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Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Memphis, TN

Helping injured victims and families recover compensation for medical negligence

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Were you or a loved one a victim of medical negligence?

You may be entitled to compensation and financial justice.
Our award-winning law firm has represented Tennessee families for over 40 years.

Memphis has long been considered a national hub of the healthcare industry, ever since the University of Tennessee medical college—now the University of Tennessee Health Science Center—was founded in 1911. And this industry has boomed ever since.

In addition to UTHSC, Memphis is home to numerous nationally recognized hospitals and medical facilities ranging from trauma care to long-term treatment to orthopedics—including:

  • St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
  • Baptist Memorial Hospital
  • Memphis VA Medical Center
  • Le Bonheur Children's Hospital
  • Memphis Mental Health Institute
  • Regional Medical Center (Regional One Health)
  • Saint Francis Hospital
  • Methodist University Hospital

What's more, Memphis is home to nearly 50 medical device and life sciences companies like Medtronic, Smith & Nephew, Microport, Wright Medical Group and Olympus. While many patients receive life-saving medical care and treatment from one of the many healthcare providers and facilities in Memphis and Shelby County, the reality is that doctors are human too—meaning they make mistakes and errors.

Healthcare providers know this, which is why they pay insurance companies steep premiums to protect them from being held personally liable for professional malpractice.

These medical malpractice insurers—along with the medical providers who pay them—have deep pockets and seemingly endless resources to contest negligence claims. They also know how to employ aggressive and underhanded tactics to pressure patients into settling for far less than their case is actually worth. For this reason, it's vital you speak with a knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney near you before agreeing to a settlement offer or giving up on recovering the compensation you are entitled to receive.

At Gilreath & Associates, we believe that holding negligent doctors and healthcare facilities accountable not only helps ensure that justice is served for our clients, but also helps prevent future patients from suffering the same fate.

Our Memphis birth trauma attorneys have decades of experience, and we aren't afraid to take on major healthcare organizations and malpractice insurance companies with deep pockets to dispute your claim. Our law firm wants to give you and your family a fighting chance at justice and compensation for medical negligence.

Medical malpractice is a much bigger problem than doctors and insurance companies like to admit.

Contact our Memphis medical malpractice lawyers to discuss your legal options and seek justice in your case.

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What is Medical Malpractice?

“Malpractice” is defined as “improper, illegal, or negligent professional activity or treatment, especially by a medical practitioner, lawyer, or public official.” While malpractice can apply to various professions, it's most commonly applied to negligent medical providers such as doctors, nurses and surgeons, as well as medical facilities like hospitals, clinics and doctor's offices.

Simply put:

Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider deviates from the reasonable and acceptable standard of care when treating a patient.

It's important to understand that a healthcare provider's actions (or inaction) must meet a certain threshold of negligence in order to be considered malpractice. Just because a doctor failed to diagnose a health condition or prescribed a treatment that caused ill effects doesn't automatically mean that malpractice occurred. Rather, the doctor must have failed to act in a way that other medical professionals reasonably would have, and that failure resulted in measurable physical, emotional or financial harm to the patient.

Here are some of the most common examples of actions that might constitute medical malpractice:

  • Injuries during childbirth
  • Surgical errors or operating on the wrong body part
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Failing to diagnose a condition or delayed diagnosis
  • Misreading or neglecting lab results
  • Prescribing the wrong medication or dosage
  • Lack of proper follow-up care and treatment
  • Failing to consider a patient's medical history
  • Improper testing or failing to test
  • Anesthesia error
  • Hospital infections

Memphis Medical Malpractice Statistics

“Do no harm.”

That is one of the principal promises in the Hippocratic Oath that most medical students must make upon becoming a doctor.

Unfortunately, the reality is that some doctors break this Oath and fail to provide a reasonable duty of care to their patients.

How common is medical malpractice?

Here are some shocking statistics about the problem of medical malpractice in Memphis, in Tennessee and across the country that may surprise you:

  • More than 250,000 people in the U.S. die every year because of medical mistakes, making it the third-leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer.

  • In 2020, there were 421 medical malpractice claims filed in the state of Tennessee.

  • An estimated 195,000 patients die in hospitals each year because of preventable mistakes.

  • The average payout for a medical malpractice claim from 2009-2018 was approximately $309,908.

  • Ninety-nine percent of physicians face at least one lawsuit by age 65.

  • The average physician spends more than 10 percent of their career dealing with malpractice litigation.

  • Since 2009, a total of $38.5 billion has been paid out to victims of medical malpractice.

  • The vast majority of medical malpractice reports are filed against medical doctors and physicians (MDs), followed by dentists.

  • Although some medical malpractice cases involve minor injuries, 80 percent of cases are related to severe patient injuries or deaths.

  • Only approximately 2 percent of those suffering from medical malpractice file claims for compensation, suggesting that the problem is vastly underreported.

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Medical Malpractice Deaths - 17 Years of Statistics


Our Past Verdicts & Settlements

Medical Malpractice FAQ:
Common questions and answers about medical negligence

How do I file a medical malpractice lawsuit?

Tennessee has strict requirements and rules for filing a medical malpractice claim that make these complex cases different from other personal injury claims. It's important to know about these special rules or else your claim for compensation can be denied outright “without prejudice.” This type of dismissal means that you would be prevented from filing the same claim again in the future, even if you meet the requirement later, so it's crucial to get it right the first time.

For starters, medical malpractice plaintiffs or their attorneys must file an affidavit of merit requirement—also known as the "certificate of good faith"—within 90 days of filing a medical negligence claim. This affidavit confirms that the plaintiff or their legal representative has consulted at least 1 expert witness about the case who is willing to go on the record (in a written statement) that there is convincing evidence supporting the claim.

Often, the expert witness is another doctor who practices the same or a similar medical specialty. Tennessee has strict rules about who is qualified to testify as an expert witness in a medical malpractice case. The medical expert must be licensed to practice in Tennessee or a bordering state (Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Missouri). The expert also must be licensed in a specialty that is relevant to the case, and have practiced in that specialty for at least 1 year prior to the date of the injury.

What is the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice claim?

As with all personal injury cases, victims of medical malpractice and their loved ones have a limited time period in which to file a claim with the appropriate Tennessee court. Tennessee's statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits is 1 year from the date the injury is discovered, but no more than 3 years after the date the injury actually occurred.

There are few exceptions to this legal deadline. One rare exception is in cases where a foreign object is left inside a patient's body during a procedure, such as a medical instrument. There are also exceptions for patients who were minors (younger than 18) or “of unsound mind” at the time of the injury.

To determine whether or not the statute of limitations has expired on your medical malpractice case, consult an experienced attorney near you as soon as possible.

Is there a cap on medical malpractice awards?

Yes, the state of Tennessee places a “cap”— or limit—on most medical malpractice awards and settlements. The maximum compensation for non-economic damages is $750,000 per claim for most medical malpractice cases. Non-economic damages include payment for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment or quality of life and similar damages. There is no cap on economic damages for things like medical bills and lost wages.

One of the few exceptions to this damage cap is when medical malpractice cases involve “catastrophic” injuries, which Tennessee defines as:

  • Spinal cord injuries resulting in paraplegia or quadriplegia
  • Loss of 2 hands, 2 feet or 1 of each (amputation)
  • Third-degree burns covering at least 40 percent of the body or face
  • Wrongful death of a parent of a minor child or children

In catastrophic injury cases, medical malpractice victims can seek up to $1 million in non-economic damages.

Lastly, it's important to note that Tennessee's medical malpractice cap on non-economic damages does not apply if the defendant (doctor) intentionally inflicted harm, lied, destroyed evidence or was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the injury.

What are my odds of winning a medical malpractice lawsuit?

The likelihood of a case succeeding depends, in large part, on the strength of the evidence presented and expert witness testimony. That said, overall industry statistics show that medical providers and their malpractice insurance companies tend to have higher rates of success—no doubt due to the financial resources these groups have to pressure plaintiffs into accepting a lowball settlement or drop their case entirely.

In fact, a vast majority of medical malpractice cases are dropped, dismissed or settled before trial—as much as 90 percent according to some estimates. Only a fraction of cases filed actually go to trial before a jury.

By hiring an experienced and knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney, you can drastically increase your chances of securing a more favorable outcome.

How can I prove medical malpractice?

In order to get compensation for medical negligence, first you have to establish healthcare liability—in other words, prove that the doctor or medical provider was negligent and is responsible for your injury. Some folks refer to this burden of proof as the 4 D's of medical negligence:

  • Duty. If a doctor/patient relationship was established, then the medical provider owed the patient a standard of care—or a legal obligation to deliver reasonably competent care and treatment. Typically, this step is easy to prove since it's clear if a doctor/patient relationship was established.
  • Dereliction. Proving that the medical provider breached the appropriate standard of care is more challenging. Dereliction (breach) of duty occurs when the medical provider failed to act how a reasonable professional in their same field would have acted in the same circumstances.
  • Direct cause. Once you've proved that a medical provider breached the acceptable standard of care, you have to establish a direct causal link between the dereliction of duty and the harm you suffered. This is typically accomplished by bringing in evidence and expert witnesses.
  • Damages. Lastly, you must prove that you suffered actual damages from the medical provider's negligence. It's not sufficient that the doctor behaved negligently; if you weren't harmed, there's no case. However, if you were harmed physically, emotionally or financially as a result of the medical provider's negligence, then you may have a strong case.

When to Talk to a Memphis Medical Malpractice Attorney

Most folks trust their doctors to look after their health and well-being, so it can be shocking to realize that medical providers are humans that make mistakes too. This shock is quickly followed by outrage when a negligent doctor refuses to accept responsibility for their actions and instead leaves you struggling to pick up the pieces.

Don't let doctors, hospitals or their insurance companies gaslight you by making you feel crazy for blaming a medical provider for your ongoing health conditions. Medical malpractice is a very real problem that is far more common than the healthcare industry likes to admit. What's more, don't be intimidated or pressured into accepting less than you deserve.

By hiring an experienced and professional attorney to represent you, you can even the playing field and turn the odds of winning in your favor. From our law office in the heart of downtown Memphis on Jefferson Ave., we serve people in West Tennessee and across the southeast by securing the best possible outcome in their medical malpractice cases. When you're ready to learn more about how we can help you, we invite you to reach out.

Ready to discuss your case?
Contact our Tennessee personal injury attorneys today for your free consultation.

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Tennessee Personal Injury Lawyers at Gilreath & Associates offer free and personal consultation to help you evaluate your legal options.
Our attorneys are dedicated to helping you recover financially from an injury stemming from someone else's negligence.