New Hampshire ranks low among all states in medical malpractice cases. In 2015 it ranked 46th with only 13 lawsuits filed that year per 100,000 residents. Those cases amounted to just $14 million total in payouts to the victims. Whether it is the culture of the state, the quality of medical care available or the restrictive laws is not known, but it is certain that patients here need good New Hampshire medical malpractice lawyers fighting on their sides.
These lawyers are experts on the laws in the state that govern malpractice cases. Because these laws are different in every state, it requires expertise to advocate for victims. Malpractice lawyers in New Hampshire have knowledge and experience and are able to help their clients have the best chance of winning justice for being harmed by medical errors.
New Hampshire Medical Malpractice Laws
Laws that govern malpractice in medicine vary by state. Each state creates its own laws regarding how cases can be filed, when they can be started, and how they proceed. In New Hampshire, lawyers who specialize in these laws are necessary allies for patients who have been victims of medical mistakes. These patients should also have a basic understanding of the laws, though, so that they can best work with their lawyers and be empowered to make the right decisions.
All states, for instance, set a statute of limitations, which if missed can cause a victim to lose the opportunity to seek justice and recover damages. In New Hampshire the statute of limitations states that patients have three years from the time of the incident. There is also a discovery rule in the state that allows patients to file within three years of the discovery of the negligent error, as long as that discovery could not have been reasonably been found earlier.
Another important issue to be aware of is that there is no cap on damages that victims can recover in New Hampshire. Damages fall into two categories: economic damages for actual costs of medical care or lost wages and non-economic damages to cover intangible harm from negligence, like pain, suffering, or living with a disability. Many states cap non-economic damages while a few cap total damages. This is common but controversial because it limits what a patient can recover for being harmed. In New Hampshire, with no caps in place, medical malpractice lawyers can seek as much in damages as is warranted for a victim’s harm.
Medical Malpractice Screening Panels
In 2005 New Hampshire’s legislature introduced a new statute to the existing medical malpractice laws. It requires that cases go before a screening panel before a trial can begin. The screening panels must be organized within two weeks of a malpractice case being filed. The panel has six months to review evidence and decide on the merit of the case. If the decision is unanimous it can be made admissible in the trial. Both sides have the right to agree together to waive the panel process or to have it be binding, eliminating the need for a trial.
The purpose of the screening panel statute was to reduce court, healthcare, and malpractice insurance costs. Critics of the law state that it has not proven useful because its use has drastically declined, down to just two cases brought before a panel in 2013. Proponents say that it is working because fewer cases are actually going to trial in the state. Other complaints critics have of the system are that it takes too long and essentially amounts to a mini trial before a trial and that it prevents some victims, even with merit in their cases, from filing and therefore from having a chance at a fair trial.
New Hampshire Medical Malpractice Cases
While the number of lawsuits filed in the state is low compared to others, there are examples of successful malpractice cases. These are instances in which New Hampshire medical malpractice lawyers were able to win justice, accountability, and damages for their clients. One of these cases involved a tragic situation in which a young man died from a pulmonary embolism.
The high school senior was traveling when he died from the lung blockage, but the negligence occurred a couple of months earlier when doctors failed to correctly review and interpret an ultrasound done on his kidney. The boy had suffered for years from a cyst on his kidney that required regular checkups. In this case he was found to be stable, but in reality there was a large mass from which a piece had broken off. The doctors failed to find it and he died from the pulmonary embolism as a result. His parents and their lawyers were able to win a $1.1 million settlement.
Another million-dollar case was that of a man who developed a permanent disability and compartment syndrome after heart surgery went wrong. The surgery was performed in 2012. He was left in surgery for too long, and there were complications in the days following that were not adequately noted or treated. There were clear signs of blood flow being restricted to his legs, but nothing was done about it. He ended up with permanent foot drop as a result. The man’s case was settled in his favor for $1 million.
In another case a patient went to a doctor with gastrointestinal complaints. A CT scan was done and the radiologist found there were no issues. With continuing pain for three years the patient had another scan done that showed intestinal telescoping. The original CT scan was reviewed and the problem was found to have been there but missed by the first radiologist. With the delay in treatment the patient had to undergo serious surgery and a long recovery. The patient sued both the original doctor and the first radiologist and the case was settled confidentially in his favor.
Working with a New Hampshire Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you have been the victim of medical negligence in New Hampshire it is crucial that you choose a lawyer to work with that specializes only in medical malpractice cases. Being able to fight successfully for victims in these cases requires having special knowledge of the laws and experience filing, settling, and trying malpractice cases.
To find a New Hampshire medical malpractice lawyer start with a search of the state bar association. This will help you find a reputable lawyer in good standing, and the group can also point you in the direction of those professionals who are experienced in malpractice. As you make your search, be sure to ask questions about experiences, past cases, wins for clients, losses, damages recovered, and other specifics that you need to know to feel good about your decision. It is only when you feel comfortable with the lawyer you choose that you will be able to work well together to make your case and seek the damages you deserve.