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Massachusetts Medical Malpractice Frequently Asked Questions

Law Offices of Stephen D. Walsh July 3, 2023

Whether you’ve received a misdiagnosis, delay in treatment, or experienced adverse drug reactions, you have the right to file a claim for medical malpractice.

Medical malpractice suits can be tricky to navigate, see the answers to frequently asked questions below.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

Patients have the right to expect a consistent standard level of care to be administered by health care providers.

When a medical professional fails to provide appropriate care resulting in harm, injury, or death to a patient, the patient or loved one can claim malpractice in a court of law.

Medical providers are legally required to administer a level of care consistent with standard practices. When a doctor deviates from care considered standard by other professionals under similar circumstances, they may be held liable.

In addition to a violation of standard care, a malpractice claim must also meet the following factors in order to be pursued legally.

Harm caused by negligence. Negligence alone is not enough to pursue a malpractice suit. Injury or harm must occur as a result of negligence for a medical malpractice claim to be valid. Negligence that does not cause harm or harm without negligence will not be considered for a medical malpractice claim.

Significant damaging consequences. Due to the expense of malpractice lawsuits, a case is only considered viable if substantial damages result from an injury caused by medical negligence. Damages such as loss of income, hardship, significant medical expenses, disability, or unusual pain must be shown in order to pursue a medical malpractice claim.

How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit?

Most states have a statute of limitations or a set time limit on when a lawsuit can be filed. Massachusetts statute of limitations requires a case to be filed within three years of when the malpractice occurred.

However, there are some exceptions.

Under the Discovery Rule, the three-year time limit does not start at the time of injury, but rather when it is reasonably discovered that medical care may have caused an injury.

Another exception is made for children under the age of six. Filing deadlines are extended until the child’s ninth birthday.

Regardless of these exceptions, Massachusetts law requires a medical malpractice claim to be filed in court within seven years following the alleged negligence. This is referred to as a Statute of Repose, which applies regardless of the discovery date or patient’s age.

How Long Will My Case Take?

Medical malpractice cases are often more complex than the average personal injury case. They require the involvement of medical experts across several medical specialties. Some cases settle out of court through direct negotiations or mediation. However, if a settlement is not reached, it can take up to three years to be presented to a judge or jury.

How Much In Damages Can I Recover?

Many factors contribute to the final settlement value of a case. The severity and length of an injury, the type of medical treatment involved, past and future medical expenses, and the extent of disability or physical impairment are all considered when determining the value awarded.

There are two types of damages that can be recovered, compensatory and punitive.

Compensatory damages include both economic and non-economic damages. For example, lost earning capacity and medical expenses, as well as emotional distress and physical harm.

Punitive damages are less common and are only awarded as a form of punishment if the medical professional is found guilty of malicious or willful misconduct.

Do I Need A Personal Injury Attorney?

Medical negligence can take many forms, such as misdiagnosis, delays in diagnosis and failure to diagnose, surgical mistakes, treatment delays, adverse drug reactions, and anesthesia errors.

Medical malpractice lawsuits can be costly, time-consuming, and stressful. Anyone contemplating the pursuit of a malpractice case should consider all pros and cons before taking action.

Due to the complexity of medical malpractice lawsuits having an experienced attorney to represent your best interest can provide comfort during this stressful situation. You need someone by your side who can explain the filing and claims process and prepare you for each step of your medical malpractice lawsuit. If you are considering a medical malpractice claim, call our office for a free case evaluation and to learn your options.