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Colburn Law

Bellevue Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Medical Malpractice

Like anyone else, doctors sometimes make mistakes. Unfortunately, doctors’ mistakes may lead to the injury of a patient. Even if an injury occurs, such mistakes are not always medical malpractice. However, if a doctor’s treatment does not follow with the accepted standard of treatment, or shows a lack of skill and training, the patient may sue for medical malpractice. If you or a loved one think you have experienced medical malpractice in Bellevue, contact Greg Colburn. Our Bellevue medical malpractice attorneys will pursue your medical malpractice case with every resource available to us. Regardless of the nature of your injuries, we believe medical patients should receive the standard of care promised by a medical facility. We will work for you to ensure we settle your case fairly. Contact us to request a no-obligation consultation and discuss your next steps.

Why Choose Our Medical Malpractice Lawyers 

  • Over the years, Colburn Law has successfully settled personal injury and malpractice lawsuits numbering in the hundreds, securing compensation for our clients.
  • Our Bellevue injury lawyers have experienced personal injury situations ourselves; above all, we understand the setbacks and difficulties you are facing, and will meet at any location and at any time convenient to your recovery.
  • We will not charge you unless we win your case – as a result, all risk for pursuing your case rests on Colburn Law.

Pursuing medical malpractice litigation can be a lengthy, complicated process. Review of the physician’s actions usually requires expert testimony to define the standard of care as well as to determine whether the actions were in keeping with that standard. Additional review of your medical records will reveal whether the physician anticipated the outcome of his or her actions, and whether any negligence directly resulted in your injuries. Hiring a lawyer allows an experienced professional to handle the details of your case while you recover from your injuries.

Is Someone Liable for Your Damages?

To prove medical malpractice in the state of Washington, you must first prove that a doctor-patient relationship existed between you and the physician. If a doctor-patient relationship existed, the doctor must provide treatment within the accepted standard of care for the circumstances at the time of treatment. Your attorney must prove that the doctor was careless to the extent that he or she did not meet the standard of care. If carelessness led directly to your injuries, you must prove that the injuries caused you physical and financial damages. If that is proven, the doctor must compensate you for the damages incurred.

Types of Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is as diverse as the conditions that led to the patient’s hospitalization in the first place. However, several types of malpractice occur more frequently than others, including:

  • Misdiagnosis. If a physician inaccurately diagnoses your condition, you may incur injuries as the result of receiving the wrong treatments or missing the proper treatments that lessen the effects of your injuries or illness.
  • Surgical errors. Surgical errors can consist of a surgeon removing the wrong organ, not removing a diseased or damaged organ, or mistakes during the anesthesia or closing-up procedures.
  • Birth injuries. Medical malpractice injuries often result from childbirth issues, which harm the most fragile among us.
  • Medication and other errors. Errors in the proper prescribing of medications can result in patients erroneously taking the wrong medication or overdosing on the right one. Other negligence in dental practices, nursing homes, and other errors can lead to medical malpractice as well.

Washington Medical Malpractice Laws

If you are a victim of medical malpractice in Washington state, you have the right to hold the person responsible for your injuries accountable through a medical malpractice lawsuit. You can hold any medical professional who treated you in a professional capacity liable in your claim, including nurses, doctors, gynecologists, dentists, and even an entire hospital.

To file your lawsuit, you will need to undergo a mandatory mediation program before your case can proceed to trial. During this process, you and the at-fault party’s attorneys will meet to determine whether or not malpractice occurred. You may come to a settlement agreement during mediation; if you do not, your case will proceed to trial.

Depending on the circumstances of the malpractice, you can claim a number of different damages in your case, both economic and non-economic. Economic damages refer to your tangible financial losses as a result of the injury, while non-economic damages involve more emotional pain and suffering. Washington does not impose a limit on the amount of damages you can collect in a medical malpractice case.

However, Washington is a pure comparative negligence state, which could limit the amount of damages you can claim at the conclusion of the case. Under this system, the courts will determine whether or not you share a portion of the liability in your case. If you do, the court will reduce your settlement by your percentage of fault.

For example, say that you are filing a claim for misdiagnosis and the court finds you 40% at fault for not informing the doctor of a past condition that could have led to an accurate diagnosis. If your settlement is $50,000, the doctor will only have to pay $30,000 of it. Unlike some other states, you can still collect damages in your medical malpractice even if the courts find you responsible for 99% of your injuries.

Medical Malpractice versus Medical Negligence

To file your medical malpractice lawsuit, you first need to understand the difference between medical negligence and medical malpractice. While medical malpractice is the name for the specific type of harm that the professional causes to you, you will need to identify where medical negligence occurs to win your case.

  • Medical negligence refers to a doctor or other medical professional’s failure to exercise reasonable care to you as a patient. Another reasonably prudent professional in the same position would have exercised the proper amount of care under the same circumstances. In medical negligence, the harm is not intentional.
  • Medical malpractice is a specific type of medical negligence. In fact, medical malpractice lawsuits rely on proving that medical negligence occurred in order to prove that the professional was at-fault for your injuries. Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional fails to provide you with care up to a certain standard set by the medical field.

For example, say that you visit a doctor to discuss some symptoms that have you concerned about your health. Instead of examining your symptoms directly, the doctor notices that you are overweight and simply states that the symptoms would go away if you lost weight. You visit another doctor for a second opinion, and discover that you have cancer.

This would be an example of medical malpractice because the doctor failed to uphold the standard of care and provide you with an accurate diagnosis. Medical negligence appears because the doctor fails to examine your symptoms the same way that a reasonably prudent doctor would have under the same circumstances, instead relying on an unrelated weight loss aspect.

What Are the 4 D’s of Medical Negligence?

To prove a case of medical malpractice, you will need to prove that the medical professional you are filing your lawsuit against committed medical negligence. In order to prove medical negligence, you and your attorney will need to provide enough evidence to support the 4 D’s: duty, dereliction, damages, and direct cause.

  • Duty refers to the doctor’s duty of care to you as a patient. In order to hold a medical professional accountable in a lawsuit, you must have a formal professional-patient relationship. For example, you cannot file a lawsuit against a nurse friend for offering you advice outside of the workplace, but you can file a lawsuit against a doctor who treats you in the hospital. To prove duty of care, you will simply need to provide documentation that the professional in question treated you in a professional capacity.
  • Dereliction refers to a doctor’s deviation from the standard of care set by the healthcare industry. You will need to prove that the doctor or other medical professional acted in a way that a similarly-trained, reasonably prudent person in the same position would not have under the same circumstances. You may need to consult with medical experts to prove this element – at Colburn Law, we have access to a network of experts who can provide testimony in your case.
  • Once you establish dereliction, you will then need to prove direct cause. Direct cause states that the doctor’s actions directly led to the injuries or worsening condition that you suffered. For example, if a doctor misdiagnosed your cancer and your cancer worsened due to a lack of treatment, you will need to prove that you would not have suffered from these injuries if the doctor upheld the standard of care and provided an accurate diagnosis. You may need additional expert witnesses and medical records to prove this element.
  • Finally, you will need to prove that you can collect damages in your lawsuit as a result of the malpractice. You can claim both economic and non-economic damages in your lawsuit, such as medical expenses, a loss of quality of life, chronic pain, emotional anguish, lost wages, and disability. Depending on the type of damages you are claiming, you will need to provide evidence proving that you need them, such as medical bills.

Medical malpractice cases involve quite a bit of evidence in order to prove that negligence occurred. For example, you cannot claim damages for the illness or injury you originally went to the doctor for, and you will need to separate these two sets of damages. You will also need to prove that another medical professional could have diagnosed you correctly or provided adequate care under the same circumstances.

At Colburn Law, our attorneys have the experience and resources necessary to help you build a compelling medical malpractice lawsuit. We are familiar with the complexities of Washington medical malpractice law, and can guide you through the process from consultation to settlement.

Washington Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice

In the state of Washington, you will need to ensure that you file your lawsuit within the statute of limitations. All types of lawsuits are subject to these deadlines to encourage victims to come forward when their evidence is the freshest, which allows for a more streamlined process for all parties involved.

For medical malpractice cases, you have three years from the date of the malpractice to file your lawsuit. In some situations, you may not discover the injury or worsening condition until a long time after the initial negligence. In these situations, you must file your lawsuit within one year from the date of discovery of the injury in order to claim compensation.

Victims of medical malpractice who were minors at the time of the injury fall under a different statute of limitations than adult victims. If you or your child suffered an instance of medical malpractice while a minor, you have one year from the date of the child’s 18th birthday to file the lawsuit or the parents can file the lawsuit on the child’s behalf.

If your loved one died as a result of medical malpractice, your wrongful death lawsuit is also subject to a unique statute of limitations. Under Washington state law, you must file your wrongful death lawsuit within three years from the date of your loved one’s passing, regardless of the date that the malpractice took place.

For more information: What Is the Difference Between Wrongful Death and Medical Malpractice?