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Brain Injury

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With as many as 5.3 million people in America living with a permanent disability due to a traumatic brain injury and 56,000 people dying from brain injuries each year, there’s little wonder why brain injuries are referred to as a quiet crisis in the United States.

The number of people suffering brain injuries each year is reportedly enough to fill the city of Detroit. There are seven such “cities” in the nation already, and a third of the residents there are under the age of 14.

If you or your loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury in Seattle due to someone else’s negligence, there may be compensation available to you to help with medical and other expenses.

An experienced Seattle brain injury attorney can help you.

Contact us today – call (877) 999-9999 or email us. We’re available 24/7!

What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

As explained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, a traumatic brain injury happens when a bump, jolt, or other head injury causes damage to the brain. Half of all traumatic brain injuries are suffered in car accidents.

A concussion is the mildest form of a brain injury and occurs when your brain collides violently with your skull.

Those suffering from a concussion may not initially notice the symptoms of it, which may include:

  • A lingering and worsening headache
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Inability to awaken from sleep
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness or numbness in the arms or legs
  • Dilated pupils

In addition to concussions, there are other types of brain injuries, including:

  • Hematoma: This condition involves clotting of blood outside the blood vessels and can be very serious as it causes pressure to build within the skull.
  • Hemorrhage: Hemorrhages are uncontrolled bleeding, which when the hemorrhage occurs in the brain can result in blood collecting in the space around your brain or within the brain tissue itself.
  • Edema: Edema is swelling within the brain due to injury. This also causes pressure to build up within your brain and presses the brain against the skull.
  • Skull fracture: Unlike most of the bones in your body, your skull doesn’t contain marrow. While this makes for a strong bone, if the head is hit hard enough to break it, the inside is likely to suffer damage as well.
  • Diffuse axonal injury: Although not as visible as some types of brain injury, diffuse axonal injuries are among the deadliest. These injuries aren’t caused by bleeding in the brain, but damages brain cells and makes them unable to function.
  • Anoxic brain injury: An anoxic brain injury occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen and cells begin to die off rapidly. Brain damage can begin within 30 seconds of oxygen deprivation. If a person is deprived of oxygen for two minutes, brain damage almost always occurs. Though every brain is slightly different, on average, a brain can only survive up to about four minutes without oxygen. Anoxic brain injuries are often caused by near-drowning, stroke, oxygen deprivation in babies at birth, choking, anaphylactic shock due to allergies, drug overdose, or a sudden blow to the windpipe.

Treating a brain injury involves a complex regimen of medication and rehabilitation, and no two injuries are the same.

An injured victim may face hospitalization, spend time in the Intensive Care Unit, undergo acute rehabilitation to regain as many activities of daily living as possible, spend time at a residential rehabilitation facility, undergo outpatient therapy, and even have to stay at an assisted living facility that provides housing and care for people with brain injuries.

Any number of scenarios involving violent blows to the head can cause a traumatic brain injury. Some of the more common causes include:

  • Car accidents
  • Truck collisions
  • Motorcycle wrecks
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Sports injuries
  • Construction site accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Boating wrecks
  • Recreational vehicle accidents
  • Commercial vehicle accidents
  • Workplace accidents
  • 18-Wheeler accidents
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Physical violence
  • Near drowning or deprivation of oxygen

How Are Brain Injuries Diagnosed?

Brain Injury lawyer in Seattle WashingtonWhen someone seeks medical attention for a brain injury, they’re generally assessed on the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS). GCS is a common scoring system used to describe a person’s level of consciousness following traumatic brain injury.

This simple test helps doctors to determine the severity of the head injury.

The GCS measures the following functions:

  • Eye opening: The scale ranges from four, which is spontaneous eye opening, to one, in which the patient will not open their eyes.
  • Verbal response: A number five on the verbal response scale means that the patient’s responses are oriented. A number one means that the patient is not verbal.
  • Motor response: With six numbers on the motor response scale, the highest a six means that the patient obeys commands with the appropriate motor response. A number one means that there is no motor response.

As you can see, the higher the score on the GCS scale, the less severe the brain injury. A brain injury on an individual with a GCS score of 13-15 is considered mild. Those in the 9-12 point range are considered moderate. Scores of 8 or below are considered representative of a severe brain injury.

Mild brain injuries may result in temporary or permanent neurological damage that may not show up on CT or MRI tests. Moderate and severe brain injuries often result in long-term impairments in cognition, physical skills, and emotional or behavioral function.

While the GCS scale is typically a very accurate test, there are some factors such as drug or alcohol impairment, shock, or low blood oxygen that can alter the results.

Help for Those Living With a Brain Injury

Because brain injuries so often leave those that suffer with them with motor, sensory, cognitive, and behavioral deficits, the work done to help these individuals regain or relearn as much as possible often starts in the hospital. The initial focus is on helping the patient to regain simple physical, cognitive, and personal self-care skills.

However, many individuals require ongoing therapy and rehabilitation even after they’ve left the hospital. One component of brain injury healing is the provision of occupational therapy.

Occupational therapists work with the patient to improve skills needed in everyday life, including the following situations:

  • Self-care
  • Home management
  • Rest and sleep habits
  • Work demands
  • Leisure
  • Social participation

Occupational therapists provide guided activities to improve skills, which may include real-life activities such as going to the grocery store, to the bank, workplace, home, or obtaining transportation on a bus or a train. Occupational therapists are just one part of the team that treats a brain injury patient.

Other members of that team may include physical therapists, speech-language pathologist, neuropsychologist, social workers, and depending on the patient’s needs teachers or vocational rehabilitation specialists.

The Problems That Brain Injuries Cause

An injury to any part of the brain may result in damage to all of the brain.

However, there are specific issues that present themselves depending on the part of the brain that was injured, including:

  • Frontal lobes: These are the largest lobes in the brain. Injury to the frontal lobes may cause a person to have problems with emotions and impulses, language, memory, and social behavior
  • Parietal lobes: Damage to this part of the brain may cause a person to have difficulty recognizing and locating parts of the body.
  • Temporal lobes: Damage to the temporal lobes may result in a loss of hearing, language problems, and difficulty with sensory skills such as recognizing a known person’s face.
  • Occipital lobes: Damage to this area of the brain can lead to visual field defects as well as problems perceiving size, color, and shape.
  • Cerebellum: Damage to the cerebellum may lead to uncoordinated movement and loss of muscle tone.
  • Brainstem: Injuries to the brainstem may lead to the inability to control such functions as breathing, swallowing, and heart rate.

How Washington State Protects Those With Brain Injuries

If your brain injury occurred due to an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, Washington’s personal injury laws may protect your finances as healing takes place.

Many accident victims can seek compensation for medical and other expenses by filing a third-party claim with the at-fault party’s insurance. This is true in motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, and premises liability accidents.

However, those injured in Washington may also turn to the court for assistance by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party or his or her insurance.

Here are some of the highlights of Washington’s personal injury law that may impact you if that is the legal option you choose.

  • You must prove negligence: To have a successful outcome to your personal injury suit, you must be able to prove negligence on the part of the at-fault party. Negligence is established by showing: 1) The defendant (at-fault party) owed you a duty of care. In a car accident case, for example, the duty of care owed to other drivers and occupants would be to drive safely and obey traffic laws. 2) There was a breach in that duty of care. 3) This breach resulted in the accident that caused your injuries. The fourth step, once negligence has been established, is to prove the damages that you suffered in the accident.
  • The types of damages that can be recovered via a personal injury lawsuit include economic damages such as past, current, and future medical expenses, lost wages, loss of essential services, property damage, and out-of-pocket expenses relating to your injury (such as travel to and from your doctor’s office). You may also seek to recover non-economic damages such as pain and suffering or loss of consortium. There are no damage caps in Washington for personal injury cases.
  • Statute of limitations: The statute of limitations on a personal injury case is three years from the date of the injury. If that time passes before you file your lawsuit, you likely will be unable to obtain compensation for your injuries.
  • Comparative fault: Washington uses a “pure comparative negligence” rule for personal injury cases. What this means is that you may still seek compensation from an at-fault party even if you were partially to blame for the accident that caused your injuries. However, any award you obtain through your lawsuit will be reduced by the percentage of responsibility you bear. For example, if you were 10 percent responsible for the accident that caused your injuries, the court is required to reduce your damage award by 10 percent.

More Brain Injury Statistics

What is the leading cause of brain injuries? Who is most likely to suffer from one?

Read on to find the answers to these questions and more, according to statistics from Brainline.

  • Every day, 153 people in the United States die from injuries that include a traumatic brain injury.
  • Nearly 90 percent of all people suffering from a traumatic brain injury are treated and released from the emergency department.
  • Brain injuries come with a cost to society of about $60 billion per year.
  • Children aged 0 to 4 years, older adolescents aged 15 to 19 years, and adults aged 65 years and older are most likely to sustain a traumatic brain injury.
  • The leading cause of brain injuries varies depending on the age of the person involved. Falls are the leading cause of brain injuries in individuals aged 45 and older as well as children 0-14 years old. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of brain injuries in adolescents ages 15-19 and adults under 45.
  • For six years (2007–2013), while the rates of brain injury-related emergency department visits increased by 47 percent, hospitalization rates decreased by 2.5 percent and death rates decreased by 5 percent.
  • Brain injuries are a contributing factor of about 30 percent of all injury-related deaths in the U.S.
  • By the numbers, every American has more than a 1:160 chance of sustaining a traumatic brain injury each year.
  • Males are almost twice as likely as females to suffer a traumatic brain injury.
  • The area most often injured is the frontal lobes, which control thinking and emotional regulation.
  • 47 percent of traumatic brain injuries are caused by falls. Being struck by or against an object results in about 15 percent of the brain injuries suffered each year, while 14 percent are caused by motor vehicle crashes.

Seattle Brain Injury FAQ

Do you have questions after you or a loved one suffered a traumatic brain injury due to another party’s negligence? Do you need help navigating the complexities of your brain injury claim?

Many victims who sustain a traumatic brain injury in an accident are uncertain of what to do next.

Question #1: How much compensation should I expect following a traumatic brain injury?

Depending on the severity, recovery from a traumatic brain injury could cost between $85,000 and $3 million throughout your lifetime. Those figures account for the medical costs alone. Injured victims may also be entitled to recover other losses incurred as a result of their injuries.

Compensation may also include lost wages and pain and suffering. As medical costs increase and other expenses begin to pile up, you may consider filing a brain injury claim. A brain injury claim allows injured victims to seek compensation from those who are legally liable for their injuries.

How much compensation should an injured victim expect to receive?

Add up your expenses.

A brain injury claimant’s demand package will outline and document the expenses they incurred as a result of an accident. If you have suffered a traumatic brain injury, your demand package may include: Medical expenses. Your medical expenses include the initial hospital visit, diagnostic testing, and any subsequent hospitalizations or follow-up care.

If victims’ injuries require long-term care in an assisted living facility, those costs may be included. In addition, you can include the costs of physical and occupational therapy. Many traumatic brain injuries require victims to learn to cope with temporary or permanent limitations.

The costs of psychological therapy to address emotional distress following a traumatic brain injury also qualify as medical expenses. Experienced brain injury attorneys may help clients establish and justify all medical expenses associated with their traumatic brain injury.

Medical expenses may also include an estimate of future medical costs, if necessary. Lost wages. When you have a severe traumatic brain injury, it may prevent you from returning to work.

Traumatic brain injuries can present a wide range of symptoms, including difficulty focusing or trouble completing cognitive processes. If your job duties rely heavily on memory or focus, it may be quite some time before you can return to work. While some employers may work with employees to accommodate their limitations, others may require you to take time off. V

ictims whose injuries render them unable to return to work will suffer a substantial loss of income as they recover. Lack of emotional regulation due to your injury can also make it difficult to function in many work environments. Traumatic brain injuries may make it impossible for victims to perform job functions requiring regular contact with customers.

If your injuries prevent you from returning to work permanently, you can also include lost earning potential as part of your brain injury claim. Including lost earning potential as part of your demand package can make it easier for you to return to school or gain other certifications, if needed, so you can maintain as much independence as possible following your accident.

Pain and suffering. While traumatic brain injury may not result in substantial physical pain and suffering, it often causes significant emotional anguish. Individuals may become frustrated as they struggle to handle tasks simple tasks they once performed with ease.

Speaking with an attorney can help you understand how pain and suffering costs may be included in your demand package.

Consider the extent of coverage for the responsible party.

If you suffer a traumatic brain injury in an auto accident in Washington, the other driver may only carry minimum liability insurance.

Minimum liability insurance provides injured victims with a maximum of $25,000 for their medical expenses. As mentioned, recovery costs for traumatic brain injuries typically far exceed that amount. Other entities may carry much higher coverage or face higher financial liability in the event of an accident.

For example, premises liability accidents, accidents involving commercial vehicles, and accidents on construction sites may expose responsible parties to greater financial liability.

Contact an attorney to discuss how an insurance policy may affect your brain injury claim. An attorney can inform clients of any potential limitations that may apply to their ability to recover compensation.

Question #2: How long does it take to get compensation for a traumatic brain injury?

The time it takes for injured victims to receive compensation for their traumatic brain injury will depend on a variety of factors. Below, we discuss some of those factors.

Have you made the maximum medical improvement possible?

If you have already reached the maximum possible medical improvement, you can better estimate the full medical costs of your recovery. In addition, you can more easily quantify any anticipated future medical costs.

Future medical expenses may include the cost of a caretaker, if you cannot take care of yourself. However, even the best doctors cannot precisely predict the recovery process from any individual’s specific injuries. This is especially true for victims suffering from traumatic brain injury. Injured victims are entitled to file a brain injury claim long before they reach a full recovery.

You should contact an attorney as soon after your accident as possible. While you may need to wait until your recovery progresses to finalize your claim, the sooner you begin the process, the sooner you may expect to be compensated.

Is it clear who caused the accident?

If multiple parties share legal liability for your accident, it may take longer to reach a settlement that all parties agree to. In addition, if you cannot clearly demonstrate who caused the accident, settlement negotiations may be prolonged.

In some cases, the responsible entity or that entity’s insurance company may attempt to shift legal liability. When responsible parties attempt to implicate other liable parties, the discovery phase may last much longer than usual.

Any delays in the process will only cause a delay in receiving the compensation you deserve.

How high are your medical expenses and, therefore, the amount you demand in compensation?

When you deal in higher-dollar medical expenses, you may find that it takes longer to receive compensation for your injuries. If your costs clearly exceed the maximum limits of the insurance policy, you may be promptly presented with a settlement offer.

On the other hand, if your costs are not clearly more than the coverage limits, a liable entity may feel they have room to negotiate. The brain injury claims process may involve several phases of negotiation.

How much are you willing to negotiate?

Some traumatic brain injury victims wish to maximize their compensation as much as possible. To obtain maximum compensation, victims may have to look to an entity’s insurance company or parent corporation.

Others find themselves more willing to accept a settlement offer because they would prefer to be compensated as soon as possible. Fast cash may be worth the reduction in total compensation. The more you want to negotiate or the harder you want to fight, the longer it can take to get the funds you need. If necessary, you claim may be required to attend mediation or proceed to trial.

In either case, you can expect the resolution of your case to be delayed. An experienced attorney may help injured victims understand when it is in their best interest to continue the fight or accept the settlement offer.

Question #3: Who bears legal liability for my traumatic brain injury?

The identification of the parties who are legally liable for your traumatic brain injury will depend on the circumstances surrounding your accident.

In determining legal liability, an attorney may consider:

  • Who owed you a duty of care at the time of the accident?
  • How was that duty of care violated?
  • How did that violation of the duty of care lead to your injuries?

In many cases, multiple parties may share liability for your accident and, therefore, for your medical expenses. Consulting an attorney can help you identify all liable parties.

Identifying all liable parties will increase the chances of maximizing a victim’s recovery. Consider the following scenarios:

Traumatic Brain Injury from an Auto Accident

Auto accidents often cause your head to strike objects in the vehicle or the vehicle itself. That extensive force can cause traumatic brain injury. In some auto accidents, the other driver clearly bears liability for the accident.

Other factors, however, may also contribute to an auto accident, including:

  • Improper vehicle maintenance
  • Commercial companies violation of driver safety regulations and requirements
  • Mechanical failures due to defective parts

In some cases, other entities may share the blame for the accident. If a mechanical failure caused the accident, the vehicle or parts manufacturers or the mechanic responsible for the vehicle’s maintenance may be liable for damages.

If a driver falls asleep at the wheel, an employer requiring work hours above the permitted maximum may share liability. Consulting with an attorney can help you determine if any of these factors may influence your claim.

Traumatic Brain Injury in a Nursing Home or Hospital

In a nursing home or hospital, patients expect doctors, nurses, and other employees to take the necessary precautions to ensure your safety.

Unfortunately, sometimes, facilities fail to take proper care of their patients. If you sustain further injuries due to inadequate medical care or supervision, the facility may be responsible for any resulting damages.

Traumatic Brain Injury After a Slip and Fall

When you slip and fall, whether on level flooring or down a flight of stairs, you may suffer a forceful impact to your head. As a result, you may suffer a traumatic brain injury.

If the premises owner or manager failed to take proper precautions to prevent falls, they may be liable for your injuries.

To reduce the risks of injury, public buildings should ensure they provide:

  • Appropriate lighting in stairways and walkways
  • Handrails, when needed
  • Outdoor walkways free of ice during the winter months
  • Clearly labeled spills, wet floors, or other hazards
  • Quick removal of any hazards that may cause visitors to injure themselves

Traumatic Brain Injury From a Construction Accident

On a construction site, the construction company bears primary responsibility for keeping the site as safe as possible. Many construction sites, however, include multiple contractors and subcontractors.

All construction supervisors must maintain safety standards to maintain to ensure the safest possible environment for both workers and visitors. When a construction company’s employees do not take proper precautions to ensure safety, the company may be liable for any resulting injuries.

If an employee’s negligence causes a traumatic brain injury, the employer may be responsible for damages. A construction site owner may fail to fully disclose a hazard on site. If that hazard causes a traumatic brain injury, liability may rest with the site owner.

Question #4: How long do I have to file a brain injury claim following a traumatic brain injury?

In Washington, the statute of limitations sets the time period within which an injured victim may file a brain injury claim. Typically, a claim must be filed within three years of the date of the accident.

However, several factors can extend the statute of limitations. Consult with an attorney as soon as possible to determine whether you are eligible to file your claim. Keep in mind that the sooner you contact an attorney, the sooner the attorney may begin putting together your demand package. In turn, the sooner you may seek the compensation you deserve.

Contacting an attorney soon after your accident can also make it easier to collect critical evidence. With time, it may become increasingly difficult to obtain witness statements or gather video footage of your accident, if any exists.

Question #5: Do I need an attorney to file a claim for my traumatic brain injury?

Boohoff Law P.A.
Tatiana Boohoff, Seattle, WA Brain Injury Lawyer

You have the right to work directly with the responsible entity or that entity’s insurance company to file your brain injury claim. Hiring an attorney, however, may offer injured victims several advantages.

A brain injury lawyer becomes an injured victim’s legal advocate.

An attorney may handle the legal complexities of your case while keeping your best interests in mind. Many accident victims find that having a brain injury attorney helps alleviate stress as they navigate the claims process.

An experienced brain injury lawyer may provide advice at every step of the claims process. When appropriate, an attorney will compile your demand package and may take your case to court, if necessary.

Experience helps attorneys to estimate the amount of compensation an injured victim may expect to receive. An attorney may advise you regarding the fairness of an insurance company’s settlement offer.

Get Help Now – Call Our Seattle Brain Injury Attorneys Now

If you or a loved one suffered a brain injury due to someone else’s negligence, we’d like to help you understand your legal options.

For a free consultation, call us at (877) 999-9999 or contact us at Boohoff Law online.

Client Testimonial

“I would like to thank Lindsey and her team for the great work and the professional job they did in handling my case. Boohoff law always kept me in the loop and let me know what the next step was going to be. I would highly recommend this firm to Everyone.” – Carl C.

Review: 5/5 ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

For most of us here in Seattle, one of the only times we ever truly place our lives in the hands of another person is when we seek medical care.

It’s difficult to overstate how deeply we trust in doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals…and how devastating it can be when that trust is broken. Healthcare providers make mistakes. They’re only human. If we’re lucky, a doctor’s mistake won’t do us harm.

But, unfortunately, sometimes the treatment we receive in a healthcare setting hurts us more than it helps. When Washington medical professionals fail to deliver the standard of care they owe to each and every one of their patients and a patient ends up injured, the law gives the patient the legal right to pursue a civil action for medical malpractice.

The skilled Seattle medical malpractice attorneys at Boohoff Law have the resources and experience to investigate and litigate even the most complex Seattle medical malpractice claims.

If you or a loved one suffered an injury because of a medical professional’s mistake, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. Contact us today to learn more.

Contact us today – call (877) 999-9999 or email us. We’re available 24/7!

About Boohoff Law

Attorney Tatiana Boohoff and her team of accomplished attorneys have years of combined experience representing victims of all manner of personal injuries, including medical malpractice.

She gained a sterling reputation among her colleagues and clients alike as a lawyer committed to serving the needs of her clients with a personal touch. She prides herself and her team on being accessible, compassionate, and willing to go the extra mile to ensure every client stays updated and in touch with the lawyer in charge of their case.

Tatiana earned her law degree from Boston University School of Law, which is consistently ranked among the top-25 law schools in the United States by U.S. News and World Report. In her 12-plus years of legal practice since graduating, she and her team have distinguished themselves as skilled, aggressive trial lawyers and passionate advocates for the rights clients struggling to recover from injuries that happened through no fault of their own.

About Medical Malpractice Generally

Typically, when we talk about medical malpractice under Washington law, we mean any circumstance in which a medical services provider which could be a doctor, a nurse practitioner, a surgical tech, a pharmacist, a physical therapist, or any other person or entity providing services in a medical or para-medical setting– fails to deliver the accepted standard of care to a patient, and the patient suffers harm as a result.

Less frequently, medical malpractice takes the form of a medical provider causing an injury that the provider had promised the patient would not occur, or in a medical provider delivering health care to which the patient and/or patient’s representative didn’t consent.

The Standard of Care Explained

What is the standard of care?

Washington statutes explain it as: “[T]hat degree of care, skill, and learning expected of a reasonably prudent health care provider at that time in the profession or class to which he or she belongs, in the state of Washington, acting in the same or similar circumstances.”

In a medical malpractice lawsuit, the patient who suffered an injury caused by a provider’s failure to provide the standard of care must present evidence to establish what the standard of care was in the patient’s case, the ways in which the provider didn’t meet it, and how the patient’s injury was the result.

Types of Medical Malpractice

As the laws linked above suggest, medical malpractice can happen in a variety of settings and situations. It would be impossible to list all of those here.

But, it is possible to group some of the most common medical malpractice types into two broad categories to help show how they can occur.

Mistakes in Collecting or Communicating Medical Information

Tatiana-Boohoff One way in which medical providers regularly fail to provide a standard of care is by making mistakes in obtaining and transmitting information that is critical to the patient’s care.

This can happen, for example, when providers:

  • Fail to obtain a health history from a patient;
  • Make mistakes entering health information into computer systems; or
  • Forget to tell another provider about health information that the other provider needs.

It’s not hard to imagine how these mistakes can result in a patient getting hurt. When providers make mistakes getting and passing along information, they put patients at risk of not getting the care they need.

Health care providers who lack the necessary information to provide the standard of care can give incorrect medical diagnoses, prescribe the wrong medication, and even perform the wrong type of surgery on a patient.

Mistakes in Deciding On or Giving Health Care

Even when medical service providers have the information they need to provide the standard of care, sometimes they still fail to do so. There are many reasons this can happen.

Sometimes, doctors and other health care professionals have poor judgment. Sometimes they’re tired or overworked or feel rushed. Sometimes they’re just having a bad day.

Whatever the reasons, lapses in judgment, concentration, or skill can lead to devastating results for the patients on the receiving end of this sort of inadequate care.

For example, mistakes like these can cause a provider to:

  • Forget or decide against a critical step in a surgery;
  • Fail to order tests necessary for proper diagnosis;
  • Decide not to follow-up with a patient; or
  • Misread a test result.

These are just a few examples. As we said above, medical providers are human. They make mistakes. The vast majority of the time, they don’t intend to hurt anyone.

But, just because they are good people who provide an important service doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be held to account when they make mistakes that result in life-altering injury and illness to their patient.

Pursuing a Medical Malpractice Claim in Washington

Like many other states, in recent years Washington has implemented laws and rules that add complication to pursuing a medical malpractice claim. The supposed goal of these measures was to reduce the cost of medical malpractice insurance and to shield medical providers from baseless claims.

In practice, they can make it harder to recover damages from a medical provider if you don’t have a lawyer who understands how to investigate and litigate your claim.

Certificate of Merit Required in Standard of Care Action

One such provision of Washington law is the requirement that a plaintiff includes a certificate of merit with any claim alleging medical providers failed to provide the standard of care. A qualified expert must sign the certificate of merit. It must also state that, based on available information, the defendant probably didn’t provide the patient with the standard of care.

Boohoff Law regularly works with experts in the medical field who have the credentials and experience to issue a certificate of merit that will stand up to scrutiny by Washington courts and defense attorneys.

Mandatory Mediation

Medical malpractice claims in Washington are also subject to mandatory mediation, which is a form of non-binding alternative dispute resolution. In mediation, a mediator attempts to resolve a matter through agreement, rather than a trial.

The mediator does not have the power to force either party to settle, or to issue an award the way a judge can. But, mediation can frequently result in a favorable settlement of a personal injury matter when handled properly by an experienced lawyer.

Boohoff Law attorneys have participated in hundreds of mediations. They understand the dynamics of the mediation process, and how to approach a mediation so as to give a client the best chance of achieving a favorable outcome of a medical malpractice matter through a mediated settlement.

Attorney Certification of Reasonable Inquiry

Washington law also imposes an obligation on attorneys who file medical malpractice claims on behalf of their clients to conduct a reasonable inquiry into the matter before filing suit.

The attorney’s signature on any filing acts as a certification that the inquiry has been done and that the attorney believes the suit is not frivolous. Conducting a reasonable inquiry into a client’s cases is something an attorney should always do. The law in Washington, however, makes it especially important for the attorney to have the knowledge and skill to conduct a medical malpractice inquiry.

Without experience investigating and litigating medical malpractice matters, an attorney could put a client’s case at risk.

At Boohoff Law, we have in-depth knowledge of medical malpractice issues. When our attorneys sign their names to legal filings, they do so with the confidence that comes from years of experience fighting on behalf of injured clients and achieving results.

Potential Damages for Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice can cause terrible harm. Some patients die as a result of medical malpractice.

Even when they live, patients who receive sub-standard care from a medical service provider can end up:

  • Suffering from the debilitating side effects of improper medication
  • Battling an illness that, because it went undiagnosed, has progressed to the point that it cannot be fully treated
  • Contending with long-term physical disabilities caused by inadequate care
  • Facing a lifetime with a disfigurement or chronic illness

Categories of Damages

Washington law permits injured patients to recover compensatory damages in such cases. Damages generally fall into two categories: economic (or special) damages, and non-economic (or general) damages.

Economic damages generally compensate an injured patient for out-of-pocket costs associated with an act of malpractice, such as for:

  • Un-reimbursed medical bills
  • Chronic or long-term care
  • Physical therapy
  • Assistive equipment and home modifications
  • Lost wages from time-off from work recovering
  • Lost earning capacity because of an injury that limits the patient’s ability to work

In some cases, a Washington court may allow a party to make periodic payments of economic damages, rather than a lump sum payment.

Non-economic damages seek to compensate subjective harm that is more difficult to calculate. The types of non-economic damages an injured patient can pursue include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Damage to personal relationships
  • Negative impacts on quality of life
  • The difficulty of contending with disabilities and impairments

Under Washington law, non-economic damages are subject to a limitation, however. They cannot exceed 43 percent of the average annual wage in Washington multiplied by the plaintiff’s life expectancy (which can be no less than 15 years). Unlike most states, Washington does not allow for punitive damages in most cases.

Medical Malpractice FAQ

How does our state define medical malpractice?

Washington State recognizes medical malpractice and healthcare-related torts. Torts refer to civil wrongs committed by one party that entitle another party to money damages.

Medical malpractice, also referred to as medical negligence, generally occurs when a health care provider carelessly causes personal injuries to or kills a patient. Unlike ordinarily negligence claims, plaintiffs must prove that the liable health care provider deviated from the accepted medical standard of care. These care-based norms change with current medical trends, and similar doctors must typically testify about proper treatment.

If a health care provider treated a patient with less skill or care than her colleagues, and this carelessness caused an injury or illness, you may have a medical negligence claim.

What are the elements of medical malpractice in Seattle?

Because medical providers often treat claimants already suffering from an injury or illness, the law requires plaintiffs to prove all of the following to recover damages for medical negligence:

  • Legally recognized and licensed health care providers, including certain medical facilities, treated the patient
  • The healthcare provider breached the prevailing standards of care in his/her specific field
  • The breach proximately caused the claimant’s death, injury, or illness
  • The injuries did not result from the condition for which the plaintiff sought treatment or from reasonably foreseeable risks of treatment if the patient had received care for another provider

RCW 7.70.030 states that claimants have the burden of proving the treating healthcare provider acted negligently this means with less skill and care than generally required by similarly situated medical professionals.

Proving medical malpractice claims in Seattle almost always requires expert witnesses to testify about the skill, care, and treatment a doctor should have provided considering all the circumstances. Experts must generally be other local medical professionals of similar experience in the same field of care.

Retaining the right experts with the help of Boohoff Law is critical to proving medical negligence claims as specific qualifications apply to medical witnesses in Seattle.

What is the prevailing standard of medical care in Seattle?

Medical malpractice cases often revolve around determining whether a health care provider delivered subpar care. No single standard of care exists for every medical negligence case.

Instead, courts look to all the surrounding circumstances, including the provider’s medical specialty, when determining the applicable standard. These standards may differ in every medical malpractice case but typically require expert statements.

Dueling experts often dictate the evidence needed in medical negligence cases, but Washington courts generally consider the following factors in adopting a standard of care:

  • How most similarly situated professionals would have administered care under the circumstances
  • Whether the treatment was ordinary or emergency-based
  • Specific care guidelines outlined by medical textbooks, treatises, and facility policies
  • The treating location, i.e., rural field hospital or advanced university facility
  • The availability and acceptability of alternative forms of treatment
  • Any exigent circumstances, such as COVID-19, or a patient’s religious or personal treatment requests

Emergency providers, including E.R. doctors, nurses, and paramedics, often make split-second decisions. In emergency response cases, the central question usually involves whether medical professionals prevented more significant harm.

Failing to sanitize a scalpel during an emergency amputation might not give rise to a subsequent medical negligence claim for an infection. However, inflections may qualify as medical negligence if developed during routine surgery.

How do Seattle courts decide whether an injury was reasonably foreseeable or resulted from medical malpractice?

Even negligent healthcare providers defend against medical malpractice lawsuits by arguing the damages resulted from the plaintiff’s initial condition or treatment protocol.

Doctors often warn patients of certain surgical or prescription drug risks before administering treatment. Even if a rare side effect occurred, this isn’t generally medical malpractice. When medical providers raise this defense, other health care workers should testify about how they would have treated your condition.

If four out of five doctors agree they would not have prescribed a risky medication, this may support a medical malpractice claim. The reverse might also hold. If four out of five doctors would have prescribed the same drug, you may not have a claim for medical negligence from foreseeable side effects.

Are only doctors liable for medical malpractice in Seattle?

No. Claimants may bring viable medical negligence claims against any licensed person or entity defined as a health care provider under RCW 4.16.350.

Health care providers include any or all of the following:

  • Physicians
  • Osteopathic physicians
  • Dentists
  • Nurses
  • Optometrists
  • Podiatric physician and surgeons
  • Chiropractors
  • Physical therapists
  • Psychologists
  • Pharmacists
  • Opticians
  • Physician’s assistants
  • Osteopathic physician’s assistants
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Physician’s trained mobile intensive care paramedic

Nursing homes and facilities employing covered health care providers may be vicariously (automatically) liable for an employee’s medical malpractice. Even if a person or entity does not qualify as a health care provider, you could demand damages for personal injuries by making a general negligence claim.

What are the most common Seattle medical malpractice claims?

Most medical malpractice cases arise when doctors fail to thoroughly evaluate your condition or make preventable administrative errors. Some of the most frequent types of medical negligence in Seattle include:

  • Anesthesia errors – Administering anesthesia and powerful pain medication requires precise mathematical calculations and diligent patient monitoring. Anesthesiologists need substantial training, but overworked doctors may make fatal errors while administering anesthesia and intubating patients
  • Misdiagnoses – Negligent diagnostics account for the highest percentage of medical malpractice lawsuits in most states. Missing signs of breast cancer during annual screenings or attributing COVID-19 to seasonal allergies might result in preventable injuries or fatalities. Patients may generally rely on doctors to accurately diagnose common conditions without having to seek a second opinion
  • OBGYN and childbirth claims – Birth may result in hemorrhaging, an unanticipated hysterectomy, or infant injuries. Even a few minutes of lost oxygen could cause brain damage to a child. Improperly reading ultrasounds or failing to recognize signs of dangerous prenatal conditions, such as diabetes and preeclampsia, might also give rise to medical negligence claims in Seattle
  • Prescription drug errors – Medical professionals may prescribe patients the wrong dosage or class of drugs. These errors may cause brain damage, liver failure, or even death. Missing a single decimal point or allergy when prescribing medication might result in death
  • Surgical mistakes – Doctors have operated on the wrong patient, amputated the incorrect body part, and left surgical tools inside patients during surgery. Infections and other surgical errors may also give rise to malpractice claims
  • Nursing home neglect – Bedsores, broken hips, malnourishment, and even sexual abuse habitually occur in eldercare facilities. Overworked nurses, underpaid medical aids, and apathetic geriatric physicians might engage in medical negligence. Many nursing home cases often involve additional claims such as general negligence, premises liability, battery, and negligent supervision

Can I sue a hospital or healthcare facility for medical malpractice in Seattle?

Yes. RCW 4.16.350(3) specifically authorizes malpractice lawsuits action against “a hospital, clinic, health maintenance organization, or nursing home; or an officer, director, employee, or agent thereof.”

Hospitals and most licensed medical facilities may be directly liable for medical malpractice. They may also be vicariously liable for the medical negligence of an employee, including a nurse. However, hospitals do not employ most doctors with admitting privileges. These legal distinctions seem minor, but failing to sue the right defendant under the correct legal theory may terminate your claims.

The experienced Seattle medical negligence lawyers at Boohoff Law carefully analyze each case before filing a lawsuit or demanding settlement to maximize the availability of compensation for viable malpractice claims.

Can wrongful death claims arise from medical malpractice in Seattle?

Wrongful deaths resulting from medical malpractice still generally require proof of medical negligence. If the deceased person could have brought a medical malpractice claim, his or her legal representative may recover damages payable to the estate or loved ones.

Cases for medical negligence include claims that such negligence resulted in a death; thus, the general two-year statute of limitations applicable to medical malpractice claims applies to wrongful deaths.

How long do I have to bring a Seattle lawsuit for medical malpractice?

Complicated time limits apply to medical malpractice claims in Seattle. Parties should generally bring a lawsuit for medical negligence within three years of the injuring event or one year after they reasonably should have discovered the malpractice.

However, calculating when the malpractice occurred, especially if patients were continuously under the negligent doctor’s care, often presents difficulties. Furthermore, exceptions exist for example, if the doctor or healthcare provider committed fraud or intentionally concealed the malpractice from the patient.

Contact an experienced Seattle med mal lawyer at Boohoff Law immediately if you suspect medical negligence. Filling litigation now might preserve your claims while you investigate the negligent cause of your injuries.

What damages may I recover for medical malpractice?

Patients injured by a treating health care provider may recover both economic and non-economic damage for medical negligence. These damages include compensation for the following direct and indirect losses:

  • Additional medical bills
  • Reimbursement for negligent treatment
  • Corrective surgeries
  • Lost income, including salaries, commissions, and bonuses
  • Lost career opportunities
  • Medical equipment and transportation costs
  • Prescription drug costs
  • Pain, suffering, and mental anguish
  • Loss of spousal companionship and comfort
  • Inability to perform daily activities such as driving, cooking, or cleaning
  • Frustration, such as difficulties sleeping and emotional changes
  • Home nursing and companionship care

Serious injuries caused by medical negligence often result in years of pain and continuous treatment. Claimants may recover damages for past and anticipated future losses in successful medical malpractice actions.

Expert economics may work with your doctors to determine the overall financial impact of injuries and illnesses caused by negligent healthcare providers.

How much is my medical malpractice case worth in Seattle?

Scheduling a free case review with an experienced medical malpractice litigator at Boohoff Law is the best way to determine the potential value of your claims.

Every case differs, and no average verdict or settlement exists for med mal claims. Successful claimants may recover the past and anticipated future losses, including lost enjoyment of life and pain.

Factors that might affect your overall financial recovery include:

  • Your age and overall health
  • Your degree, salary, and work history
  • The severity of the injuries
  • Head of household status
  • Any fraud or unlawful medical conduct

Doctors and health care facilities often carry substantial liability insurance policies. Realistically, most insurers settle medical negligence cases with the applicable policy limits. Working with attorneys who build respectful relationships with insurance adjusters often results in an agreeable settlement for viable medical malpractice claims.

Do not accept a settlement, even one disguised as medical compensation, without running it by one of our lawyers. You may inadvertently and permanently be signing away your rights to needed future benefits.

Are prescription-drug based claims also medical malpractice claims?

Prescription errors, such as prescribing the wrong medication or dosage, often qualify as medical negligence. Actual injuries or illnesses caused by prescription drugs, including addiction to pain medication, are product liability actions.

You may bring both medical malpractice and product liability claims together if health care providers and pharmaceutical companies negligently contributed to your injuries.

Is nursing home negligence a medical malpractice claim?

Possibly. Elder abuse and medical negligence claims against nursing homes and assisted living facilities commonly arise in Seattle. Some nursing homes might provide services rendering them directly liable for medical malpractice under Washington law.

Other facilities might not qualify as healthcare providers. In such cases, an experienced personal injury lawyer may still bring a negligence, premise liability, or wrongful death claim against the entity if their negligence resulted in harm to a resident.

Choosing a Seattle Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you or a loved one suffered injuries or losses as a result of a Seattle medical provider’s mistake, broken promise, or provision of care to which consent was never given, you may have a claim for medical malpractice damages.

As the discussion above shows, however, you cannot just pick any old attorney for the job if you want to give yourself the best chance of recovering the compensation you deserve.

To pursue a medical malpractice claim with skill, a lawyer needs to possess a large body of legal and subject-matter knowledge. The lawyer should be familiar in medical terminology, record-keeping practices, and delivery-of-care protocols, but that’s not all. The lawyer should also have a strong commitment to listening to and serving clients’ needs, and to communicating with clients in a way that makes the complicated process of pursuing a medical malpractice claim understandable and unintimidating.

How do you find this attorney? At Boohoff Law we encourage our potential clients to meet with us one-on-one. We offer a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation with a member of our team at which we welcome questions about how we can help.

If you decide we aren’t the right fit for you, we will happily try to point you in the direction of someone who would be.

If a Doctor Injured You, Get in Touch With Boohoff Law Seattle Medical Malpractice Lawyers Now

Do not wait to seek legal help if you or a loved one have sustained an injury or loss because of a medical provider’s mistake.

In Washington, the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice claim is three years in most cases.

The sooner you consult with an experienced, skilled medical malpractice attorney, the better your chances of obtaining the compensation you need.

To schedule a free consultation with Boohoff Law, call (877) 999-9999 or contact us today.

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Boohoff Law P.A.
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2200 6th Avenue,
Suite 768 Seattle,
WA 98121
(877) 999-9999

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