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Medical Malpractice Overview

Why do you need a Michigan Medical Malpractice Attorney?

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Despite the frequency and severity of preventable medical errors, the state government and Michigan Courts have made the filing of Medical Malpractice claims exceedingly complicated, complex and expensive.

That is why it is essential to contact a Michigan Medical Malpractice Attorney such as Cochran, Foley & Associates. The firm is a highly experienced and uniquely qualified to investigate an injury to yourself or a loved one as a result of a doctor or hospital's medical malpractice and to help navigate you through the complex legal process.

What is unique about a Michigan Medical Malpractice Claim?
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A Michigan medical malpractice claim is distinguished by two defining characteristics.

  • Medical malpractice can occur only within the course of a professional relationship
  • Claims of medical malpractice necessarily raise questions involving medical judgment

A professional relationship exists where a licensed health care professional (doctor, nurse, etc.), licensed health care facility (hospital, clinic, etc.), or the agents or employees of a licensed health care facility, were subject to a contractual duty to render professional health care services to you or your loved one.

A medical error has been defined as the failure of a planned action to be completed as intended or the use of a wrong plan to achieve an aim. In legal terms, medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, nurse, hospital or other medical provider makes a medical error, which is contrary to the standard of care. Such errors can occur in the following areas:

Diagnostic
  Error or delay in diagnosis
Failure to employ indicated tests
Use of outmoded tests or therapy
Failure to act on the results of monitoring or testing
Treatment
  Error in the performance of an operation, procedure, or test
Error in administering the treatment
Error in the dose or method of using a drug
Avoidable delay in treatment or in responding to an abnormal test

Preventative
  Failure to provide prophylactic treatment
Inadequate monitoring or follow-up of treatment


Other
  Failure of communication
Equipment failure
Other system failure
What do I do if I suspect medical malpractice?
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Sometimes medical malpractice is easy to spot such as where a surgeon operates on the wrong part of the body or amputates the wrong limb. More often however, the error is more subtle and requires extensive medical knowledge to spot it. That is why it is essential that you contact an experienced Michigan law firm like Cochran, Foley & Associates, PC as soon as you suspect medical malpractice.

Attorney Lynn M. Foley, a Registered Nurse who has been practicing exclusively in the area of medical malpractice since 1983, spearheads the Michigan medical malpractice team at Cochran, Foley & Associates, PC.

Lynn Foley has handled a wide variety of malpractice cases, including orthopedic malpractice, nursing home malpractice, failure to diagnose lung, bone, brain and colon cancer. She has particular interest in cases involving women and children's health issues such as failure to diagnose breast cancer and birth trauma cases. Lynn recently recovered $1.2 million on behalf of a baby born with Spinal Bifida and $900,000 on behalf of a baby born with Down Syndrome.

Supporting Lynn Foley is our paralegal team who have over 20 years of nursing experience and assists the medical malpractice department with legal/medical support and trial preparation for all medical litigation. Their combined medical and legal backgrounds make our medical malpractice department uniquely qualified to discover medical errors that other law firms may miss.

Why contact us immediately upon suspecting medical malpractice? The Michigan government has set strict time limits or Statute of Limitations for filing medical malpractice lawsuits. The Statute of Limitations varies depending upon the age of the victim, the type of injury the victim suffered as well as whether or not the victim died as a result of the medical malpractice. If you fail to file a lawsuit within the applicable time limits, the courts will dismiss your case and you will have no retribution for your losses. Therefore time is of the essence. Call us today!

Time is also of the essence because the Michigan government requires victims of medical malpractice to strictly adhere to complicated and complex notice and filing requirements that victims of other forms of negligence are not forced to endure. Without an experienced law firm such as Cochran, Foley & Associates, PC on your side, it is easy to have your case dismissed for failing to adhere to the requirements.

What to Expect When Contacting Michigan Medical Malpractice Attorneys Terry Cochran & Lynn Foley
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Once you contact Cochran, Foley & Associates, our Michigan medical malpractice team will investigate your claim. Investigating a potential medical malpractice claim involves obtaining and reviewing medical records to determine whether a preventable medical error has been made.

If we feel that a medical error is possible, we will send your records to doctors who are highly qualified in the area of your suspected medical malpractice. In order to proceed with your claim the experts must agree that medical malpractice has occurred.

Why do we need doctors to say that? The Michigan government requires that before any medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed, a doctor, who meets the stringent qualifications set forth in the Michigan Court Rules, must review the medical records. That doctor, or doctors as the case may be, must make a determination that medical malpractice has occurred and must sign an Affidavit of Merit to that effect. An Affidavit of Merit must be filed with the Complaint to start your lawsuit. Without an Affidavit of Merit, your case will fail.

This is why the medical background of our medical malpractice team is essential. A law firm must be able to recognize a potential medical error before they are willing to present it to a medical expert for review. Attorneys without a medical background may miss subtle medical errors and determine that there is no medical malpractice. With Cochran, Foley & Associates, PC, our team has the medical background needed to ensure that your rights are protected.

Expert review of your medical malpractice claim can be very costly and your case may require several Affidavits of Merit. Therefore, it is essential that you contact an experienced, established law firm such as Cochran, Foley & Associates, PC which has the medical contacts and financial resources to obtain the best qualified physician(s) to support your claim.

What can I expect if a medical malpractice lawsuit is filed?
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The mere filing of your lawsuit does not ensure success and a large verdict. In medical malpractice case, you and your attorney bear the burden of proving:

  • the applicable standard of care
  • breach of that standard by defendant
  • injury
  • proximate causation between the alleged breach and the injury

Failure to prove any one of these elements is fatal to your lawsuit.

If your lawsuit is against a general practitioner, your attorney must prove that he/she failed to provide you the recognized standard of acceptable professional practice or care in the community in which the defendant practices. If defendant is a specialist, your attorney must prove that he/she failed to provide the recognized standard of practice or care within that specialty as reasonably applied in light of the facilities available in the community or other facilities reasonably available under the circumstances.

If your attorney proves the doctor, nurse or hospital breached the standard of care, that breach must cause a new injury to you or your loved one. You cannot succeed if the standard of care was breached but it caused no new injury. It must be proven that the new injury, more probably than not was proximately caused by the negligence of the doctor, nurse or hospital.

How do we meet these requirements and prove your case? The elements of a medical malpractice case are proven by your medical records, sworn testimony by you and your loved ones and most importantly, through medical experts who are on your side. Without knowledgeable, credible and persuasive medical experts on your side, your case will fail. That is why you need an experienced, established law firm such as Cochran, Foley & Associates, PC which has the medical contacts and financial resources to obtain the best qualified physician(s) to prove your case.

If I Prove my Case, What Kind of Damages Can I Expect to Receive?
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You may recover "economic damages" which compensate you for your medical care, rehabilitation services, loss of earnings, loss of earning capacity, etc. which arise due to the injury created by the medical malpractice. Your "economic damages" may consist of expenses you already incurred as well as what you may reasonably incur in the future. The amount of damages arising out of your "economic damages" is unlimited.

However, the Michigan government has made the issue of "non-economic" damages extremely complicated and has put significant restraints on what "non-economic" damages a victim of medical malpractice may receive.

In most circumstances, for loss due to pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, physical disfigurement, etc., resulting from the medical malpractice the "non-economic damages" are limited to $366,000.00. This is known as a "cap" on damages. However, this "cap" is increased $653,500.00 if you or your loved one:

  • Is hemiplegic, paraplegic, or quadriplegic resulting in a total permanent functional loss of 1 or more limbs caused by injury to the brain and/or injury to the spinal cord;
  • Has permanently impaired cognitive capacity rendering him or her incapable of making independent, responsible life decisions and permanently incapable of independently performing the activities of normal, daily living; or
  • There has been permanent loss of or damage to a reproductive organ resulting in the inability to procreate.

Of course, there is no guarantee that you will be awarded these numbers rather, as a result of the Michigan legislation, this is the most you may receive for "non-economic damages." A jury, who listens to the evidence, evaluates the credibility of your medical experts and the medical experts of the defendants will determine exactly what you receive.

Medical malpractice cases are tough, complicated and expensive. That is why you need experience on your side. Trust Cochran, Foley & Associates, PC, experience you can count on.