Legal Guide

5 Interesting Facts You Should Know About Medical Malpractice Law

What most of us know about medical malpractice law may entirely consist of information gained from TV dramas like Grey's Anatomy or ER. Or perhaps noteworthy but rarer cases, such as instances where a wrong leg was removed. So if you are looking to expand your knowledge of medical malpractice law by a little, here are 5 facts that are interesting to take note of.

  1. Medical malpractice has a long history.

Even during the reign of the Roman Empire, medical malpractice was acknowledged as a crime. Roman law was introduced to Europe during this time. And after the Norman conquest of Rome, records kept in the Court of Common Law and the Plea Rolls show a line of very early medical malpractice cases. One of the more notable of these cases showed a ruling in favor of a servant and his master during the 12th century. Why was the doctor sued? For use of unwholesome medicine that made the servant even more ill than before the treatment had begun.

  1. Repeat offenders.

According to a study found the New England Journal of Medicine, it is only certain doctors you need to be wary of. The study calls them claim-prone physicians. According to Lowenthal & Abrams, a medical malpractice lawyer firm in Philadelphia, "Some repeat offenders have been found liable for malpractice more than 6 times. Those doctors are twelve times more likely than other physicians to commit malpractice in the future. And yet, they keep practicing medicine on their unsuspecting patients. These medical professionals are a risk to the health and well-being of their patients. But, no one stops them." The takeaway here? We might do well to do our research when it comes to doctors and attending physicians.

  1. Statute of limitations.

Medical malpractice laws vary from state to state. As do the statute of limitations. So, no, you probably can't sue a doctor who treated you as a child, even though you do suspect they were the cause of some present-day ailment. Not going to happen. For most states, the statute of limitations is 2 years. But some states, such as Missouri and Virginia have up to 10 years in which you can file a claim. Some states also further specify that the statute of limitations begins from the time the negligent act was performed. And not from the time the patient becomes aware of the act.

  1. There is a cap to compensation.

People walking away with millions of dollars in compensation? That kind of thing generally only happens on TV. In real life, compensation awarded by a judge or jury must be within limits set by the state. Although, it is true that not all states have a cap, most do. So if you are wondering how much a possible malpractice suit is worth, first consider where the suit will be filed. And you will get a better idea of how it might play out.

  1. Good Samaritan laws.

With the rise of medical malpractice suits has grown a hesitancy on the part of bystanders to help people who are in trouble. An odd side effect, but real enough to spawn Good Samaritan laws across the world. These laws are meant to protect individuals who assist an injured person, or one who is in danger.

The details of what constitutes a Good Samaritan law varies.

For example, Alaska's Good Samaritan law is listed under their “Civil liability for emergency aid” statute. It states that a person who gives emergency care to a person to avoid serious harm or death is not liable for damages as a result of an act in rendering aid.

So the next time you see someone in need of help, you can go ahead and lend a hand without too much fear of repercussion. But maybe just read this list first.

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