,000 to 9,000 people die each year from a medication error.
- Prescribe the wrong medication;
- Provide an incorrect dosage;
- Ignore or fail to check patient allergies;
- Fail to spot possible drug interactions;
- Fail to include all essential elements of the prescription;
- Providing inaccurate instructions for taking the medication; and/or
- Write or interpret the prescription incorrectly.
Anesthesia errors. Even though anesthesia is safer than it used to be, there are still risks and the possibility of complications, particularly if the anesthesiologist errs in administering the anesthesia or does not monitor the patient properly. Problems can arise during outpatient procedures as well as surgery.
Childbirth errors. OBGYNs are the defendants in more medical malpractice lawsuits than any other type of doctor. Birth injuries can severely harm both mothers and infants.
Emergency room errors. Emergency rooms can be chaotic and stressful for both the patients and the doctors. Patients may urgently need medical care. Errors or delays in laboratory tests, diagnosis, and treatment can lead to medical malpractice cases.
Infections. Hundreds of thousands of hospitalized patients acquire a serious infection while in the hospital. Approximately 75,000 of them die during their hospitalization due to hospital-acquired infection. Hospitals take many precautions, but infections continue to happen. At a New Jersey hospital, a cluster of infections peaked when there was an increase in hospitalizations for COVID-19. This indicated a connection between hospitals with COVID-19 and drug-resistant infections.
Who is liable for medical malpractice in Atlantic City?
We tend to think of doctors committing medical malpractice, but many kinds of health care professionals may be liable for medical malpractice, including nurses, chiropractors, podiatrists, osteopaths, dentists, eye doctors, radiologists, and other health providers who care for patients every day. A pharmaceutical company or the manufacturer of a defective medical device may be liable for a malfunction or failure to warn about the dangers or side effects.
Hospitals can potentially be held liable for the actions of their employees under the legal theory of vicarious liability, which can mean employers are potentially liable for the wrongful acts of their employees. For this theory to apply, the employee must be performing a duty within the scope of their employment. However, if an employee was not on the job or was not directly employed by the hospital, they may be liable individually.
Generally, the hospital is not responsible for the malpractice committed by a doctor who is an independent contractor. However, if the hospital grants hospital privileges to an unlicensed physician, they may be liable. The hospital may also be directly liable for mishandled diagnostic tests, inadequate medical records, not admitting and discharging patients correctly, negligent hiring, understaffing, and generally failing to protect patients from harm.
The hospital must also make sure that there are enough qualified nurses on duty at all times to care for the patients. Also, state and federal laws prohibit hospitals from failing to treat or admit people based on their “race, color, religion, or national origin, or on their inability to pay for treatment.”
What is a certificate of merit in an Atlantic City medical malpractice claim?
In a New Jersey medical malpractice lawsuit, within 60 days after the defendant's healthcare provider files a response to the plaintiff victim’s complaint, the plaintiff or their lawyer must provide the defendant with an affidavit of merit.
In the affidavit, an appropriately licensed person, for example, a doctor in the same medical field, must state under oath that there is “a reasonable probability that the care, skill or knowledge exercised or exhibited in the treatment, practice or work that is the subject of the complaint, fell outside acceptable professional or occupational standards or treatment practices.”
In other words, the expert must state a belief that the defendant treated the patient in a manner that did not meet the appropriate medical standard of care under the circumstances and that there is a valid basis for filing this medical malpractice lawsuit.
If the plaintiff does not file and serve an affidavit of merit, the court may dismiss the lawsuit.
What compensation might be available in my Atlantic City medical malpractice case?
A medical malpractice error can be catastrophic for the victim, their family, and their finances. The judge or jury awards compensation based on the severity of the individual’s injuries and their monetary losses.
The types of potential compensation in malpractice cases include:
- Current and ongoing medical bills;
- Pain and suffering;
- Lost income and possibly the inability to earn the same income in the future;
- Diminished quality of life;
- Wrongful death damages; and, occasionally,
- Punitive damages. In New Jersey, these are capped. The court will only award up to $350,000 or five times the amount of compensatory damages, whichever is greater.
What is the process of an Atlantic City medical malpractice trial?
Every trial is different, but the typical process for a civil trial includes:
- Filing the complaint (which starts the process in motion);
- Pretrial motions;
- Discovery and fact-finding;
- Attorneys for both sides making opening statements;
- Both sides calling witnesses and submitting evidence to the court;
- Attorneys for both sides making closing arguments;
- Jury instructions and deliberation; and
- A verdict.
In a study by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, only about 7 percent of medical malpractice cases end in a trial in which a jury determines the verdict. That means that 93 percent of these types of claims settle out of court by agreement between the parties. The healthcare provider’s malpractice insurer may try to settle the case early and cheaply. If the parties cannot agree, the case is tried in court.
People may wish to settle because the issues of potential liability and damages are uncertain or because they just want the matter to be over.
How long will my Atlantic City medical malpractice case take?
As a general rule, medical malpractice suits are lengthy. Factors that enter into determining the timeframe include expert witnesses, who must explain the way(s) in which the defendant failed to meet the standard of care. The doctors, hospitals, and malpractice insurance companies often fight the charges forcefully. Also, over time, key witnesses may die or become unavailable, and the plaintiff may eventually decide to accept a settlement.
What is the statute of limitations for an Atlantic City medical malpractice case?
All states have deadlines for filing lawsuits. According to N.J. State § 2A:14-2(a)(b), the deadline for medical malpractice lawsuits is two years from the date the injury occurred or when the patient should have been reasonably aware of the injury. However, in medical malpractice cases involving children, the two-year countdown begins on the date of the child’s 18th birthday unless the child was injured at birth. In the case of birth-related medical malpractice, the victim, or their representative, must file the case before the minor’s 13th birthday.
Why do I need an Atlantic City medical malpractice lawyer at The Levin Firm?
You may be recovering from an illness or injury.
During this difficult time, our medical malpractice attorneys and legal team can take a great deal of work and stress off your shoulders by:
- Investigating your case and identifying all potentially liable parties.
- Establishing the full value of your claim to obtain full and fair compensation.
- Handling a mountain of paperwork. Relevant documents often contain a great deal of complex legal and medical language. Responding to documents and court directives in a timely fashion is essential to the success of your case.
- Dealing with medical providers, insurance companies, and attorneys representing multiple parties.
- Utilizing resources. A malpractice attorney has access to all the resources necessary to pursue these complex cases.
- Negotiating with the other side. Lawyers know how to negotiate efficiently and effectively.
- Avoiding mistakes. Trying to handle a complicated medical malpractice case alone may lead to mistakes that are costly and difficult to correct.
- Arguing your case in court. This is when all of the meticulous groundwork, as well as your attorney’s trial skills, work to your advantage.
The consequences of a medical malpractice error can be life-altering and catastrophic. If you have suffered an injury caused by medical malpractice, consult a lawyer as soon as possible. For more information or a free consultation, please call the experienced, compassionate personal injury lawyers at The Levin Firm at (609) 250-2800 or contact us online.