In Oregon, the laws for medical malpractice lawsuits can be complicated and may not always favor the victims of medical negligence. If you have been harmed by a medical error, you need an Oregon medical malpractice lawyer to help you make your case and to guide you through the process. Only a true expert in these laws can give you a good chance of a successful case.
The number of cases that are filed in the state each year rank Oregon fairly high among all states. In 2015 Oregon ranked 13th with nearly 29 lawsuits filed for every 100,000 people living there. The total payout for all of these cases was only $42.9 million.
Oregon’s Medical Malpractice Laws
There are several laws in Oregon that govern malpractice lawsuits, and while they can be complicated and difficult to understand, it is important that patients know about them and are able to advocate for themselves. While having a good Oregon medical malpractice lawyer there to guide and help patients make decisions, victims also need to be empowered and have a basic understanding of their rights.
For instance, the state has a statute of limitations on when a person can file a medical malpractice lawsuit and when it is too late. The time limit is just two years and it starts tolling either when the negligence occurred or when the patient should have discovered that there was an error with reasonable diligence. Even with the exception of discovering the error, no lawsuit can be filed more than five years after a negligent act or omission. There are exceptions, though, and these include minors who have five years or one year from their eighteenth birthday and when fraud has been committed.
In 2014 the state introduced a new law that was intended to prevent lawsuits and court trials and to settle more malpractice cases in mediation. The law allows the plaintiffs and defendants to get together to mediate even before a lawsuit has been filed. This can be a successful way to get settlements done without the expense of a trial, but patient advocate groups do not like the law. They claim that these cases will not be filed win the National Practitioner Data Base, which collects malpractice information and allows for better background checks on physicians. They worry that these omissions could impact patient safety in the future.
Damages Cap Challenged
Another controversial law in Oregon limits the amount of damages plaintiffs can recover in a malpractice case. Most states have instituted a cap on non-economic damages, the costs of pain and suffering, disfigurement, and similar types of harm. However, Oregon has a unique cap that only limits non-economic damages in cases of wrongful death. There is no cap in the state on economic damages for actual costs, like lost earnings and medical expenses.
The reason that the state has a cap only for wrongful death cases is that the cap on non-economic damages for injured patients was overturned. It was found to be unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court, which upheld the cap for wrongful death lawsuits. The cap was put in place in 1987 and abolished in 1999. Since 1999 there have been cases in which the cap has been allowed, and advocates for victims are looking to have the law changed to push the cap up to $10 million. They believe the capped amount is arbitrary and unfair, especially to those who suffer catastrophic injuries from negligence.
Oregon Medical Malpractice Cases
The lawyers in Oregon who specialize in malpractice law are experts in this complicated area of medicine, and they put that knowledge to use helping victims of medical mistakes get justice and recover damages. Many examples of cases that lawyers have won for their clients in Oregon exist, and some are truly shocking.
One of these involved a woman who, struggling with pelvic pain was told she needed to have her appendix removed along with her right ovary and fallopian tube. Later those organs were found to be healthy, so removing them was not necessary. Another mistake occurred when the robotic surgery equipment used to perform the procedure malfunctioned. It resulted in foreign objects being left in the patient’s body.
It wasn’t until three years later that plastic and birth control coils were found in her body during surgery. In a case that ended in 2013 the patient’s lawyer was able to convince a jury that she had in fact suffered because of medical negligence. She was awarded $10,000 in medical expenses and $100,000 for pain and suffering.
Another important case involved an infant who suffered brain damage when he was deprived of oxygen for nearly 15 minutes at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU). The baby was being treated for a congenital heart defect when the breathing tube came dislodged and stayed that way for several minutes. Because of the brain damage he will need care for the rest of his life.
The family was ultimately awarded $9.3 million, but it took years to get that amount. The OHSU had previously been granted some immunity in damages, limiting what patients could recover to just $200,000. This particular case went to the state Supreme Court and the justices agreed that the amount was inadequate to compensate the family and provide for the boy’s lifelong care.
How to Find an Oregon Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you or a family member is injured or sick because of a mistake made by a doctor or other health professional, you have important decisions to make. Going forward with a lawsuit can be confusing and overwhelming. You need an Oregon medical malpractice lawyer there to guide you, to explain the laws to you, and make sure you are given your fair chance to seek justice.
It is crucial to select a lawyer who truly specializes in medical malpractice. These kinds of cases require specialized knowledge because the laws don’t always favor victims. Without a true expert you can make mistakes that will deny you the chance to a fair trial or to recover damages. Don’t rely on just the word of a lawyer either; ask for evidence of past trials and their outcomes before you commit.
A good way to start in your search for a reputable lawyer in good standing who really does specialize in malpractice is to contact the state bar association. Here you can be directed to the lawyers who are prepared to help you and who are taking on new clients with cases like yours. Making the right choice is important because you are putting your case into their hands.