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Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

When someone acts carelessly and causes harm to another, a negligence claim may lie under Massachusetts law. In some situations, the injured individual may have another claim as well. For example, the plaintiff in a recent case filed in federal court alleged that she had been the victim of negligence with regard to certain medical care (that she claimed she needed while a pre-trial detainee), while also asserting a civil rights claim under civil law. If you have questions of this nature, be sure to reach out to a Massachusetts personal injury attorney for answers.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recent federal case was a pre-trial detainee at a correctional institute. She filed suit against the defendants, a doctor and the healthcare group that employed him, seeking compensation for injuries she allegedly suffered due to the worsening of a medical condition that she had had for some time. According to the plaintiff, she had psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis and had been taking a certain medication prior to being lodged at the correctional institute (from which she was eventually released). She claimed that the defendants should have allowed her to continue taking that particular medication (rather than a combination of less expensive alternatives) and that their failure to do so amounted to a violation of her civil rights under federal law and also constituted negligence under Massachusetts state law.

The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts granted summary judgment to the defendants on the plaintiff’s federal claim, holding that a reasonable jury could not find that there was deliberate indifference to the plaintiff’s serious medical needs by the defendants. The court also dismissed (without prejudice) the plaintiff’s negligence claim after ruling that she did not have a viable claim under federal law. The plaintiff appealed.

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If you or someone in your family has suffered harm at the hands of a medical professional, such as a doctor or nurse, you should know your legal rights – and your obligations at trial. It is important to note that the plaintiff has the burden of proof in a medical negligence case, meaning that he or she has to provide proof of each element of the case sufficient to convince the jury beyond a preponderance of the evidence.

Seeking fair compensation in a Massachusetts medical malpractice lawsuit can be a complex task. As compared to a traditional tort case arising from, for instance, an auto accident, a medical negligence case may trigger more demanding procedural requirements, including the posting of a bond in some instances. As with other types of litigation, a person who believes that they may have a cause of action against a health care worker for medical malpractice should seek counsel as soon as possible.

Facts of the Case

In a recent (unreported) case, the plaintiff was a man who sued the defendant hospital, averring that he had been the victim of an act of medical negligence. Apparently, the plaintiff did not have an attorney, either at trial or on appeal. This put him at a serious disadvantage, making it exceptionally difficult to win his case. He began his appeal by complaining to the court of appeals that the trial court had been error in declining to appoint counsel to represent him as he pursed monetary compensation against the defendant hospital. He also argued that the trial court should have reduced the amount of the bond required by Massachusetts General Laws ch. 231, § 60B. (His failure to post the required bond resulted in dismissal of his case.)

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The underlying premise of the body of law known as “negligence” is that those who breach a duty to those whom such a duty is owed should be held financially liable for the foreseeable consequences of their action (or inaction, as the case may be).

This means that, in a Massachusetts wrongful death lawsuit, the plaintiff has the duty of proving all four elements of negligence (duty, breach of duty, damages, and causation) by a preponderance of the evidence.

Typically, the arguments at trial revolve around whether a duty was breached and, if so, how money the plaintiff should be awarded for his or her losses. However, sometimes the parties disagree as to whether the defendant owed a legal duty to the plaintiff under the circumstances of the case. In such a situation, it is up to the courts to decide.

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Unlike other personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits, Massachusetts medical malpractice claims must be reviewed by a special tribunal before they may proceed in a regular courtroom. If the tribunal does not believe the claim has merit, the plaintiff has the option of filing a bond and continuing with his or her case. A recent appellate court decision dealt with this procedure, answering the question of whether the bond has to be in cash or whether a surety bond will suffice.Facts of the Case

In the recently reviewed appellate case, the plaintiff was a man who sought to recover compensation for an alleged act of medical negligence by the defendant health care provider. He commenced his action pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws chapter 231, § 60B, and a medical malpractice tribunal was convened to review the evidence against the defendant. After consideration, the tribunal concluded that the plaintiff had not presented sufficient evidence to raise a legitimate question of liability appropriate for judicial inquiry, as required under Massachusetts law.

Under Massachusetts law, a would-be plaintiff whose claim is rejected by the medical malpractice tribunal has the option of posting a $6,000 bond and then pursuing his or her claim through the usual judicial process. Rather than post the $6,000 bond in cash, however, the plaintiff posted a “surety bond,” which cost him only $120 out-of-pocket. The defendant moved to strike the surety bond and dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint. The trial court judge allowed the motion and then reported the situation to the appeals court, who then transferred the case to the appellate tribunal on its own initiative.

Modern medicine is a complicated endeavor in which an individual may see several different medical providers for various conditions. Unless these providers are able to communicate effectively with one another for the patient’s benefit, tragedy can result.A recent Massachusetts medical malpractice case arose from just such a situation. In the case, a former teacher and marathon runner incurred permanent injuries that will require around-the-clock care for the rest of her life – all because a doctor failed to note an MRI report properly on her medical chart.

Facts of the Case

In a medical malpractice case recently reviewed by the Massachusetts Appeals Court, the plaintiff was a woman who suffered severe complications (including a month-long coma and permanent paralysis in her legs and left hand) during childbirth, as an alleged result of her primary care physician’s failure to note a “venous varix” medical condition (which is similar to an aneurysm) on her medical chart. At trial, the plaintiff argued that the complications could have been avoided had her obstetrician known of her medical condition and performed a C-section rather than using the Valsava maneuver during vaginal labor.

There are many procedural hoops that must be jumped through in order for a person injured by an act of medical negligence to be successful in a Cape Cod medical malpractice lawsuit. While potential pitfalls are common in the area of negligence law, this is particularly so in claims against doctors, hospitals, nurses, and so on. Unfortunately, this sometimes means that an otherwise valid (and potentially very valuable) claim falls through the cracks due to a technicality.

Facts of the Case

In a recent (unreported) Massachusetts Appeals Court case, the plaintiff was a woman who sought compensation for the alleged medical malpractice of several defendants related to complications from gallbladder removal surgery she underwent in 2013. In an earlier case, the plaintiff (on her own behalf and on the behalf of her two minor children) asserted claims against a hospital, a surgeon, and two “John Doe” (unknown) defendants, claiming that she had suffered a bile duct injury during her surgery that required her to undergo several other (otherwise unnecessary) medical procedures later. That case was dismissed by the medical malpractice tribunal on the ground that the plaintiff had not provided sufficient evidence to raise a legitimate question of liability, and the plaintiff’s complaint was dismissed with prejudice.

Filing a claim for medical negligence in Cape Cod or elsewhere in Massachusetts can be a complicated endeavor. It pays to talk to an attorney as soon as possible after suspecting that you or someone close to you has been hurt by an act of medical malpractice.

It takes a considerable amount of time to properly investigate and substantiate a medical malpractice claim. If the appropriate paperwork is not completed in a timely fashion – or if the offer of proof submitted to the medical malpractice tribunal does not meet the requirements of Massachusetts medical malpractice law – the case is subject to dismissal, even if the plaintiff was severely injured or even passed away because of a medical provider’s mistake.

Facts of the Case

Unlike car accident or slip and fall cases, Cape Cod medical malpractice lawsuits require that the plaintiff make an offer of proof before a special tribunal. If the tribunal does not find that the plaintiff’s offer is adequate, the plaintiff may post a bond within a certain time period, or he or she may appeal the case to the appellate court for a review of the tribunal’s finding.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recent (unreported) appellate case was the personal representative of the estate of a man who died after suffering a full cardiac arrest in 2012. The man, who was 46 years old at the time of his death, had been under the care of the defendant physician (a primary care physician). The plaintiff’s complaint sounded in medical negligence, including allegations that the defendant’s failure to “appreciate and address” the decedent’s heart disease violated the applicable standard of care and caused his premature death.

When a Cape Cod medical malpractice lawsuit goes to trial, there are usually multiple witnesses who testify in front of the jury. This includes not only the parties to the case but also the expert witnesses who are retained by each side to render an opinion as to the applicable standard of care, whether the defendant violated that standard, and the injuries suffered by the victim if so.

Sometimes, a particular witness cannot be present at trial, so his or her testimony is secured outside the courtroom, in advance, via a deposition. However, there are limitations on when a deposition may be used in lieu of live testimony.

Facts of the Case

In most Cape Cod medical malpractice lawsuits, the defendant health care provider has a policy of professional negligence liability coverage in place to protect his or her personal assets in the event of a judgment against him or her. Typically, the medical professional is only personally liable to the extent that a judgment is awarded by a jury in excess of the policy limits.

A recent case raised the issue of whether a medical malpractice insurance company must obtain permission from its insured before settling a claim within the policy limits.

Facts of the Case