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 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
“Everyone here is so helpful. They jumped through every hoop necessary to get me the settlement I rightfully deserved. Tracey and Maria are super sweet. They made me feel right at home. I absolutely recommend Boohooff Law and will use them again in the future if I am ever in a similar situation. Thank you all at Boohooff who helped me with my case. 10/10 stars hands down!”
– Brandy K.