Medical Malpractice FAQs

What is "medical malpractice?"

Medical malpractice is the failure of a health care provider, usually a doctor, to provide a patient with treatment equal to the customary standard of care in the medical industry. Further, the failure must result in an injury to the patient. Examples of medical malpractice can take many forms, too numerous to list. It can include, however, misdiagnosis, improper treatment, failure to treat, delay in treatment, failure to perform appropriate follow-up care, prescription errors, and many other forms of negligence.

What is meant by the "customary standard of care"?

This phrase refers to whether your doctor or other medical provider exercised the same degree of care and skill as would the average qualified doctor or medical provider presented with the same or similar circumstances as your case.

Suppose your treatment did not yield the result the doctor told you it would or that you thought it would. Is this medical malpractice?

Not necessarily. A bad outcome or unfavorable result is not malpractice unless it was caused by the failure of the doctor or other medical provider to exercise the degree of care and skill expected of a qualified physician/medical provider under similar circumstances.

What about attorney's fees and costs?

Most good medical malpractice attorneys will agree to prosecute malpractice claims on a contingency fee arrangement. This means that the attorney will not charge an hourly rate for his services, but instead will be paid a percentage of the recovery in the event of a settlement or judgment. In many cases, costs are advanced on behalf of the client and are payable, interest free, at the conclusion of the case. Costs include such expenses as medical consultant fees, court filing fees, service of process fees, expert witness fees, deposition costs, etc.

When must one make a claim?

Generally speaking, victims of medical malpractice have a limited time period in which they must pursue their claim or be forever barred. In most jurisdictions, including Arizona, this "statute of limitations" is two years from the date of the incident of malpractice. Certain exceptions do exist under the law in certain circumstances. For instance, the foregoing time period may be extended for certain individuals including those who are minors when the malpractice occurred. Additionally, in certain instances, such as when a medical professional conceals the incident of malpractice, victims that did not know, and could not have known of the malpractice until some time after the incident are allotted additional time under the law to file a lawsuit.

The foregoing exceptions are fact sensitive and require the analysis of a qualified attorney to determine if they applicable. There are some instances, such as when one is proceeding against a governmental entity (government hospital or government paramedics) when the time is shortened considerably. DO NOT DEPEND ON INFORMATION IN THESE FAQ'S. If you believe you or a loved one have a medical malpractice claim, act on it immediately. Since a medical and legal analysis must be done prior to filing a lawsuit, one should not wait until the statute of limitations period is nearing. It is advisable to consult an attorney as soon as possible for other reasons as well. Memories of the event(s) in question tend to fade for witnesses and, if you wait too long, witnesses may no longer be available. If you believe you have a case, follow up with it right away.

Does Arizona place a cap on the amount of damages recoverable in medical malpractice actions?

No. Article 2, Section 31 of the Arizona constitution prohibits the enactment of any law limiting the damages one may recover for personal injury or death.

If an attorney believes that the physicians and/or other medical providers breached the standard of care and that as a result you were injured, is your case definitely worth pursuing.

Not necessarily. Litigation is a long and difficult process. Frequently medical malpractice cases take two or three years to prosecute. In addition, they are expensive to litigate, often costing thousands of dollars. In order to justify the pursuit of such a claim, the injuries and damages suffered by the victim of malpractice must be very substantial (death or serious and permanent injury) or it is not economically feasible to proceed.

To determine whether you have a potential medical malpractice claim and, if so, whether it may have merit, you should ask the following questions:

  • Have I or a member or a member of my family suffered a severe or permanent injury while under the care of a doctor, hospital or other health care provider.
  • If so, was this injury more severe or devastating than would be expected from the original diagnosis or trauma.
  • Has it come to my attention, perhaps through another doctor or health care provider that the treatment received was inappropriate, or that the outcome was unusual?
  • Do I have strong doubts about the competency of a doctor or other medical provider and the propriety of the care received?
  • Have I been kept in the dark about a medical situation?
  • Has my insurance company questioned the appropriateness of specific procedures, tests or diagnoses?
  • Do I have concerns that a medical device may have seriously affected my health?
  • Were you injured because of improperly functioning medical equipment?
  • Did your doctor fail to send you to a specialist when required?
  • Were you injured by a prescription drug or the failure of your doctor to properly prescribe and administer your medications?
  • Are there other compelling reasons which cause me to believe that medical malpractice is present?

If your answers to these questions lead you to believe you are the victim of malpractice and have suffered significant injuries and damages as a result thereof, please contact the Law Offices of William D. Black. If we agree, we will review your medical records. Our telephone number is 602.910.6144 or 888.349.3599 . You may also contact us via email . A qualified representative from the firm will then determine whether there is a basis for a medical malpractice claim and, if so, whether it is economically feasible for you to pursue your claim.

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