Oregon Medical Malpractice Laws
Each state has their own set of medical malpractice laws in place, and it is important for patients to understand those laws and how they could affect their case. The following are the basics of the laws in Oregon.
Medical Malpractice Oregon
Medical malpractice cases in the state of Oregon can help those who have suffered from an injury get some compensation to help make recovering easier. In Oregon, there are different types of complaints that can turn into a malpractice case. It all depends on how the health care provider acted, and whether or not the actions were something that could have been avoided. The best way to approach filing a claim of malpractice is with the aid of a medical malpractice attorney. Attorneys know what are the ins and outs of the penal system in Oregon, and know what methods work best to improve the chances of getting a positive outcome for the plaintiff.
Defining Medical Malpractice for the State of Oregon
Oregon law states that medical malpractice is when a medical professional acted in such a way that the plaintiff was left facing an injury. It could also be that death was the result of the treatment. The injured patient must prove a few things in court to establish that malpractice took place. This includes:
- That the medical professional and the plaintiff were working together for the health care of the plaintiff. It could have been a long-standing relationship or even just a one-time visit to the ER, but there must be some established relationship.
- What level of professional care the plaintiff should have been able to reasonably expect at the time the injury took place. This is referred to as the standard of care.
- How the medical professional in question did not meet the established level of care, and in specific instances, did not provide the type of expected care to the plaintiff.
- Establishing a connection between the plaintiff’s injury and the medical professional in question.
The best way to make sure each of these elements can be proven is to have expert witnesses establish the proper type of care patients should receive, as well as how subpar care could lead to the injuries in question.
What Types of Medical Malpractice Could Result in a Lawsuit?
Many different types of injuries could qualify for a medical malpractice claim. Some of the more common mistakes include:
- Ordering the wrong medication, a type of medication that the patient was allergic to, a medication that counteracted with medicine that the patient was already on, or the wrong dose of a medication that resulted in an injury
- Operating on the wrong part of the body, leaving surgical materials in the site after the procedure was complete, or performing any surgical procedure that the patient did not need at all
- Not paying attention to the vitals of a patient which then results in the patient’s condition declining, or even in the patient dying
- Anyone not getting the type of medical history that would have helped with a diagnosis or ignoring information in the current history that could have helped with the diagnosis and treatment process
- Leaving a patient disfigured after a routine medical procedure
- Not noticing signs of an infection from obvious symptoms or not asking about recent medical procedures that could leave a patient facing a post-op infection
- Neglecting follow-up care or not providing the type of aftercare instructions that a patient should get prior to discharge
- Using equipment that has known issues, using the wrong equipment to diagnose a problem or not ordering a test using available equipment that would speed up the diagnosis process
- Not ordering common tests that could make diagnosis possible or misreading any results that would have resulted in a proper diagnosis
- Diagnosing the wrong ailment when a much more common problem fit the symptoms better than the diagnosed treatment
Once a Malpractice Case Is Started, What Type of Investigation Happens?
The courts take things slightly differently with medical malpractice suits in Oregon. The process starts with an investigation. This involves the Oregon Medical Board looking into issues like improper care, hospital neglect, prescription abuse, and impaired medical professionals. However, they do not look into issues where someone believes they have an inflated bill, dirty facilities, and unlicensed medical staff. Typically, each year the board receives approximately 800 investigation complaints. Out of those, approximately half results in an in-depth investigation that can be used in court.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Oregon Medical Malpractice Claims?
When filing a medical negligence claim in Oregon, it is important to make sure that all claims are filed within the allotted time. For Oregon residents, there are two different times under the statute of limitations. First, there is a two-year time limit. From the date that the injury occurred, or from when the actual injury became obvious, the claim must be filed in court within two years. However, the second time limit may also apply. This second-time limit is five years. When an injury does not show up immediately or is not obvious to the plaintiff, they have five years from when the injury must have happened to file the claim.
There are a few different exemptions that can happen for Oregon residents, however. In the case of a wrongful death claim, the estate of a loved one who passed has three years from the date that the person was injured, when the injury became obvious or when the person passed away. However, the five-year time limit also applies if the injury did not become apparent any sooner.
Another exemption that is possible for Oregon residents is set up for children. Any injury that happened to a child prior to the day the child turned 18 has five years to file a claim, meaning the claim must be filed by the day that the child turns 23. This allows any injured child to see what lifelong effects the injury would have so that proper compensation can be determined.
Finally, anyone deemed insane also has an exemption. They have five years from the date they are diagnosed as no longer insane to file a claim. This allows them to figure out what type of impact the injury will have and figure out what type of compensation would match, should the medical professional be found guilty of malpractice.
Does Oregon Award Malpractice Damages?
Oregon has both monetary damages and non-economic damages. Each type of damage goes after a different type of compensation. Monetary damages go after things like:
- Wages that the injured party is unable to earn because of the injury
- Bills that come from the injury itself, such as medical bills, prescription costs, and therapy costs
- Medical equipment that the plaintiff now requires to move, function, or relearn any lost skills
- Additional medical procedures that help with the recovery from the initial injury
Non-economic damages are different, and some of them are subject to a damages cap. These include:
- Pain and suffering which is the most common damage awarded under this category
- Distress that the plaintiff went through as a result of the injury, or that the family went through because of the death of a loved one
- Compensation to cover the loss of things like quality and enjoyment of life, companionship or consortium
The cap for these types of damages is $500,000, but only in the case of wrongful death directly caused by medical malpractice. However, there is no cap placed on the monetary damages when there is a death involved. All medical bills and the likes can get paid off by the damages the court awards if guilt is found as a result of the case.
Also, Oregon can limit damages through comparative fault. However, it limits damages only up to half. If the plaintiff is found to be half or more at fault, the case closes, and no damages are awarded. A personal injury case in Oregon has the ability to go through and see who is at fault. In some cases, that includes the plaintiff. So long as the plaintiff is half or less at fault, the amount of damages awarded by the judge will be cut down by the percentage allotted to the plaintiff. For example, if the plaintiff is 10 percent at fault, they will receive 10 percent fewer damages when the case is over.
There is also a joint liability in Oregon. This means that if there is more than one defendant found guilty, the court will determine the percentage each is responsible. From there, each defendant will pay their percentage of the total damages awarded by the judge.
Should People Only File Oregon Medical Malpractice Claims With an Experienced Attorney?
When it comes to an Oregon medical malpractice case, the only way a plaintiff should move forward with them is with an experienced medical malpractice attorney or well-known law firm by his or her side. Attorneys bring a lot of experience, education, and knowledge to a medical malpractice lawsuit. They know how to file paperwork to help start the investigation process, how to speak with the insurance company about a settlement, how to respond to the judge, and so much more. Going into court without an attorney is very likely to leave the plaintiff not getting nearly as much compensation for the injury if he or she gets any at all.
An injured party must go into court with a medical malpractice lawyer he or she trusts. This starts with a solid attorney-client relationship. Ask questions prior to agreeing to work with a specific lawyer to find the best lawyer for the job. Some of the most important questions include:
- Does the lawyer have knowledge and experience with the specific injury the plaintiff suffered?
- Does the lawyer think that there is enough evidence to start the process, or is the case lacking what it would need to go to court?
- How many personal injury cases has the lawyer tried in the past, and how many of them were successful?
- What types of fees does the attorney work with, and when will they be due?
- How much time does this attorney have for new cases?
- Does the attorney solely do most of the work, or will others in the office take on some tasks? If others will do some of the tasks, which tasks will be delegated?
- How many people does the lawyer have to work with that he or she could rely on during the case, including assistants, medical experts, paralegals, investigators, and the like?
- Who will actually be gathering the evidence for the case?
Once a plaintiff picks a lawyer, the evidence-gathering will begin, as will processing the documentation needed to go to court. This will include getting medical records together to show off the changes from before and after the injury, as well as any type of witness evidence. This can include statements from people who were around when the injury took place. Plus, it can also include videos that were taken in the medical institution or by bystanders around the time of the injury. Medical bills, payments made for prescriptions or therapy, and any payments the plaintiff has received from other sources regarding the injury will also be added up so the court can see the financial impact of the injury. This evidence will all go to the court when the claim is looked at by the judge and help determine the guilt of the defendant if any exists.
Medical malpractice cases show up all around the United States. However, when they show up in Oregon, they must follow the rules of the state. This involves an initial investigation, submitting documents within the proper times, and remaining within the stated caps for damages sought. This should only be done with an experienced lawyer to aid in the process. Without an attorney by the plaintiff’s side, the process will be more difficult and less likely to pay out. To give the courts’ the best chance possible to pay out on proper malpractice cases, all the rules the Oklahoma law has set forth must be followed.