Boston Medical Malpractice Lawyer
We rely on doctors and other medical professionals to help us when we are injured and sick. When we meet with a physician, we are especially vulnerable and often rely on their knowledge and expertise to recover from our illnesses and injuries. However, even medical professionals make mistakes, and those mistakes can come at a huge cost to patients. People who have been harmed by the malpractice of a medical professional may file a lawsuit to claim damages and compensation. to be successful, you will need to prove your doctor’s actions amounted to malpractice. You must also meet very specific deadlines.
Malpractice cases are not always easy to prove. Doctors and other medical professionals must be able to do what they believe is best for their patients without being distracted by the potential legal consequences. Sometimes, the treatment that a doctor thinks is the best course of action at the time turns out to be a mistake. These kinds of mistakes do not amount to malpractice. to be malpractice, the medical professional’s mistakes must amount to negligence.
If you believe you were injured as a result of a medical professional’s malpractice, you may want to consider filing a lawsuit to recover damages for your injuries. Contact our Boston medical malpractice lawyers for assistance. Call the Law Office of John J. Sheehan at (617) 925-6407 to schedule a free, confidential legal consultation about your case.
Major Hospitals in Boston
Boston is home to some of the best hospitals and physicians in the world. Numerous patients are healed each day in these hospitals. Unfortunately, medical malpractice still occurs. Our Boston medical malpractice lawyers can assist any individuals who were injured because of medical malpractice at the following hospitals.
- Massachusetts General Hospital
55 Fruit Street
Boston, MA, 02114
- Brigham & Women’s Hospital
75 Francis Street
Boston, MA, 02115
- Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA, 02215
- Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
450 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA, 02215
- New England Baptist Hospital
125 Parker Hill Avenue
Boston, MA, 02120
- Tufts Medical Center
800 Washington Street
Boston, MA, 02111
- Boston Children’s Hospital
300 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA, 02115
- Lahey Hospital & Medical Center
41 Mall Road
Burlington, MA, 01805
- CHA Cambridge Hospital
1493 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA, 02139
However, these are not the only hospitals our lawyers can handle cases from. Furthermore, medical malpractice may also occur at clinics and other professional facilities aside from hospitals. Patients who have suffered an injury because of medical malpractice from any healthcare professional can call our Boston medical malpractice lawyers to assess the validity of their case.
Who Determines Negligence in a Boston Medical Malpractice Case?
Under Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 231 § 60B, whenever a medical malpractice lawsuit is filed, the plaintiff is tasked with presenting an “offer of proof” to a special tribunal within 15 days of the defendant’s filed response to the lawsuit.
This three-person panel is responsible for deciding whether the injured plaintiff’s evidence is sufficient to determine that the defendant’s health care provider was negligent in providing medical care to the plaintiff. Generally, the panel consists of:
- A justice of the Massachusetts superior court
- A licensed physician who practices medicine in the same field as the defendant
- A licensed attorney
In making the determination, the tribunal may consider all relevant medical records, statements, test results, and relevant medical information from qualified medical experts. If the tribunal finds sufficient evidence, the case can proceed to court like any other civil lawsuit.
On the other hand, if the tribunal discovers that the plaintiff has not established substantial evidence of liability, the lawsuit can only continue if the plaintiff files a predetermined bond with the court clerk to cover the legal fees of the defendant if the plaintiff’s lawsuit was not successful. If this bond is not posted within 30 days of the tribunal’s decision, the medical malpractice lawsuit may be dismissed.
Elements of Negligence in a Boston Medical Malpractice Case
If you can demonstrate to the tribunal that you have substantial evidence of liability, you may continue your lawsuit like any other civil case. Medical malpractice cases, however, involve more than simply proving your doctor or other medical professional made a mistake. Instead, you must prove the mistake was the result of your doctor’s negligence. Mistakes made from a medical professional’s best judgment are not usually grounds for a lawsuit. However, mistakes made from negligence are not shielded from liability.
A medical malpractice suit is based on negligence, and negligence involves four crucial elements. to prove negligence, a plaintiff must show that the defendant owed a duty of care, breached that duty of care, that the breach caused the plaintiff’s injuries, and the injuries are factual and not hypothetical. These elements sound somewhat simple, but proving them may be difficult. Medical malpractice cases can vary greatly from case to case depending on the plaintiff’s medical condition and the type of medical treatment they received.
Proving the first element means proving that you were owed a duty of care by the defendant. Medical professionals owe their patients a duty of care as part of their jobs; it is inherent to the medical profession. Proving that the defendant breached their duty is sometimes tricky. How duty is breached will depend on the treatment you received. For example, the duty of care owed during surgery is different than the duty owed during a routine physical exam.
Common examples of a breach of a duty of care by a medical professional might include leaving surgical equipment inside a patient’s body, prescribing the wrong medication or the wrong dosage, or failing to take any treatment actions when they are clearly needed.
Insurance companies will use the vast resources at their disposal to discount a victim’s negligence claims. Defendants may hire their own lawyers, doctors, and private investigators to dispute evidence of medical malpractice. However, our lawyers can fight the insurance company and gather evidence for your case. For help assessing your injuries and collecting evidence for your lawsuit, contact our Boston medical malpractice attorneys.
Who Can You Sue for Medical Malpractice in Boston?
When filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, one of the earliest decisions you will have to make is who your defendant is. There are numerous parties involved in a patient’s medical treatment, and responsibility for malpractice may lie with one or more of them. You could sue a single doctor in charge of your medical care, the entire hospital, or both. Our Boston medical malpractice attorneys can discuss your case with you and determine who the most appropriate defendants are in your case.
Obviously, a patient who suffered negligent medical care will want to sue the doctor who provided that negligent care. As the person in charge of overseeing your medical care, your doctor is probably the first defendant we should consider when filing a malpractice lawsuit. Your negligent medical care will have likely occurred either at your doctor’s hands or at least at their direction.
Depending on your case, it may be possible to sue nurses and other medical professionals who assisted with your medical treatment. This might be more appropriate in cases where a nurse acted independently of your doctor’s instructions or otherwise played a larger role in your negligent medical care. More often than not, nurses follow doctors’ orders and bear somewhat less responsibility when it comes to malpractice.
It is crucial that we include the hospital or doctor’s office in your lawsuit. First, the institution where you received medical treatment is responsible for hiring competent, qualified doctors and ensuring their patients receive adequate care. Second, the institution is likely more able to pay for your damages than an individual medical professional.
Consult with our Boston medical malpractice lawyers about your case. We can determine who should be named in your lawsuit and the overall extent of your damages and injuries.
Can I Receive Compensation if I am Partially Responsible for My Own Medical Injuries in Boston?
In some cases, a patient may be partially to blame for the extent of their own injuries, even though a medical professional’s malpractice caused the injury to begin with. In such cases, the defendant in a medical malpractice suit may argue a comparative negligence theory. If you are found comparatively negligent, your damages will be reduced in proportion to your own negligence.
According to Mass. Gen. Laws. Ch. 231 § 85, if a plaintiff is found to be at greater fault for their injuries than the defendant, they are barred from recovery. This means if you are more than 50% to blame for your injuries, you cannot sue for medical malpractice.
An example of a patient who is partially responsible for their own injuries would be a patient who did not follow aftercare instructions provided by their doctor. If a patient is instructed to stay on bed rest following a medical procedure, but instead goes on a strenuous hiking trip, they may be partially to blame for their injuries. If your own actions predominantly caused your injuries, you may not be able to recover any damages. Speak with our Boston medical malpractice attorneys for more information.
Damages Available for Medical Malpractice in Boston
Your injuries obviously include how you were harmed from the defendant’s malpractice. Common injuries include physical impairments or damage and any pain and suffering. You may also include injuries that you did not physically suffer but were still affected by.
For example, if you were in so much pain that you could no longer work, you may include lost wages among your injuries. If you do not think you will ever be able to work again as a result of the malpractice, you could also include future lost earnings as part of your injuries. Speak with our Boston medical malpractice attorneys to determine the extent of your injuries for a lawsuit.
Your damages refer to the compensation you are seeking for your injuries. In most medical malpractice cases, damages are monetary. Damages may include compensatory damages for medical malpractice suits, but almost never punitive damages. There may also be limits on the amount of money you can be awarded if you win. Mass. Gen. Laws. Ch. 231 §60H governs the damage limits for medical malpractice cases in Boston. General damages, like pain and suffering or embarrassment, are capped at $500,000 unless there is a significant permanent loss or disfigurement.
Punitive damages, or those designed to punish defendants, are not awarded in any cases that do not involve wrongful death. If you are suing for your own damages and injuries from medical malpractice, you will not be able to claim punitive damages. However, if you are suing for the wrongful death of a loved one as a result of medical malpractice, punitive damages may be on the table. Talk to our Boston medical malpractice attorneys about what kinds of damages are available in your case.
Examples of Medical Malpractice in Boston
Malpractice could occur in any kind of medical treatment. The key to distinguishing malpractice from other medical mistakes is that malpractice involves negligence. a negligent doctor is one who reasonably should have known better than to treat their patient in a particular way. a medical decision that later turns out to be a mistake is not necessarily malpractice.
Accordingly, medical malpractice can come in many forms. Our Boston medical malpractice lawyers can assist any individual who was injured because of a healthcare professional’s negligence. However, understanding common categories of medical malpractice will help victims evaluate their own claim. The following are types of medical malpractice cases our lawyers commonly handle in Boston:
Misdiagnosis or Failure to Diagnose
Misdiagnosis is a common issue in medical malpractice cases. a misdiagnosis occurs when doctors believe that a patient’s medical condition is something that it is not. A healthcare professional’s misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose must cause injury through improper medical care, delayed treatment, or lack of treatment to be considered medical malpractice. Confusing one disease or disorder for another is not that unusual but may amount to negligence if the doctor who diagnosed you should have known better.
Therefore, doctors could be liable for malpractice if they ignored the signs and symptoms of a patient’s illness. For example, suppose a patient continually complains of severe headaches but their doctor brushes it off as insignificant. In that case, that doctor could be liable for malpractice if the patient was actually suffering from a brain tumor the entire time. Similarly, providing medical care that is improper or inadequate because of a misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose could also lead to a malpractice case.
Another common example of medical malpractice is surgery gone wrong. Surgery is inherently risky, and doctors must make their patients aware of that fact. When surgery is performed incorrectly, the surgeon may be liable for malpractice. Even if the surgery is performed correctly, there may be other issues or mistakes. For example, if a doctor accidentally leaves medical tools inside a patient during a surgery, they may be liable for malpractice. Surgical errors that constitute medical malpractice can range from failing to provide post-operative care to operating on the wrong body part.
It may constitute medical malpractice if a doctor has mistakenly prescribed harmful medication to a patient. For example, a doctor may forget to check a patient’s allergies before prescribing medication. In this scenario, the doctor may be liable for medical malpractice if the patient is injured because they were allergic to the prescribed medication. Patients who have been injured because of medication errors may consult with our Boston medical malpractice lawyers to assess their potential claim.
Lack of Informed Consent
Healthcare professionals in Boston have a duty to warn patients of the risks associated with any treatment or procedure. A patient’s understanding of those risks is referred to as their informed consent. Without informed consent, patients may agree to harmful procedures they would not otherwise have agreed to.
Specifically, doctors must disclose all potential benefits, risks, and alternatives for treatment involved in any medical procedure, surgical procedure, or other course of treatment with their patient. The following are the three main components to informed consent:
- A disclosure informing the patient of all risks, benefits, and alternatives for treatment
- An understanding of the disclosure by the patient
- A waiver or acknowledgement executed by the patient
Accordingly, patients may have a valid claim for medical malpractice if they were injured because a healthcare professional failed to warn them of risks associated with a particular treatment or procedure. Our Boston medical malpractice lawyers can help victims establish if they were injured because their doctor failed to provide informed consent.
Birth injuries can be a form of medical malpractice where a baby is injured during delivery because of a healthcare professional’s negligence. Medical malpractice lawsuits stemming from birth injuries are especially distressful. Our Boston medical malpractice lawyers can help ease a family’s stress by taking responsibility for their case.
There are three general types of birth-related medical malpractice cases. The first involves injuries to baby. If the child has been injured during the course of delivery because of a doctor’s negligence, the family can typically hold the doctor responsible.
The second type is referred to as wrongful birth. In a medical malpractice lawsuit stemming from wrongful birth, parents will claim that negligent treatment deprived them of an opportunity to avoid conception or terminate pregnancy. In other words, the parents will claim the doctor failed to warn of the risks associated with having a child with genetic conditions or risks that should have been identified. Damages in a wrongful birth action include the cost of raising an unexpectedly sick child.
Lastly, parents may bring a medical malpractice claim for a wrongful pregnancy. A wrongful pregnancy claim involves a physician that acted negligently in performing a sterilization or abortion procedure. Victims may bring a claim for medical malpractice if they experienced an unwanted pregnancy because of a physician’s negligence. Furthermore, pharmacists or pharmaceutical manufacturers may also be liable for wrongful pregnancy resulting from defective contraceptives.
Another form of medical malpractice in Boston involves anesthesia errors. Anesthesia errors occur when a mistake is made before, during, or after a patient is administered anesthesia. The consequences for victims to anesthesia errors will vary depending on the type of mistake made and the ensuing response by medical professionals. The following are common causes of anesthesia errors that can be considered medical malpractice:
- Anesthesia dosage errors
- Delayed delivery of anesthesia
- Prolonged sedation
- Faulty equipment
- Failure to inform a patient of instructions before or after the procedure
- Failure to intubate
- Failure to respond to anesthesia complications
- Failure to monitor the patient’s vitals
However, these are not the only forms of anesthesia error that may occur over the course of a surgical procedure. Our Boston medical malpractice lawyers can help you determine if you have a claim for medical malpractice because of an anesthesia error.
If you believe you suffered harm or injury because your doctor provided negligent medical care, call our offices for help. Our Boston medical malpractice attorneys can help you file a lawsuit to claim compensation for your pain and suffering.
What is the Deadline for Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim in Boston?
Massachusetts established specific deadlines for filing medical malpractice claims under Mass. Gen. Laws. Ch. 260 §4. These deadlines are called statutes of limitations. The standard deadline for medical malpractice cases in Boston gives injured plaintiffs three years to file a lawsuit in civil court after the malpractice occurred. If no medical malpractice lawsuit has been filed after the three-year deadline, victims may lose the right to sue the healthcare provider.
However, in cases where the victim could not reasonably have learned that they had a medical malpractice case, the discovery rule may apply. The discovery rule states that if the injured person had no previous knowledge about the alleged malpractice, the lawsuit may be commenced three years from the date that the injured person “discovered” that medical malpractice may have been involved.
The statute of repose imposes a final deadline to medical malpractice lawsuits, regardless of when the victim discovered it. Under the statute of response established in Massachusetts, a medical malpractice lawsuit may not be filed more than seven years after the alleged malpractice, except in cases where a foreign object is found in the body.
What is the Process for Recovering Financial Compensation in a Medical Malpractice Case in Boston?
The path to financial compensation in a medical malpractice lawsuit can vary depending on several factors. However, each case will follow the same general process. Our Boston medical malpractice lawyers can provide guidance and support throughout each of the following stages of your case:
Reviewing Your Case
The first step for recovering compensation in a medical malpractice case involves evaluating the strength of your claim. As previously discussed, there are four essential elements that must be established in every medical malpractice lawsuit:
- The defendant healthcare provider owed you a duty to act in accordance with the applicable standard of care against which their conduct is measured, such as the duty to offer informed consent or the duty to provide post-operative care.
- The defendant did not adhere to their duty of care
- You were injured because of the defendant’s breach of duty
- You suffered damages because of the injuries you sustained
During your free case review, our attorneys can help determine if the necessary elements have been satisfied.
The next step toward recovering compensation in a medical malpractice case involves gathering evidence to support your claim. There are several different types of evidence that are often used. For example, the following forms of evidence are regularly utilized by our Boston medical malpractice lawyers:
- Statements from experts
- Medical bills
- Doctor’s notes
- Examination results
- Nurse’s notes
- Surveillance footage
- Witness statements
- Treatment plans
- Discharge papers
- Personal recollections
Unfortunately, parties in control of pertinent evidence may be reluctant to cooperate with plaintiffs. The assistance of our attorneys can be very valuable when seeking to recover the aforementioned evidence in your case. Furthermore, our team can help preserve evidence so that it can be effectively used during settlement negotiations and at trial.
Filing Your Case
After reviewing your case and gathering evidence, you must bring your case to court. According to Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 260, §4, you will usually have three years from the date your medical malpractice occurred to file your case. Failure to comply with this deadline could cause you to miss out on important compensation. However, under certain circumstances, your time limit may be extended. Our Boston medical malpractice lawyers can help explain how the statute of limitations will apply to your claim during your free case assessment.
There are many other conditions that must be satisfied when bringing your claim to court. For example, plaintiffs must file their claims in the correct jurisdictions, pay any required filing fees, attach necessary supporting documents, serve all named defendants, and avoid filing incomplete claims. Our attorneys can help ensure you comply with the numerous requirements for filing your case.
Presenting an “Offer of Proof”
Furthermore, under Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 231, §60B, you must file an “offer of proof” to a special three-person tribunal within 15 days of the defendant’s response to your medical malpractice lawsuit. Your offer of proof must present evidence that is enough to raise a legitimate question of whether the defendant acted negligently when providing your medical care. If the tribunal agrees that the evidence suggests the defendant may have committed medical malpractice, then your lawsuit will go to court just like any other civil case. The tribunal will be made up of the following:
- A Massachusetts superior court justice
- A licensed doctor who practices in the same field as the defendant
- A lawyer licensed to practice law in Massachusetts
If the tribunal in your case decides that you have not presented enough evidence to raise a legitimate question of fault, then you may only proceed with your lawsuit if you file a $6,000 bond with the clerk of court. This money will serve to cover the defendant’s attorney’s fees if your case does not prevail. Our Boston medical malpractice lawyers can help submit a convincing offer of proof in your case.
Negotiating for Fair Compensation
The next step in your medical malpractice lawsuit involves negotiating for fair compensation. Many defendants will attempt to resolve their cases early by making settlement offers to plaintiffs. Our attorneys can help negotiate for more lucrative settlement offers and identify offers that are inadequate.
Presenting Your Case at Trial
Lastly, if a settlement agreement cannot be reached, our experienced Boston medical malpractice lawyers can help present your case at trial. There are several categories of monetary damages that may be sought. Our team can lean on years of experience when fighting for the full range of compensation available to you.
Settling a Medical Malpractice Case vs. Taking a Medical Malpractice Case to Trial in Boston
In most medical malpractice lawsuits, plaintiffs must choose between settling their cases early or going to trial. After the parties to a lawsuit reach a settlement agreement, the defendant will pay a specific sum of damages to the plaintiff and their case will be dismissed. There may be several advantages to settling early. Plaintiffs who reach settlement agreements may receive compensation sooner. Additionally, parties who settle early can save on several expenses that may be incurred at trial. For instance, if you take your lawsuit to trial, you may have to pay extra attorney’s fees, administrative costs, and witness fees.
Still, many defendants approach plaintiffs with settlement offers that do not reflect the true value of their claims. Defendants and their insurance companies often wish to settle cases cheaply and quickly. By going to trial, plaintiffs may be able to recover additional damages that were not offered during settlement negotiations. Our experienced Boston medical malpractice lawyers can help assess any settlement offers made in your case, so that you will know if going to trial is the best choice for you.
How Long Does a Medical Malpractice Case Take to Settle?
The amount of time it takes to settle a medical malpractice lawsuit will vary from case to case. it will also depend on the outcome of any settlement negotiations. Especially complex cases involving severe injuries or that rely on multiple experts will undoubtedly take longer to settle. In the end, settlement negotiations may fall apart, and you will have to argue your case in a trial.
Settlement talks tend to happen rather quickly with medical malpractice lawsuits. Hospitals and other institutions of medicine tend to have deep pockets. If a settlement would be less costly than a trial, a defendant may be more inclined to settle quickly. However, expensive cases or those with frivolous claims may be more vigorously challenged by the defendant.
The time it takes to settle will also depend on your supporting evidence. If you have a strong case and evidence to back up your claims of malpractice, your defendant may want to settle instead of losing in court. a stronger case may result in a faster settlement, but a weak case may lead to drawn-out negotiations that could fall apart in the end.
To discuss the potential for a settlement agreement in your case, speak to our Boston medical malpractice attorneys as soon as possible.
What if You Can’t Afford Your Attorney’s Fees for Your Medical Malpractice Case in Boston?
Many patients injured because of medical malpractice question how they will afford attorney’s fees in their cases. Fortunately, our Boston medical malpractice lawyers are permitted to work on what is referred to as a “contingency fee” pay structure. This means that our attorneys will not charge you anything unless we successfully recover compensation. During your free case review, our team can further explain how your attorney’s fees will be handled.
Consult with a Boston Medical Malpractice Attorney Today
Medical malpractice cases can come in many forms from many different types of cases. If you were injured by a negligent medical professional, you may want to seek legal representation from a skilled Boston medical malpractice lawyer who could fight to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. to learn more, call the Boston personal injury lawyers at the Law Office at John J. Sheehan today at (617) 925-6407.