The state of Connecticut comes 38th out of the 50 states for number of medical malpractice cases filed each year. In 2015 this amounted to just over 16 cases per 100,000 residents but $85.8 million in payouts to victims. The laws that govern these cases and how much compensation victims of medical negligence can get are complicated.
Because of the complexity of the laws, settlements, and going through the court system, if you have been the victim of a medical error in the state you need a good Connecticut medical malpractice lawyer. This legal professional has the expertise and the experience to make sure that you case is filed on time and that you have the evidence in place to make your case and to get the justice you deserve.
The “Good Faith” Law
Connecticut has several complicated laws related to medical malpractice, which makes hiring a qualified malpractice attorney so important. One of these laws is controversial and has been in effect since 2005. It was enacted in an effort to cut costs of malpractice insurance for physicians and healthcare in general, and to try to reduce the occurrence of frivolous lawsuits.
The law requires that a plaintiff and his or her malpractice lawyer show good faith belief that there are grounds and evidence for a valid case against the defendant, or defendants if there are more than one. In practice this means that the lawyer must get a written, signed opinion on the malpractice incident from a similar healthcare provider. It must include details that support the expert’s opinion that the patient was harmed by medical negligence. The lawsuit cannot be filed without this opinion, and if it is filed with an opinion that the court determines comes from an unqualified expert, the case may be dismissed immediately.
This law is controversial because it may prevent someone who has truly been a victim of medical negligence from being able to have their day in court. The law outlines requirements for the qualified expert opinion, including that he or she be licensed in the state, have the same or greater qualifications as the defendant, and be trained in the same medical discipline. Victims’ advocates criticize this law for setting too high a bar for claimants, who often have their cases dismissed because of it. They also say that there have been many cases in which the cases were dismissed when it was clear the expert opinion was highly qualified.
Other Connecticut Malpractice Laws
Connecticut medical malpractice lawyers are well-versed in the complexities of the “Good Faith” law and all the other laws that govern how malpractice cases are filed and tried in the state. While a good lawyer can guide a client through the process and use his or her knowledge of the laws to make the best case for compensation, victims of negligence should have a good basic understanding of malpractice laws.
Some of the most important laws for patients in Connecticut to understand include the statute of limitations. Getting a case started is complicated and time-consuming, and without being aware that there are time limits, a patient can miss the window of opportunity to seek justice. In Connecticut patients have two years from the time of the incident or when it was discovered. If the mistake was not discovered within two years, the patient and legal team must prove that there was no reasonable way it could have been discovered in that time. And, there is still a total limit of three years from the date of the incident.
One aspect of the law that comes out in favor of victims in Connecticut is that there is no cap on damages. Most states have some type of cap, usually on non-economic damages, limiting how much compensation a victim can be awarded in a settlement agreement or by a jury decision. This means that Connecticut medical malpractice attorneys are free to seek as much compensation a victim needs to cover medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses, both tangible and not.
Connecticut Medical Malpractice Cases
Malpractice lawyers in Connecticut work hard to ensure victims of negligence get justice, in spite of the laws that often don’t favor patients. With the lack of damages caps, though, when they are successful in proving negligence, victims are able to win substantial amounts that help them cover medical expenses and ongoing care.
In one such case it was the family of the victim of a fatal medical mistake that received $2.65 million as compensation for the loss. The man who died suffered a brain bleed in 2012. The man, 63 years old, was admitted to William W. Backus Hospital because of a piece of food stuck in his throat. A routine and simple procedure to remove it, an endoscopy, was conducted and he suffered a stroke soon after. The hospital staff gave him blood thinners even though he was already on two others, and he suffered a brain bleed and died.
In another case that has not yet been settled, a man who underwent surgery at the West Haven Veterans Affairs Hospital suffered after a scalpel was left inside him for four years. This is likely to be a case in which, in spite of the statute of limitations of three years, the victim will be allowed to seek and win damages. The surgeons responsible have already admitted negligence and formally apologized.
How to Find a Connecticut Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you or a loved one has suffered because of medical negligence committed in Connecticut, you need to find and work with an experienced and knowledgeable malpractice lawyer. There are many such individuals and law offices, and it is a good idea to start with the state bar association to find those lawyers that are qualified and who specialize in medical malpractice.
It is important to find a lawyer you feel you can work with comfortably and that you feel has the experience to maximize your chances of a successful case. This means that you should ask a lot of questions of lawyers and find out specific information about past experiences with malpractice cases, damages one, trial experience, and even references from past clients.
Going through a medical malpractice case can be a long and arduous process. It is important to get the justice you deserve and the compensation you need, but forcing physicians and others to be held accountable also helps improve healthcare for everyone. When you find and work with the right malpractice lawyer in Connecticut, you have a good chance of a positive outcome.