During this difficult time, Boohoff Law will remain committed to the people of Florida & Washington. We are still available 7 days a week to injured victims who need our help, and we offer FREE PHONE CONSULTATIONS and Electronic Sign-Ups.

Simple Steps Pedestrians Can Take to Manage the Aftermath of an Accident

Nearly every child is taught to stop and look both ways before crossing the street. Unfortunately, even those who cautiously heed this advice are still at risk of being involved in a motor vehicle-pedestrian accident.

The Governors Highway Safety Association reports that over a recent ten year period, pedestrian traffic fatalities in the United States increased by 53 percent. In the most recent year, pedestrian fatalities accounted for 17 percent of total traffic deaths, accounting for a 12 percent increase from the first year of the study. For comparison, during that same period, all other traffic-related fatalities increased by only 2 percent.

While advancements in motor vehicle safety features provide additional protection to vehicle occupants, pedestrians remain vulnerable to serious injuries in traffic accidents.

As a pedestrian, after experiencing an accident involving a motor vehicle, you need to take immediate action to protect your health, safety, and legal rights.

Keep Calm, but Spring Into Action

Of course, some individuals may sustain serious injuries in a pedestrian accident that prevent them from taking action at the scene. Immediately following an accident, it is most important for pedestrians to preserve their health and safety. If you have suffered serious injuries, remain calm and still until emergency responders arrive.

You should call the police immediately or, if you cannot do so, ask a companion or bystander to contact law enforcement. Ensure that the other driver remains on the scene of the accident until the police arrive. Allowing the driver to leave the scene of the accident may make it difficult to reconstruct the circumstances of the accident when providing information for a police report.

When the police respond to an accident, they are required to compile an official police report that should cover all relevant accident details. However, you may also want to gather additional evidence at the scene that may support a later claim for damages, should you decide to pursue legal action.

Helpful evidence may include photos of the scene of the accident, including vehicle damage, street signs, traffic signals, crosswalk markings, and other helpful landmarks. You should record notes summarizing your recollection of the events leading up to the accident. Locate any security or surveillance cameras that may have captured the incident.

Seek out eyewitnesses, and obtain their contact information. Ask the driver for his or her identification, registration, and insurance information.

However, you should limit your communications with the driver to simply gathering their contact information. Refrain from making statements that may be construed as admissions of fault—your words or actions following an accident may be used to undermine a claim for damages. Do not apologize for talking on your phone or not noticing that the vehicle had a green light when you stepped off the curb. Save these details for a conversation with your lawyer at a later date.

In the aftermath of an accident, many victims experience an increase in adrenaline that may mask serious injuries. Avoid making statements that indicate you are not injured. Even if you feel that your injuries are only minor, be sure to seek a medical evaluation.

Some serious and even life-threatening injuries may not immediately exhibit symptoms, and internal injuries may require a professional diagnosis. By seeking medical attention as soon as possible, medical records can serve as documentary evidence of any injuries resulting directly from the accident.

When a driver flees the scene of an accident before the police arrive, you may not obtain their contact or insurance information. According to the American Automobile Association, hit-and-run accidents accounted for almost 20 percent of all pedestrian fatalities in the United States in a recent ten-year period.

If you are the victim of a hit-and-run accident, try to record as many details as you can remember about the vehicle. The vehicle’s make, model, color, and license plate number will be helpful for later attempts to identify the driver. investigation of the accident. Witnesses’ observations may also help gather information about a driver who fled the scene.

Maximize Your Recovery by Maintaining Complete Records

Thorough recordkeeping is a useful tool for helping to establish the value of a victim’s claim for damages.

Economic damages are accident-related impacts that have a specified dollar amount. For example, ambulance rides, emergency room visits, and hospital stays. Medical bills, including physicians’ fees, X-rays, medications, physical therapy, or chiropractic treatment may also be included in a claim for economic damages.

Even if your health insurance covers your initial medical expenses, keep receipts for any health care costs you incur. Injured victims may be entitled to seek reimbursement for covered medical expenses from the driver’s insurance company.

Economic damages may also include lost wages if accident injuries prevent a victim from working during their recovery. If your injuries require you to miss time from work, be sure to record the hours you couldn’t work and the wages you missed out on. If you own a business, note any economic opportunities that you cannot capitalize on while recovering from your injuries.

Injured victims may also be entitled to non-economic damages to account for other impacts the accident has on their lives. Noneconomic damages serve to compensate victims for the consequences of an accident that affect their quality of life.

Accidents, especially those resulting in injury, may cause emotional or mental distress that remains long after the accident is over. Severe injuries that cause long-term disability or permanent disfigurement may warrant an award of noneconomic damages. Record any hardships that interfere with your day-to-day activities and well-being.

How Can an Experienced Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Help?

As you recover physically, mentally, and financially from an accident, you should consider consulting with an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer. A lawyer can help injured victims identify impacts of the accident, calculate costs incurred, and estimate future expenses. Attorneys can be instrumental in identifying additional potentially liable parties.

For example, perhaps the driver’s steering wheel locked up, which caused the accident to occur. In these circumstances, victims may have a claim for damages against the vehicle’s manufacturer or a mechanic who improperly repaired the vehicle. On the other hand, maybe another driver made an unsafe maneuver, causing the driver who hit you to take evasive action, which led to the crash. The other driver may share liability for the accident.

Victims who are entitled to file a pedestrian accident claim are subject to the statute of limitations. Individuals must file a claim within a specified time period, or they risk losing their right to seek compensation. Experienced pedestrian accident attorneys can ensure victims meet the procedural deadlines required by law, ensuring they preserve their right to file a claim.

In addition to the childhood advice of looking both ways before you cross the street, the National Safety Council provides the following pedestrian safety tips:

  • Focus your attention on walking. Do not use your phone or headphones while walking along city streets.
  • Avoid walking along roadways while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • At night, stay visible to drivers by wearing bright clothes and using a flashlight or reflectors.
  • Observe traffic rules applicable to pedestrians. Use the sidewalk, pay attention to traffic signs, and cross at marked crosswalks if possible.

If you follow these safety tips but still end up in the path of a careless motorist, by following these steps, you can protect yourself. Proactively collect accident information, keep thorough records of your out-of-pocket costs and other losses, and contact our experienced pedestrian accident attorney.

Who Pays the Medical Bills After a Car Accident?

After a car accident, you are ultimately responsible for your medical bills, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t pursue compensation from other sources. In most cases, an insurance company will pay the bills. However, doctors, medical professionals, and medical organizations expect you to pay them sooner rather than later, and an insurance claim might take longer, especially if you initiated settlement negotiations or litigation against an insurance company.

Handling Your Medical Bills in the Early Stages of Negotiations or Litigation

Most medical professionals understand that your injuries might preclude you from working. These professionals may also know that insurance companies often take from 30 to 90 days to pay on a claim. Given this, most doctors and hospitals are open to working with you on developing a payment plan.

Call the doctor and/or medical facility to advise them that you are working with an attorney on a settlement or possible litigation. Most will stop trying to collect until the settlement goes through or until the court makes a ruling in your case. You can also request that doctors forego reporting any late payments on your credit report until after you receive the settlement or court-awarded damages amount.

Showing Proof of Legal Action

Your doctors might ask you to show proof of your settlement negotiations or litigation. Your attorney can draft a letter letting them know that you have retained an attorney, and that you are in the process of settlement negotiations or litigation. However, your attorney cannot give you an exact date for the completion of your legal proceedings.

If you are in settlement negotiations, the insurance companies might not agree to a fair and reasonable amount, in which case, you might decide to litigate. In case of litigation, court dates often change, including court dates for final trials.

You do not need to give the doctors or medical facilities the details of your car accident case. If they do ask, refer them to your attorney.

Medical Bills Covered by a Settlement

Medical expenses fall under economic damages, as medical expenses have a dollar amount associated with them.

Your settlement or trial award should cover:

  • Past medical expenses, which are those from the time of the accident through the time of settlement or your trial award, and
  • Future medical expenses, which are those that you incur after you receive the settlement or trial award.

Medical expenses include the costs of surgery, follow-up appointments, any medical equipment you might need, upgrading your home with shower handles, installing wheelchair ramps, and other action that you must take to make it easier for you to remain self-sufficient, particularly if your injuries caused long-term disabilities. Your medical expenses also include the costs of on-going cognitive therapy, physical therapy, and psychological therapy.

Future Medical Expenses

If your injuries caused long-term or permanent disabilities, you most likely have future medical expenses related to the accident.

Injuries that may cause long-term or permanent disabilities include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Injuries to your nerves, including in your arms, hands, feet, and legs
  • Neck and shoulder injuries

Many of these injuries can cause an individual’s muscles to atrophy without constant physical therapy.

A catastrophic accident, or even just witnessing one, may cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Hearing certain sounds or seeing certain things can cause anxiety and panic. Some people also suffer from depression because their injuries prevent them from working. Even those that can go back to work, but cannot earn as much as they did before the accident, may suffer from depression from worrying about how to make ends meet. Having your medical expenses paid for alleviates some of that worry.

Other Economic Damages

In addition to having your medical expenses paid, you can also have other economic damages paid, such as past and future lost wages. As with medical expenses, past lost wages include those from the time of your accident through the time of settlement or trial. Future lost wages are for those you expect to miss out on after your case is concluded.

If you can go back to work, but you can no longer perform your regular job duties and have to take a pay cut, you may receive partial lost wages for the difference in what you currently earn and what you earned before the accident.

Non-Economic Damages

Having your medical expenses paid doesn’t help you pay your other bills, particularly if you can no longer work.

If your injuries caused long-term or permanent disabilities, you might also collect non-economic damages, including compensation for:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of use of a body part
  • Loss of use of a bodily function
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Amputation
  • Disfigurement
  • Inconvenience

The non-economic damages that you recover are not intended to make you physically whole again, nor do they bring back a loved one you lost because of an accident, but such compensation can help you provide for your family when you lose your income. Non-economic damages help alleviate the stress caused by worrying about paying bills, including your medical bills, especially when you know that you will have medical issues for the rest of your life.

Punitive Damages

The court might also award punitive damages in your case. To qualify, you must prove that the defendant’s actions were grossly negligent or intentional. Courts award punitive damages to punish defendants for their actions and to deter future similar behavior, but this money can also help you maintain your previous financial lifestyle, even if you can no longer work. Again, compensation doesn’t take away your pain and suffering or bring back a loved one, but it does help relieve a lot of financial stress, which allows you to focus on your physical and mental recovery.

If you suffer from injuries from a car accident, contact an experienced car accident attorney for a free consultation and to determine your eligibility to seek compensation.

Motorcycle Accidents: What to Do After the Crash?

The open road before you, the wind in your hair, the roar of the engine beneath you; riding a motorcycle is an experience like no other. However, like other exhilarating activities, motorcycle riding is not without its risks.

Around 90,000 motorcycle-related injuries occur every single year, according to the Insurance Information Institute. In fact, 4 percent of all traffic injuries involved motorcycles.

Not only are motorcycles more accident-prone, motorcycle drivers suffer more severe injuries than automobile drivers. The open structure of a motorcycle, which offers less protection than an enclosed automobile, is the primary reason for graver injuries. According to motoshark.com, over 6,000 motorcyclists suffered head injuries in just one year.

Although a motorcycle driver never wants to think about having an accident, especially a severe one, it’s always an eventuality. An accident can change your life in the blink of an eye; knowing how to respond is critical to containing the damage. Astute drivers should always have an idea in their head of what to say, who to call, and where to go.

Every situation is unique, but every rider should keep in mind a few core principles of accident response. Here’s what you should do after a motorcycle accident:

Call the Police

The scene of a serious accident is hectic and unstable; people may be seriously hurt and in need of attention, tempers are flared, and scattered debris (potentially hazardous) and detritus abound. Having law enforcement at the scene ensures the situation gets under control for the benefit of all those involved.

The police are also important fact finders. They can evaluate the scene of the accident, talk to witnesses, take photographs, determine fault, and compile a report. If you decide to file suit, the officer’s report can be introduced as evidence and the officer can even be called to testify.

Additionally, the police are valuable from an insurance perspective. Insurance companies consider the police report to determine fault. Having the police arrive quickly at the scene could mean a quicker payout absent the insurer-insured squabbling that normally follows an accident.

Seek Medical Attention as Soon as Possible

This is critical.

Although your injuries may seem minor at first blush, you should still get examined by a qualified medical professional as soon as possible.

  • Firstly, severe injuries may go unnoticed for days or even weeks. A doctor can detect latent injuries and begin treating them immediately, sparing the injured undue suffering.
  • Secondly, a doctor’s diagnosis may be critical to your lawsuit or settlement negotiations. The amount of compensation you might collect is in part determined by the extent of your injuries and the cost of care. It’s impossible to know with any specificity your injuries, their severity, and what they cost to treat without being seen by a doctor. Additionally, a doctor can be called to testify at a trial if required.

Don’t Admit Fault

Motorcycle accidents are a traumatic and emotional experience, you may have feelings of disorientation and even guilt. However, refrain from discussing fault with anyone at the scene.

It may feel tempting, and even noble, to accept responsibility for what took place, but this a huge mistake for two reasons.

  • Firstly, there may be serious financial and legal ramifications for admitting fault. To start, it may lead to a considerable increase in your insurance premiums if your insurer is required to make payouts. Additionally, if the other party decides to press charges, you may be on the hook for their damages.
  • Secondly, even if you believe you were responsible for the accident, you simply don’t have all the facts needed to determine fault. For example, perhaps another party involved had been driving under the influence at the time the wreck occurred. Unless he was obviously intoxicated, you would have no way of discerning this fact at the scene. The point being fault can only be determined after an investigation by the relevant authorities. By accepting responsibility for the accident you may be causing yourself serious undue harm.

Talk to an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

The hardest part of a serious motorcycle accident can be knowing where to turn. This is why it’s critical to set up an initial consultation with an experienced motorcycle crash attorney as soon as possible.

An attorney can give you options and develop a plan, lending stability to an otherwise unstable situation. Additionally, if you do decide to file a lawsuit it’s critical to have all the necessary pieces in place in as little time as possible. Motorcycle accident lawsuits can require an extensive investigation and complex paperwork and legal maneuvers.

Furthermore, many jurisdictions impose a statute of limitations on motorcycle accident claims, requiring plaintiffs to file suit within a certain amount of time after the accident. Thus, even if you’re unlikely to seek legal recourse, meeting with an attorney ensures that you’re prepared in case your situation changes, as it very well could.

Attorneys are also valuable for reasons not involving litigation. As many accident survivors can attest, getting your insurance company to pay you what you’re owed can be as challenging as the physical and mental toll.

An insurer builds its business around the concept of collecting as much in premiums as possible while paying as little money out as possible. They will often fight tooth and nail to adhere to this logic as closely as possible. Having a lawyer by your side increases the likelihood of a larger payout in a shorter amount of time.

The impact of a serious motorcycle accident can go well-beyond pain and suffering. You may be left with medical debt, financial difficulties, and emotional trauma. Knowing how to respond is critical to getting your life back on track. This means having a plan ready in case you find yourself laying on the pavement. In the chaos following an accident it can be difficult to think clearly, knowing who to call and where to go can save you precious time which may end up saving you considerable hardship. Contact the personal injury lawyers at Boohoff Law P.A. get get the compensation you deserve.

How Can a Truck Accident Lawyer Help?

If you are injured as a result of a truck accident it is a traumatic and often devastating experience. Collisions with trucks sometimes result in serious and severe injuries combined with catastrophic damage. Truck accident cases entail complex legal issues and possible liability of several parties; this can be difficult to navigate successfully without an attorney.

A truck accident lawyer who focuses on these types of accidents is equipped with the necessary experience and knowledge to fight for your rights and get you the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

Your Peace of Mind

In the moments after a truck accident, your immediate attention is on the recovery of your injuries and how to minimize the impacts to your everyday life. Keeping up with the necessary communications, documentation, interviews, and statements required to reach a desirable settlement for your injuries and expenses can be difficult to juggle while in physical rehabilitation. A truck accident lawyer can take this burden off of you and help you maintain your focus on getting better while they guide your case against those responsible for your injuries.

Discover All Potential Liability

The first step to the discovery of potentially liable parties is to determine the type of truck accident that has occurred. The classification of the accident is a good indicator of the potential issues that may have contributed to the incident and your injuries.

Some of the most common types of truck accidents include:

You may think the only party responsible for your injuries is the individual that was driving the truck at the time of the accident. While the driver can be the direct cause of your injuries, many other parties could have played a part in the accident and contributed to your injuries.

An experienced truck accident attorney can research all components of the accident as well as the parties that should be investigated further for potential liability. This will broaden the ability for you to seek the maximum potential compensation for damages in your case.

Parties that could be liable for the injuries sustained in a truck accident include:

  • The truck driverDistracted driving, reckless maneuvers, driving under the influence, drowsiness, and speeding are all examples of instances where a truck driver’s specific actions cause the accident that has occurred.
  • The trucking company – Truck driver employers are notorious for overworking their employees and sometimes failing to comply with the hours of service rules established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Carriers are also expected to be responsible and thorough in their hiring practices and ensure all drivers are properly licensed at all times and have an acceptable driving record.
  • Manufacturer of the truck and those of its parts – While truck drivers and their carriers are expected to routinely maintain, inspect, and repair the rigs there are sometimes instances where a faulty part or equipment creates a dangerous condition leading to an accident or contributes to more severe injuries or damage when an accident occurs.
  • The company responsible for loading the shipment – Improperly loading a shipment of cargo or overloading a truck can cause instability and create a higher risk of accidents.
  • Owner of the goods or cargo in the truckHazardous cargo or materials within the shipping compartment of a truck can ultimately lead to more severe injuries to the parties involved.
  • Insurance carriers – With so many potential parties involved in a truck accident there are in turn several competing insurance carriers. Each insurance carrier will attempt to deflect blame and responsibility onto one another to reduce their liability and coverage.

Acquire Necessary Evidence

The reality is that the opposing parties to a truck accident will not willingly provide an injured party with the evidence needed for their settlement with insurance or case. A lawyer knows the ins and outs of how to demand the information and evidence required by law to build your case.

In addition to the ability to gather evidence such as records with the truck company, a truck accident attorney can determine the need for specialized experts that can contribute their knowledge to build a stronger case on your behalf.

Determination of Damages

The injured party may not fully understand the scope of the damages they could recover. A truck accident lawyer has the experience to research the various damages available to you and maximize your potential compensation.

A truck accident is much more likely to result in serious and severe injuries than a car accident due to the size, weight, and speed that usually occur in these collisions. The severity of the injuries involved sometimes leads to a long and difficult recovery time for the injured parties. This can result in exorbitant medical expenses for treatment and rehabilitation as well as the loss of income and earning potential for individuals such as you.

An attorney can help ensure you will get the compensation you deserve for not only the current impacts on your life but also the future losses you may incur due to the injuries and level of damage to your body as a result of the truck accident.

Truck Accidents: A Rising Concern With Lifelong Impacts

The FMCSA recently reported that almost 8 percent of all car crashes involved a large truck or bus and over 117,000 of those truck and bus crashes resulted in an injury. As a party injured in a truck accident, the implications can be life-altering depending on the severity of your injuries. A truck accident lawyer can help build your case to fight for the compensation you need and deserve to get your life back in order and looking towards your recovery and future.

If you or a loved one are injured in a truck accident contact a truck accident attorney for a free consultation on your case.

What to Do After a Car Accident

The steps that you should take following a car accident depend on the severity of your injuries. If you are severely injured, you should not move, even if you think you can, as you could cause more injuries or exacerbate your current injuries.

However, if you feel comfortable moving, you should first check on others involved in the accident and call first responders if necessary, even if you believe the accident was the other driver’s fault. Just ask how the other individuals are doing; do not say anything that may lead others to believe you are admitting fault for the accident, even if you really think that you caused it. Let your attorney handle the issue of fault, which requires an analysis of the totality of the circumstances.

Photographs

Many states require individuals who have been involved in a car accident to move their vehicles to the side of the road if possible (assuming no one has any serious injuries). Before anyone moves anything, however, be sure to get photos of the accident from all angles. If there are skid marks on the road, be sure to take several pictures of the skid marks. Only after you take photos should you move your vehicle. As always, if it is too dangerous to take photos, and you can move your vehicle, then move the vehicle first. The last thing you need is to suffer more injuries while trying to photograph the accident scene.

Contact Information

You should get a name and phone number from anyone you think might be a witness to the accident.

You should get the following from all other involved drivers:

  • Full name
  • Insurance information
  • Registration information
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Driver’s license number

You should also any passengers that were riding in vehicles involved in the accident for their contact information.

Speaking to the Police

When the police ask you what happened, tell them exactly what you saw and remember. However, even if you believe the accident is your fault, never admit fault. If the police ask about fault, let them know that your attorney will determine that. Be sure to ask how and where you can get a copy of the police report.

Get Medical Attention

Even if you think you are not injured, always seek medical attention. Some injuries may not manifest until hours or even days later. It is a good idea to let emergency medical technicians check you at the scene of the accident, then head to your doctor or the emergency room. When you go to the doctor or emergency room, tell the nurses or doctors that you were in a car accident, and you need to be checked out thoroughly, especially if you hit your head.

Find out how to get copies of your medical records. Some hospitals have an online portal where you can access most of your records. You can start with that. If the facility does not post enough of your medical records via the portal, we’ll let you know what you need to get so that you can put in a request for medical records pertaining to the accident.

Working With Your Insurance Company

Call your insurance company to let it know that you were in an accident. However, you should only give them your name, policy number, and phone number, as well as the date, time, and location of the accident, and your attorney’s contact information. Do not answer any questions about the accident. Instead, tell the representative that your attorney will contact the insurance company shortly.

If the other driver’s insurance company contacts you, refer the insurance company to your attorney. Keep in mind that insurance companies are in business to make money. Even your own insurance company will twist your words in an attempt to deny your claim or to pay out an amount that might not cover all of your medical expenses.

Preparing for a Consultation

While you do not need to bring anything with you to a consultation, you will get more out of it if you come prepared. Write out a list of questions that you would like to ask the attorney. This way, you won’t forget to ask a pertinent question.

If possible, you should also bring copies—not originals—of the following documents, if you have them:

  • Your driver license
  • Your vehicle insurance card
  • Your vehicle registration
  • Any relevant medical records that you already have
  • The police report
  • Any photos that you have of the accident scene

Providing your attorney with this information will allow him or her to get started on your case right away if you decide to retain the firm.

Choosing Settlement or Litigation

Settling a claim is the easiest way to recover compensation if the insurance company will offer a reasonable amount. However, in some cases, you might have to litigate. If the insurance company refuses to pay a reasonable amount based on your past and future medical bills and lost wages, along with non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and emotional distress for injuries that caused long-term disabilities, you might choose to litigate your case to maximize your ultimate compensation.

Additionally, if the defendant’s actions or inactions were grossly negligent or intentional, the court might award punitive damages. However, as the accuser, you must prove that the defendant’s actions or inactions were intentional or grossly negligent before the court will agree to issue a punitive damages award.

Recovering Non-Economic Damages

In most cases, you can only recover non-economic damages if you suffer injuries that cause long-term disabilities. While your insurance company might have its own definition of long-term, the Social Security Administration defines a long-term disability as one that doctors expect to last longer than 12 months or a disability that will result in your death. You might also recover some non-economic damages if you lost a loved one in a car accident. In this case, non-economic damages may include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of use of a body part or function, loss of consortium and/or companionship, and inconvenience.

If you sustained injuries or lost a loved one in a car accident, contact an experienced car accident attorney for a free consultation.

Medical Errors and Medical Malpractice Litigation and Settlements

The National Institute of Health defines a medical error as a “preventable adverse effect of medical care, whether or not it is evident or harmful to the patient.” On average, medical errors account for up to 440,000 deaths every year. When you suffer from medical errors, or you lose a loved one because of a medical error, you have the right to sue for medical malpractice.

Despite their education and skill, doctors are still human, and they make mistakes. You can also sue for medical malpractice if a doctor or medical facility deliberately performs a procedure, including surgery, that you do not need. Both situations lead to additional pain and suffering on behalf of the patient.

Failure to Diagnose

If a doctor fails to provide you with a proper diagnosis, makes an incorrect diagnosis, or makes a delayed diagnosis, including failing to order the correct tests or tests at all, it could hurt you. At the very least, it could cause you additional pain and suffering, and at the worst, it could cause your death. Failure to diagnose is just one of the many medical errors that could lead to additional pain and suffering.

Wrong Site Surgery or Amputation

Before doctors started marking surgery sites, they would sometimes amputate the wrong limb or do surgery at the wrong site. In the case of surgery, the doctor may have misread the chart or mixed charts up. Even with protocols in place, accidents can still happen if the x-ray tech mislabels films or other pre-surgery errors occur. Before surgery, your doctor should discuss the surgery site with you or a loved one, especially for amputation. If you have no idea what the doctor is talking about or if the doctor is talking about the amputation of the wrong limb, you need to speak up, as the doctor might be relying on incorrect records.

Leaving Sponges and Other Medical Equipment in a Surgery Site

An Annals of Surgery study found that doctors left sponges and tools in 12.5 percent of surgeries. When a surgeon leaves a sponge or a tool inside your body, it will try to attack the foreign matter to “kill” it. This causes high fevers and other problems. In most cases, the doctors must operate a second time to correct the mistake. Depending on your condition before and after the first surgery, this could cause additional pain and suffering or even death.

While doctors and nurses have to perform an instrument and sponge count, they don’t always do it the same way, and in many cases, it may be performed differently even during the same surgery, which causes mistakes. Doctors should have a specific way to count sponges and instruments before closing the surgery site.

Fatal Allergies

Many people are surprised that fatal allergic reactions would ever occur in a hospital. After all, medical facilities ask patients if they have allergies when they first arrive. Unfortunately, fatalities still occur when a doctor or nurse gives a patient a medication listed on the allergy list on the patient’s chart.

In some cases, a patient may receive an allergen that wasn’t listed on his or her chart. If the patient does not know about the allergy, he or she cannot tell anyone. In these cases, the only way doctors and nurses find out is when the patient suffers an allergic reaction to the medication. To ensure safety, medical staff should monitor patients when giving a new medication via an IV and remain prepared to counteract the effects when a patient first shows signs of distress.

Lifting Accidents

Lifting accidents are common in hospitals and nursing homes. These accidents not only injure patients but hospital staff as well. Hospitals and nursing homes should provide training for their staff on proper lifting, and should provide equipment, such as stand-assist lifts, full-body slings, friction-reducing devices, and lateral transfer devices, to help lift and/or move patients that are too heavy for nurses. Even someone who is not overweight may be too heavy or awkward for a nurse who has a small frame, especially if the patient is much taller than the nurse.

Recoverable Damages

The type and amount of damages that a medical malpractice plaintiff may receive depend on the extent of the injuries and whether the doctor was negligent—that is, he or she made a mistake—or was grossly negligent. Gross negligence includes several factors, including, but not limited to, performing an unnecessary surgery or procedure.

Successful plaintiffs may recover:

  • Economic damages include those that have a direct cost, such as past and future medical expenses related to the error, past and future lost wages, ambulatory or other medical equipment, and funeral, burial, and/or cremation expenses.
  • Non-economic damages are those that you cannot put a price on and might include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium, loss of companionship, inconvenience, amputation, paralysis, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of a bodily function, and/or loss of use of a body part. Courts order economic damages and non-economic damages in an attempt to make victims whole again. While the money does not erase their injuries or pain and suffering, nor does it bring back a loved one, it does go a long way in ensuring that victims are less financially stressed.
  • Punitive damages are allowed but limited in Washington. State law doesn’t explicitly provide for punitive damages, though there are some exceptions. However, Washington updated its jury instructions regarding punitive damages, stating that while the statutes do not provide for punitive damages, the court can award punitive damages as a way to punish a defendant’s grossly negligent or intentional behavior.

If you suffered injuries or the loss of a loved one because of a medical error, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney today for a free consultation. Your attorney will listen to the details of your situation and help determine your eligibility to file a claim.