Medical Errors & Negligence
THE MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CLAIM: AN EXPERIENCED LEGAL TEAM IN OWEN SOUND
Day after day in this region, family physicians, nurses, surgeons and others perform their jobs well. Indeed, many times they perform heroically. They are part of a world class health system and we are fortunate to have them. However, despite the best of intentions, sometimes things go off the rails. Sometimes this happens with catastrophic results. Certain mistakes are excusable, others are not. Certain errors warrant a claim for compensation, others simply don’t.
DO I HAVE A CASE?
Our office receives a number of calls each year from patients who are very troubled by what has happened at the hands of a nurse, physician or hospital. The reality is that only a few such claims merit legal action. Why? There are 2 reasons:
1. WAS SOMEONE NEGLIGENT?
First, one must prove that the doctor or nurse was negligent. This is not as obvious as one might think. A poor outcome does not mean someone was negligent. For example, all surgeries have risks and a bad surgical outcome might simply fall under the acceptable risks of surgery. Further, a family physician may have an entirely reasonable explanation for missing a diagnosis of cancer and thus cannot be faulted for that.
2. DID THAT NEGLIGENCE CAUSE YOU TO BE WORSE OFF?
Second, if negligence can be proven, one also needs to prove that you are worse off now than you would have been had the physician or nurse not made an error. In other words, did the negligence cause your life in some ways to go off the rails? For example, if an error was made in a knee operation and you have trouble walking – would you have that trouble even if the surgery had gone perfectly? Or, if the physician had caught your cancer a year earlier, would it have made any difference? I can tell you that proving negligence is often the easiest thing; proving causation is entirely different.
THE EXPERT OPINIONS
Our team cannot have a legal opinion of any kind unless we first have a supportive medical opinion. This is step one of any investigation. Frankly, no matter how “obvious” things may seem to be, your opinion is not worth anything and our medical opinion is not worth anything. The court is only interested in what expert nurses or doctors say about the conduct of the medical professionals who we allege caused you harm. With no supportive opinion, there is no case.
WHAT IS MY CASE WORTH?
This is impossible to quantify in general terms. What we can say is this: if you have only lost a modest amount of income or if your life has only modestly been affected by the malpractice, your case is likely not worth proceeding with. These cases are defended vigorously in all but the most obvious cases of malpractice. Because of that, it is no place for small claims.
WHEN MUST I SUE FOR MEDICAL MALPRACTICE OR NEGLIGENCE?
You must sue within 2 years of the date on which you could have reasonably known that the health professional may have been negligent. For children, the two year clock begins to tick on the 18th birthday. This is the “limitation period” and it is sacred; it cannot be missed.
DO I NEED TO PROVIDE A RETAINER IN ADVANCE FOR MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CLAIMS?
Yes. Unless agreed otherwise and unlike all our other areas of practice, at Tamming Law we require a retainer of at least $7,500.00. This is not for legal fees but for out of pocket expenses. As noted above, we do not know if you have a case unless a medical expert tells us you do. This means that we have to order all your medical records and pay an expert or two to give us an opinion. This is expensive and only in exceptional cases does our firm agree to pay those costs. Please know that it is possible that you will pay for these expenses only to learn that you do not have a case worth proceeding with.
HOW ARE YOU PAID?
We will delay payment of our legal fee until the case resolves and will receive compensation only if you receive compensation. Our standard fee is 30% of the total amount collected, plus HST and out of pocket expenses.
At Tamming Law, we have obtained compensation for:
• Pain and suffering
• Rehabilitative expenses
• Medical costs
• Family members who have helped out
• Loss of income
• Loss of capacity to help around the house
If you believe you have been the victim of medical malpractice, contact Tamming Law today. Let’s get to work.