Thousands of Americans get sick or die in hospitals every year, but most cases do not qualify as medical malpractice. To prove negligence, victims must prove that the doctor or hospital violated their “duty of care.”
Every physician has a duty to act responsibly towards all patients undergoing treatment. If a doctor violates that “duty of care” and injures a patient, he or she can be sued for medical malpractice. Signs of possible negligence can include:
- Missed or late diagnosis
- Surgical errors
- Medication errors
- Failure to warn patient of known risk
- Failure to obtain consent
How Do I File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
In South Carolina, the first step to filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is finding a medical expert to support the claim of negligence or duty violation. Medical experts are usually from out of state to avoid conflicts of interest, and must be in the same field or specialty as the accused physician.
Once the negligence is established, both parties must attend pre-trial mediation to see if they can reach a settlement outside of court. If the mediation fails, the lawsuit will proceed.
South Carolina generally allows medical malpractice victims to file lawsuits for three years after the event, although the statute of limitations can be as short as two years for malpractice committed by physicians or healthcare staff that are government employees. The statute of limitations can sometimes be extended by employing the “discovery rule” which, if applicable, may extend the time for filing suit in situations where the patient did no know or have reason to know of the existence of a claim for some period of time after the medical care was provided. For example if a surgical instrument is negligently left in the patient’s body, but the patient does not learn that it is there until having an x-ray a year later, the discovery rule would likely apply to start the statute of limitations running at the point that the patient found out about the retained instrument.
The process may seem daunting, but the right lawyer can help you make the best choices for your case. Medical malpractice attorneys can put patients in touch with important resources, and provide valuable information to help clients build the strongest case possible.
Proffitt & Cox attorneys have over 30 years of total experience representing medical malpractice victims, so we know how to fight for you. Call today for a free consultation. Our experience could make a crucial difference in your case.
Proffitt & Cox, LLP – Columbia Injury Lawyer