A Jacksonville Medical Malpractice Attorney Explains the Details of a Medical Malpractice Case
Medical malpractice claims are notoriously difficult to bring. It could be argued that the primary problem faced by claimants is the reluctance of most medical professionals to testify against another medical professional. Further, insurance companies fight these cases with uncommon zeal because of the amounts of money commonly at stake. Finally, there are mountains of medical records that need to be examined, and strict procedural rules must be followed. If you feel as if you were damaged or suffered additional complications to a pre-existing injury or illness, you’ll need the experience and skill of a Jacksonville medical malpractice lawyer at the Pope Law Firm.
The Effects of COVID-19 on Medical Malpractice Claims in North Carolina
During the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, our medical professionals were true heroes, working long, continuous hours under emergency-level conditions and exposing themselves to the very disease they were fighting against.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has thrown a wrench into what used to be a fairly standard method for proving a medical malpractice claim. The North Carolina state legislature passed the COVID-19 Recovery Act (PDF) (the “Act”) in May 2020. The Act provided medical providers with limited immunity for care “that may result from treatment of individuals during the COVID-19 public health emergency under conditions resulting from circumstances associated with the COVID-19 public health emergency.” As a result, an injured party who might usually have a valid medical malpractice claim would likely be barred from bringing a claim for any services covered under the immunity provision.
Nonetheless, the Act’s immunity provision is not total immunity. To realize the benefits of the Acts immunity provision, the health care services at issue must be directly or indirectly impacted by decisions made because of COVID-19. There is no immunity for reckless conduct, gross negligence, or the like. A Jacksonville medical malpractice attorney at the Pope Law Firm can help you establish a heightened level of negligent conduct.
How to Prove a Medical Malpractice Claim in North Carolina
If a health care provider is not protected by the Act, a claimant in North Carolina must first hire an expert qualified in the same field to review the relevant medical records and opine that the medical care provided did not rise to the level of the accepted standard of care. They must be willing to testify to this opinion under oath.
Another preliminary task is, ideally, to find even more expert witnesses to testify to the same opinion. The defendant will, of course, have their own experts to testify that the standard of care was sufficient, and so these cases often boil down to what’s commonly known in legal circles as a “Battle of the Experts.” In these types of expert-driven cases, it’s all about credibility, which experts will the judge or jury find to be most trustworthy and believable.
Although the preliminary expert opinion is an absolute requirement, claimants still have to prove their case. For example, for a successful medical malpractice claim, a claimant must show:
- There was an applicable standard of care. The standard of care is, at its core, the level of care under the claimant’s particular circumstances that are generally accepted by the local medical community. The circumstances of the treatment, such as location, the number of patients waiting for medical care and how relatively severe their medical issues are, and any number of other factors that may have influenced the medical care provider’s decisions,
- A breach of the standard of care, potentially including arguments that the provider failed to use reasonable care in the application of the provider’s skill and knowledge and that the provider failed to use the provider’s best judgment in the treatment or care,
- That the breach caused the injuries suffered, and
- The injuries caused damages to the claimant, such as loss of income, medical bills, emotional injuries, and other types of costs associated with the injuries.
How a Jacksonville Medical Malpractice Lawyer at the Pope Law Firm Can Help
If you are a victim of medical malpractice, we can discuss the facts, gather the necessary evidence, including qualified experts, develop a litigation strategy, present you with options, and see your case through to a conclusion.