Rhode Island laws that guide how medical malpractice lawsuits can be filed and how they must proceed can be very confusing to anyone without specialized knowledge. This is true even for lawyers who have not focused on this particular area of the law. For patients and victims of medical negligence, trying to face a legal system that often favors the medical community is daunting.

This is why if you were harmed by a medical professional in the state, you can benefit from the guidance of a Rhode Island medical malpractice lawyer. With a legal team or individual lawyer with experience in malpractice cases on your side, you can feel more comfortable moving forward, knowing someone is fighting for you.

Medical Malpractice Lawyers in Rhode Island

Rhode Island medical malpractice lawyers are important advocates for patients because they have a deeper understanding of the complicated laws for malpractice cases that are different in all states. In Rhode Island, for instance, patients need to know that there is a time limit on when they can file a lawsuit, called a statute of limitations.

The limit is three years, and the clock starts running when the negligence occurs. There are exceptions, though, for cases in which the patient could not have reasonably discovered the negligence immediately. In these cases the clock starts once the patient discovers the negligence that caused harm. For a wrongful death, the limit is three years from the time of death.

Most states cap the damages that a patient can recover in a malpractice case, which limits how much compensation they can seek and win from a jury. Rhode Island is unusual in that it does not cap economic or non-economic damages, the costs that are quantifiable, like medical bills, and those that are for pain, suffering, emotional harm, and other non-quantifiable factors. Patients’ medical malpractice lawyers can seek as much in damages as they believe is reasonable and fair.

A lot of states also have strict requirements for expert witnesses used by plaintiffs in making their cases and may even require an expert to sign an affidavit of merit before the case can be filed. In Rhode Island there is no affidavit requirement. The guidelines for a medical expert witness are less strict than in many states. The witness only has to be someone who has the training, education, or experience relevant to the type of medicine involved in the case. These laws make it a little easier for patients to get their fair trials than in other states, but it is still not a simple matter, and a good malpractice lawyer is important to have.

Rhode Island Medical Malpractice Cases

There are many examples of cases in Rhode Island that were settled in favor of the patient or that went to trial and ended with a jury award to the plaintiff. The Rhode Island medical malpractice lawyers who were behind these cases are the experts who were able to use their extensive knowledge and experience to help the victims who suffered because of medical errors.

In one of these cases the plaintiff was a family whose baby suffered brain damage because of the inexperience and poor judgement of a pediatrician. The baby was delivered as planned through a cesarean section, but she was very pale and tests showed that her level of red blood cells was too low. The baby needed a transfusion, but the pediatrician on staff was not experienced in the procedure.

The doctor and other staff waited far too long, over two hours, before contacting another medical facility for assistance. By then it was too late, and although the transfusion was given the girl had suffered serious brain damage and is now in need of constant care and has lifelong medical needs. The family sued the hospital and doctor responsible, and although the case was set to go to trial the defendants settled before that could happen and paid the family $4.5 million.

Damages recovered by victims can far exceed the amount the family won, thanks to the fact that the state has no cap or limit on this kind of compensation. A big case ended in 2017 with a $40 million jury award to the patient. The patient, who had a clotting disorder and was often on blood thinners, went to Rhode Island Hospital in 2010 with back pain and fatigue. The doctors wanted to perform a colonoscopy and recommended he stay off the blood thinners until the procedures.

Two days later he went to the hospital and was found to be over-coagulated. The doctors still told him to stay off the blood thinners, and six days later he was very sick and had multiple blood clots in his legs. At the hospital he was given anti-coagulants, but it was too late to save his leg, which had become gangrenous and had to be amputated. The man’s lawyer argued for damages to cover his medical costs but also anxiety, depression, lack of mobility caused by the amputation, and resulting social isolation.

Another big case ended in an award of $25 million, again against Rhode Island Hospital. A man went to the hospital after hitting his head, but the staff misdiagnosed him and failed to recognize that his symptoms and condition were getting worse. By the time he was treated he was in bad shape with permanent injuries. The damage was severe enough that his wife had to be made his legal guardian. She sued the hospital and won the $25 million from the jury who agreed that they had suffered because of obvious negligence.

Working with a Rhode Island Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If you received medical care in Rhode Island and believe that negligence caused you harm and suffering, you may have a case for malpractice. You will need a good Rhode Island medical malpractice lawyer to guide you through the next steps you need to take to file a lawsuit, gather evidence, find expert witnesses, and make your case to recover damages.

To find a good lawyer to handle your case, contact the state bar association to determine which lawyers are in good standing in the state and specialize in medical malpractice. You need this specific expertise to help make your case because the laws are complex and difficult to navigate without experience. When you find the lawyer you want to work with, make sure that you share all the information needed to make your case and prove negligence, including past and current medical records and everything you recall about the incident. When you find the right lawyer and have a good working relationship, you can be sure that your case has the best chance of success.