The number of medical malpractice cases that are filed in Nevada each year is not high compared to many others states. In fact, Nevada ranks just 32nd with fewer than 19 cases per 100,000 people and a total payout that year of $25 million. Some of the laws, critics would say, make it harder for victims of medical errors to file and recover damages.
This is why it is crucial that anyone in the state who has been harmed by a doctor’s or other medical professional’s error contact and work with a Nevada medical malpractice lawyer. Lawyers who specialize in medical negligence have both the deep knowledge of the state’s laws specific to this area and the experience working with victims and patients to make sure cases have the best chance of success in seeking justice and compensation.
Medical Malpractice Laws in Nevada
Patients who have been harmed by a medical professional, and who believe negligence played a role in the incident are smart to rely on the knowledge and expertise of medical malpractice lawyers in Nevada. But savvy consumers of healthcare should also have their own awareness and a basic knowledge of the laws that give them rights in the case of negligence and that may hamper their ability to seek justice.
One of these laws that may be most important to be aware of is the statute of limitations. All states set their own statute of limitations, which is the time limit restricting when a lawsuit can be filed with respect to when the negligence occurred. The time limit in Nevada is three years from the incident or one year from the time the patient discovered the error. If the latter discovery rule is used, the plaintiff and their legal team must show that even with reasonable diligence the error could not have been discovered sooner. Exceptions are possible, but usually only when the defendant knowingly tried to conceal the negligence.
Nevada’s medical malpractice law has another statute that makes it more challenging for patients to file lawsuits. The requirement of an affidavit of merit can become a barrier to some patients wanting to file. The law states that malpractice lawsuits have to be filed with a signed affidavit that demonstrates a qualified medical expert supports the negligence allegations. The affidavit must also include specific information about the charges and identify each defendant.
There are a few, specific cases in which a patient does not have to file an affidavit in order to begin a lawsuit. These include a foreign object being left inside a patient, an explosion or a fire caused by a treatment, a burn caused by some type of medical care, an injury caused to a part of the body not being treated, and a surgery that proceeds on the wrong patient or wrong part of the body.
Nevada Damages Cap Upheld by State Supreme Court
Like many states, Nevada malpractice law includes a cap on non-economic damages. The amount of money that a victim can recover for non-monetary suffering, like pain or disfigurement, is limited to $350,000. There is no cap on economic damages, money that covers actual costs, like lost wages and past and future medical bills.
In some states the non-economic damages cap has been overturned after being found unconstitutional. Nevada’s cap was tested and found to be constitutional by the state Supreme Court. The case that challenged the cap involved a man who died after being treated and discharged from Desert Lane Care Center. He was not given any medication or prescription for insulin, although he had diabetes, and he died soon after being discharged. In a preliminary ruling a judge decided that the family could recover $350,000 per defendant, but the doctor being charged appealed the decision and the Supreme Court decided in his favor.
Medical Malpractice Cases in Nevada
Nevada medical malpractice lawyers fight hard for their clients, seeking not only justice and to hold responsible medical professionals accountable, but also to recover damages that help to offset the costs of the harm caused. In one of these cases a large amount, $14.5 million, was awarded to a family whose infant was born prematurely. She suffered and became very ill with anemia after being born, and as alleged by the family, the two doctors responsible did not take adequate care of her.
Another Nevada case involved a mother and child. The woman died during an emergency delivery of her baby at University Medical Center in 2005. The little girl was deprived of oxygen during the procedure and suffered severe brain damage. By 2010 the father’s malpractice case concluded with a $238,000 settlement.
Another case is especially tragic because the woman harmed, although she won damages, is now not seeing that money because of her lawyer, accused of stealing money from clients. The woman was born with cerebral palsy and is permanently disabled. She won $2 million in damages to cover her future costs of care, but her lawyer stole that money and now she has to go without it. She is not alone, and other victims of malpractice are in the same situation. These cases highlight how important it is to choose a good, reputable malpractice lawyer for representation.
Finding a Nevada Medical Malpractice Lawyer
It is crucial that if you have suffered from medical negligence in the state that you seek out and work with a lawyer that specifically works with malpractice law. That a lawyer has actual experience with medical malpractice cases is important because these laws are highly specialized. They are different from laws related to other types of personal injury, so working with a general personal injury lawyer could result in mistakes that cause a case to be lost or dismissed.
Contact the state bar association to find a Nevada medical malpractice lawyer with specific experiences and in good standing in the state. If you are given more than one option of qualified professionals, ask any questions you need to feel comfortable with your choice. You can ask about experiences, professional time working in malpractice, specific past cases, results of those cases, and referrals from previous clients. Making this decision of a lawyer to represent you is important, so take your time and make the choice that makes you feel like you have an advocate truly on your side.