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Medical Malpractice

What is medical malpractice in Tennessee?

Medical malpractice is the failure of a health care provider to act in accordance with acceptable professional practice, which causes a patient an injury. Medical malpractice is another name for medical negligence. Click here to read a review of recent decisions affecting medical malpractice lawyers (from The Tennessee Trial Lawyer) by Richard L. Duncan.

Who can commit medical malpractice?

Any type of health care provider can commit medical malpractice. The medical malpractice lawyers from our offices Tennessee are experienced in negligence cases including hospitals, nursing homes, emergency clinics, walk-in clinics, doctors, nurses, nurse's aides, physical therapists, pharmacists, psychologists, chiropractors, and podiatrists.

A Bad Result is not enough To Have a Medical Malpractice Case.

Under state law, you must prove the following with enough evidence to win a medical malpractice lawsuit in Tennessee:

First, what is the standard of care in the profession and specialty of the defendant (the person or entity sued) in the community or in a similar community?

Then prove,

  1. That the defendant failed to comply with that standard ("breach" of the standard of care).
  2. That the plaintiff was injured as a proximate result (legal result) of the breach of the standard ("proximate cause" and "injury"), which injury would not have otherwise occurred. The negligence must be "a" proximate cause of injury; but it does not have to be the "only" cause. All of the above need only be proved to a 51 percent likelihood.

Because of the complexity of medical malpractice cases in Tennessee and elsewhere, we recommend contacting one of our knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyers in Tennessee for a free consultation.

How do you prove the standard of care?

Standard of care must usually, be proved by a witness in a relevant profession or specialty, who has practiced in Tennessee or a contiguous state within the one year prior to the alleged injury or wrongful act ("the expert witness"). It is very difficult to find a competent respected expert who will testify for the plaintiff, and to do so costs thousands of dollars. An expert is usually needed to prove proximate cause as well. Tennessee doctors almost never testify that another doctor has committed medical malpractice. Like members of most professions, doctors are reluctant to testify that another doctor committed medical malpractice. Our professional medical malpractice lawyers at our offices in Tennessee will guide you through this process.

What is informed consent?

A physician must follow the standard of care in giving you information prior to performing treatment on you. In Tennessee, the standard is determined by what information a reasonable doctor would give the patient, not what information a patient thinks is important. Usually, you must sign a form indicating your consent prior to anesthesia and surgical procedures. Consent to perform surgery is not consent to perform surgery negligently. A patient consents only to the risks that occur when the physician is doing what he/she is supposed to be doing, not to injuries that result from negligent acts.

What are defenses to a medical negligence suit?

  • The healthcare provider did not deviate from the standard of care
  • Any deviation from the standard of care did not cause the injuries complained of
  • The injuries were caused by an unavoidable process
  • The plaintiff was partially or entirely at fault*
  • The injuries were caused by the negligence of someone else

* In Tennessee, if the patient is 50 percent or more at fault, the patient recovers nothing. If a patient is 49 percent at fault, the patient is awarded 51 percent of damages. So if damages of $100 are awarded the patient receives a judgment for $51.

As always, the best defense in a negligence suit is the help of medical malpractice lawyers, such as ours in Tennessee. Contact us today.

What is the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases?

In general, you have 1 year from the date you are injured to file a medical malpractice suit in Tennessee for claims under state law, or you may lose your rights. If the injury is not discovered in that period, the period of limitation is 1 year from the date of discovery. In any event, the action must be brought within 3 years of the wrongful act or omission, absent fraudulent concealment. Statute of limitations issues can be complicated. If you have been a victim of medical malpractice in Tennessee or elsewhere, act as quickly as possible to protect yourself. For more information, contact one of our medical malpractice lawyers today.

What is the statute of limitations in wrongful death cases?

In cases for wrongful death the start of the statute of limitations period, usually begins on the date of the negligence, which is not necessarily the date of death.

Wrongful death cases require substantial claims. It costs a substantial amount of money and requires a substantial investment of time by an experienced medical malpractice lawyer to pursue this type of case in Tennessee. This tremendous commitment of resources requires competent attorneys handling these cases to limit their acceptance of cases to meritorious cases involving significant injuries. Some cases cannot be pursued even if there was malpractice because the benefit of the suit is small compared to the expense and risk.

Elements of Damage

If you prevail in a medical malpractice issue in Tennessee, you are entitled to compensation for the following:

  • Medical expenses, past and future
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Pain (past and future)
  • Suffering (past and future)
  • Loss of enjoyment of life (past and future)

In a wrongful death action, you are entitled to recover:

  • Medical expenses
  • Funeral expenses
  • Lost wages (from the time of injury to death)
  • The difference between the present value of your earning capacity less the present value of projected living expenses
  • Loss of companionship and services for certain close family members.

We cannot stress the importance of the meticulous handling of a medical malpractice case enough, whether it occurred in Knoxville, Tennessee, or elsewhere. Contact Gilreath & Associates today. Our associates are the premier medical malpractice lawyers in Tennessee and will be happy to assist you in your time of need.

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