Washington has seen its fair share of medical malpractice claims. Reflecting on the 2023 Medical Malpractice Annual Report from the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner. From 2018 to 2022, there was an average of $1.4 million per paid settlement in medical malpractice claims in Washington. This highlights the seriousness and financial implications of medical malpractice cases in the region.

Understanding whether you have a valid medical malpractice case requires a grasp of several critical criteria. In Spokane, Craig Swapp & Associates stands in representing victims of medical malpractice cases. As an experienced Washington medical malpractice lawyer team, we understand the local legal landscape and can help navigate your case toward a potentially successful outcome.

4 Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim in Spokane

When considering a medical malpractice lawsuit in Spokane, it is crucial to understand each of the 4 elements required to establish a claim in Washington State. These elements form the foundation of your case and are essential to your Spokane medical malpractice lawyer, to evaluate and pursue your claim successfully.

  • Duty of Care – The duty of care in a medical context refers to the obligation of healthcare providers to adhere to a standard of reasonable care while performing any acts that could foreseeably harm patients. This duty is established when a healthcare provider-patient relationship is formed. It means the provider must deliver care at the accepted standard within the medical community. For instance, a doctor diagnosing and treating a patient would be expected to offer the same level of skill and care as a reasonably competent professional in the same field.
  • Breach of Duty A breach of duty occurs when a healthcare provider fails to meet the standard of care expected in their professional duties. This often involves showing that a provider acted differently than other professionals would have in a similar situation. This could be an act of omission (failing to do something) or commission (doing something improperly). For example, if a surgeon performs a procedure without considering the patient’s known allergies, which results in harm, this could be seen as a breach of the standard of care.
  • Injury Due to Breach It must be proven that the breach of duty directly caused injury to the patient. This is more than a temporal relationship; it requires showing that the injury would not have occurred without the provider’s breach. Medical records, expert testimony, and other documentation are used to establish the link between the breach and the injury. If a patient suffers complications from a surgery where a surgical instrument was left inside them, the causation between the breach (leaving the instrument) and the injury (complications) is clear.
  • Damages – Damages in medical malpractice can be economic (such as medical bills and lost wages) or non-economic (such as pain and suffering and loss of life quality). The patient must show that the injury led to specific damages. This often requires detailed medical bills, employment records, and testimony about the impact on the patient’s life. If a patient can no longer work due to a medical error would claim lost wages as part of their damages. These elements are crucial for any potential medical malpractice lawsuit in Spokane. If you believe your situation fits these criteria, consulting a medical malpractice lawyer in Spokane can provide invaluable insight and guidance.

Filing a Medical Malpractice Claims

When you have established the foundational criteria for a medical malpractice claim in Spokane, WA, it is essential to understand the subsequent steps.

  • Filing the Complaint – Your Spokane medical malpractice lawyer will prepare and file a legal complaint against the healthcare provider or institution responsible for your injury. This document outlines your allegations and the damages you seek.
  • Discovery Process – After filing the lawsuit, you and the other party engage in discovery, exchanging information and evidence relevant to the case. This may include depositions, where witnesses provide sworn testimony outside of court.
  • Pre-Trial Motions and Settlement Discussions – Before the trial, there may be various motions and legal arguments. Additionally, there is often an opportunity for settlement discussions, where a resolution can be reached without going to trial.
  • Trial – If a settlement is not reached, your case will proceed to trial. Here, evidence is presented, and witnesses, including medical experts, may testify. The jury (or judge in a bench trial) will then decide whether the defendant was negligent and, if so, the amount of damages to be awarded.

Remember, each medical malpractice case is unique, and the guidance of an experienced medical malpractice lawyer in Spokane is invaluable in seeking justice and fair compensation.

Types of Settlements in Medical Malpractice Cases

As reported in the 2023 Medical Malpractice Annual Report by the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner, the two primary settlements in medical malpractice lawsuits in Washington are:

  • Total Paid Indemnity – Total paid indemnity refers to the monetary compensation awarded to victims of medical malpractice. This sum is intended to cover various damages incurred due to the malpractice.
  • Medical Expenses: Costs for medical treatment, rehabilitation, and any future medical care required due to the injury.
  • Lost Wages: Compensation for the income lost during the period of illness or recovery. This also considers the potential future earnings lost due to the malpractice.
  • Pain and Suffering: This covers the non-economic damages such as physical pain, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and other forms of suffering caused by medical negligence.

The amount is typically calculated based on the severity of the injury, the impact on the victim’s life, and the long-term implications of the malpractice.

  • Legal Expenses – Legal expenses in a medical malpractice case encompass all costs associated with pursuing the lawsuit. These are over and above the compensation for the injury itself.
  • Attorney Fees: These may vary depending on the agreement between the client and the attorney, often based on a contingency fee arrangement.
  • Court Costs: Fees associated with filing the lawsuit, court appearances, and administrative expenses.
  • Evidence Gathering: Costs incurred in collecting and preparing evidence, which may include medical record retrieval, expert witness fees, and costs for depositions.

Legal expenses can significantly impact the net settlement received by the plaintiff. It is essential to have a clear understanding with your legal representation about how these costs are covered.

Does Your Situation Qualify for a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

If you believe you have been a victim of medical malpractice in Spokane, WA, it is essential to act promptly. Consulting with our Spokane medical malpractice lawyer at Craig Swapp & Associates can provide clarity on your situation and help you understand the best course of action.

Written By: Ryan Swapp     Legal Review By: Craig Swapp