Nebraska medical malpractice lawyers are experts in the area of law that governs how medical negligence cases are handled in the state. Nebraska ranks in the top quarter of states for number of cases filed each year, and lawmakers have reformed the laws to reduce this number. There are laws in place that are complicated and that can present barriers to victims of medical harm to seeking justice.
This makes it essential for anyone who has been harmed by a medical professional to work with a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer specializing in this type of law. If you were the victim of medical negligence, it helps to understand the laws governing your case and to know your rights, but it is even more helpful to have a good lawyer fighting in your corner to help you get justice and recover damages.
Nebraska’s Medical Malpractice Laws
The laws for medical malpractice cases can be difficult to interpret and understand, and the issues that arise during cases can quickly get very complicated. The laws vary by state, so to make a case in Nebraska, patients and victims of medical mistakes really need the expertise of a dedicated malpractice lawyer. Even with this professional on your side, if you find yourself facing a malpractice case, make sure you understand some of the basics of the law.
Knowing the time limit placed on filing a lawsuit, for instance, is important for patients to understand in order to avoid missing the allowed window of time. In Nebraska the statute of limitations is two years from the time of the incident that caused harm, unless the patient couldn’t have reasonably discovered it then. In that case the time limit is one year from the time of discovery but no more than ten years from the actual negligent act. Patients who were minors when the negligent act occurred have until their 21st birthday.
Also important for patients to understand is that there is a cap on a specific type of damages in Nebraska. Most states cap non-economic damages, those related to emotional harm, pain, disfigurement, and similar factors but do not cap damages related to lost wages, medical expenses, and similar costs.
Nebraska, however, has capped total damages, including economic and non-economic costs. Cases in which the negligence occurred between 1992 and 2013 are capped at $1.25 million. Those that occurred between 2003 and 2014 are limited to $1.75 million in total damages. Cases with negligence from 2014 and later are capped at $1.75 million. Defendants may be limited to how much they are liable to pay, but excess awards are still paid to the plaintiff but through Nebraska’s Excess Liability Fund.
Nebraska’s Medical Review Panel
Some laws governing malpractice, such as the damages cap, are controversial because they are seen to limit a victim’s ability to get a fair trial. Another law that is controversial for this reason requires that patients put their case before a review panel before being allowed to file a lawsuit. This can be prohibitive for some victims of negligence, and it puts an additional barrier in the way of getting justice.
The panel consist of three licensed medical professionals and one lawyer who leads the panel but has no vote. The plaintiff’s legal team must provide evidence to allow the panel to review the merit of the case. This may include all medical records as well as expert testimony. The panel then has thirty days to decide if the defendant did in fact breach the standard of care.
Nebraska’s Medical Malpractice Cases
In 2016 a jury in Douglas County awarded a mother and father $11.5 million in a case over their child’s severe brain damage. The baby was born at Methodist Women’s Hospital in 2010 with the assistance of a doctor and a midwife. The family’s lawyer made the case that they mishandled several aspects of the birth, including failing to manage breathing problems in the baby, using forceps improperly, and then altering the baby’s electronic medical record. The baby was left with serious brain damage and permanent disabilities.
Also in Douglas County are several lawsuits filed against the same plastic surgeon and his clinic. Fifteen women have brought cases against the clinic, citing pain and suffering, disfigurement, pain, and scarring as the result of negligent treatment. The victims and their lawyers are accusing the doctor of misrepresenting himself as board-certified in plastic surgery, when really his only certification is in family medicine.
Some of these high profile cases are challenging the damages cap in Nebraska. In other incident a baby was born with severe brain damage in Omaha. In their lawsuit the family and their lawyers made the case to the jury that the medical staff failed to notice or do anything about complications, resulting in the child’s brain damage and permanent disability that will ultimately cost much more than the $1.75 million cap. The jury agreed and awarded the family $17 million. The judge did not reduce it to the capped amount, but the family has yet to see any of the compensation while the defendants appeal the decision.
How to Find a Nebraska Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you are in the position of having been harmed by a medical professional you have a right to seek justice and damages. What you need to make your case is a Nebraska medical malpractice lawyer who understands the laws and how to fight for your best interests. Start your search with the state bar association and look for lawyers and law firms that only take medical malpractice cases. These are the professionals that are truly dedicated to helping victims of medical negligence and who have the best understanding of the relevant laws.
Once you have options for a lawyer or legal team, you need to select the one that you feel most comfortable working with by asking questions. Find out what the specific experiences they have with malpractice cases, including number of cases won, settlements agreed upon, and cases taken to trial with jury outcomes. You can even ask for references from past clients if that helps you feel better about your choice.
Selecting a malpractice lawyer to work with in Nebraska is just the first step in making sure you have a good chance at a positive outcome for your case. It is the first step in what may be a long and arduous process, so be sure you have chosen the right person to stand by your side and advocate for you.