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Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

If you believe that you or someone in your family has been hurt by the negligence of a doctor, hospital, or other health care provider, you probably have several questions. “How do I file a claim?” “How do I prove my case?” “If I win, how much will the judgment be?”

Another important question – sometimes overlooked by those who are not familiar with the civil justice system – is, “How long do I have to file a Cape Cod medical malpractice lawsuit?” Generally speaking, the answer to this question is “three years.” However, calculating the exact date that a claim becomes time-barred can sometimes be difficult. This is because determining the date that the claim begins to run (and the three-year clock begins to tick) is not always simple.

Facts of the Case

In a recent (unreported) case, the plaintiff was a man who claimed that he suffered an injury to his urethra due to a nurse’s negligent catheterization of him when he was a patient at the defendant hospital in October 2009. The plaintiff was reportedly told that he might urinate blood for a short while but that the bleeding would stop soon. The plaintiff not only had bloody discharge in his urine, but also he experienced painful urination that lasted for several years. However, he did not return to the defendant hospital for further medical treatment until June 2012. According to the plaintiff, he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and a phobia that made him fearful of seeking medical attention.

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Most Cape Cod medical malpractice cases are settled out of court, but some do proceed to trial. During trial, it is likely that at least a couple of expert medical witnesses will testify, one on behalf of the plaintiff and one on behalf of the defendant.

Because a lot can hinge on the testimony of the parties’ respective witnesses, it is not unusual for evidentiary and procedural issues to arise during this phase of the trial.

It is up to the trial court judge to resolve these issues, subject to review by the appellate court if either party seeks a review of the trial court’s decision(s) in this regard.

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Massachusetts medical malpractice law requires that a party who is seeking to assert a claim of negligence against a health care practitioner provide proof of his or her claim before a malpractice review tribunal before his or her case can proceed to a regular court of law.

If the tribunal does not find enough evidence for the case to continue, the plaintiff does have an “out,” in that he or she can post a bond. If this is not economically feasible, the plaintiff also has the option of appealing the tribunal’s decision to the appellate court for further review.

Facts of the Case

In a recent wrongful death case considered by the Massachusetts Appeals Court, the plaintiff was the personal representative of the estate of a 29-year-old woman who died while under the care of the defendant doctors and others. The decedent presented herself at the hospital when she was 38 1/2 weeks pregnant, complaining that she was in labor. She was in good health and had given birth two two children previously. She died at the hospital some 25 hours later.

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Filing a Cape Cod medical malpractice lawsuit is a multi-step process. Unlike other types of negligence cases (such as those stemming from car crashes or slip and fall accidents), a plaintiff must first present his or her proof to a reviewing board. If this tribunal does not find that the plaintiff has presented sufficient evidence so as to warrant a trial, his or her case will be dismissed unless a bond is posted.

However, the tribunal’s decision is reviewable by the courts, and sometimes such the tribunal’s decision is reversed on appeal.

Facts of the Case

In a recent (unreported) Massachusetts Appeals Court case, the plaintiff was the personal representative of the estate of a man who allegedly died due to the negligence of the defendants, two hospitals and several doctors. The plaintiff presented her case to a medical malpractice tribunal, which ruled that there was not enough evidence to raise a legitimate issue of liability as to four of the physicians or as to one of the hospitals. The plaintiff did not post the bond required under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 231, § 60B, and thus the trial court dismissed her case as to those defendants. She appealed.

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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.

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.