In Iowa medical malpractice cases are less common than in other states. In 2015 there were only 15 lawsuits filed per 100,000 people in the state, with a total payout amounting to $17.9 million that year. This places Iowa 41st among the 50 states for number of malpractice cases brought by victims of medical negligence and their lawyers.
Although there may be fewer malpractice cases in the state, Iowa medical malpractice lawyers are important for those who do choose to file lawsuits. These patients have suffered because of negligent actions or inactions of doctors and other medical professionals. They have a right to seek justice and any needed compensation and it is the malpractice lawyers in the state who have the knowledge and experience to fight on their behalf. If you find yourself in this situation, be sure to look for a good Iowa medical malpractice lawyer to be on your side.
Iowa Medical Malpractice Law
Medical malpractice laws vary by state and are important to understand in order to make and win a case against a defendant who has harmed a patient by committing medical negligence. The laws can be complicated, which is why it is important for those patients to rely on the expertise of Iowa medical malpractice lawyers. They know the laws well and are kept informed about any changes that occur.
In Iowa there are several aspects of medical malpractice law that are important for negligence victims to understand. For example, the statute of limitations puts a time limit on when these cases can be filed. Without an understanding of that limit, a patient may miss the opportunity to have a fair trial. In Iowa the statute of limitations is two years after the negligence and the harm it caused is reasonably discovered. This can be years after the actual negligence occurred, but in Iowa there is an absolute limit of six years. No cases can be filed more than six years after the negligent act. The only exceptions to this are for disabled people or minors or in situations in which a foreign object was left in a patient during surgery.
Other laws that patients should be aware of in Iowa include contributory negligence and attorney fee caps. Contributory negligence refers to any negligence on the part of the patient, for not following a doctor’s advice, for instance. If the negligence of the patient exceeds the combined negligence of the defendants, he or she cannot recover damages. If it is less, the damages can be reduced accordingly. Caps on attorney fees are not part of the law in Iowa, but patients can be protected from unreasonable costs by the court if necessary.
Malpractice Reform Now Law in Iowa
The malpractice laws in Iowa were reformed in 2017 with the passage of a bill in the state House and Senate. It was signed into law by the governor. The reforms are controversial and include a cap on non-economic damages of just $250,000. Non-economic damages refer to compensation for factors like pain and suffering, for which it is impossible to assign an exact monetary amount. Many other states also have a cap like this, but in recent years these laws have been challenged and in many cases found to be unconstitutional.
The tort reform in Iowa also includes a requirement of a certificate of merit before a plaintiff can file a medical malpractice lawsuit. This is an expert affidavit that must be signed by a qualified expert and that states that the case has merit. This new law is supposed to limit frivolous cases, but it is also controversial because it makes it more difficult for victims to file lawsuits. Any lawsuit filed without the certificate of merit will be dismissed, and the plaintiff is then barred from trying again.
As another way to try to limit malpractice lawsuits, the new law allows for doctors to openly discuss adverse incidents with their patients without fear of having that discussion used against them in a lawsuit. This is intended to allow for doctors and patients to come to an agreement and conclusion without the filing of a lawsuit.
Medical Malpractice Cases in Iowa
Iowa medical malpractice lawyers fight hard for victims of medical negligence in the state. They often win for their clients, but it is not an easy path. Many people fight for years for justice. One case is currently ongoing, in which a woman is asking for $6 million from the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, which she claims was negligent in causing her brain damage. Ardeth Wray underwent surgery to have a benign tumor removed from her brain in 2015.
She later suffered from an infection at the incision site, but her doctor did not replace the metal surgical mesh right away. According to Wray’s lawyer, this would have cleared the infection. Instead she suffered for months before the mesh was removed. By then it was enmeshed in her brain and removing it caused blood loss, a stroke, and subsequent brain damage.
The same institution was also sued by the family of a man who passed away after a medical imaging procedure. He died because of respiratory distress ten days after the procedure, which the family says was negligently performed and caused his death. The hospital worked with the family’s lawyers and agreed to pay $240,000 in damages. Part of that money comes from the state’s general fund, which is also responsible for the $1.25 million that is being paid to the victim of a medication mistake made at the state hospital. The 14-year-old suffered heart and brain damage from the wrong medication, and his family sued successfully for the damages.
Looking for an Iowa Medical Malpractice Lawyer
It is because of the expertise and knowledge of Iowa medical malpractice lawyers that cases like these are successful and win justice and damages for victims. If you have been harmed by medical negligence in the state, be sure to find and work with a lawyer who specializes in malpractice cases. You need a lawyer with specialized knowledge of the law but also one who has actual experience in both settlements and trials.
Be sure to ask a lot of questions of any lawyer you are thinking of working with to ensure that you are comfortable with their experiences. Find out about past cases, previous clients, and any wins or losses that are notable. When you take some time to find the best lawyer for your case, you give yourself the greatest possibility of a successful outcome.
- http://www.ncsl.org/research/financial-services-and-commerce/medical-liability-medical-malpractice-laws.aspx - AL