Most of us hold medical professionals to a higher level of respect and admiration due to the nature of their jobs. However, medical professionals are still human and, like the rest of us, they make mistakes. When these mistakes happen while providing medical treatment it is called medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice is negligence committed by a provider of health care while providing medical treatment. In Nevada, claims for medical malpractice are governed by a variety of rules. First and foremost, a claim for medical malpractice must be supported by an affidavit from a medical practitioner who practices or has practiced in an area of medicine substantially similar to the medical professional being sued. See NRS 41A.071. This means that in order to file a medical malpractice lawsuit you need an affidavit from a doctor or other medical professional who has reviewed the records and believes the treatment rendered by the medical provider was negligent. If a complaint is filed without a supporting affidavit, it ill almost certainly be dismissed by the court.
Second, a claim for medical malpractice must be filed with the court within 3 years from the date of the alleged injury or 1 year after the injured person “discovers or through the use of reasonable diligence should have discovered the injury, whichever occurs first.” See NRS 41A.097(2). This time limitation is extremely short when considering that the medical records need to be obtained and reviewed by a medical expert before a complaint can be filed with the court. Thus, if you or a loved one believe you need to schedule a free consultation with 9th Island Injury Lawyers immediately!
Assuming the statute of limitations has not expired and an affidavit from a medical practitioner has been obtained, a lawsuit can be filed with the court.
To prevail in a medical malpractice action at trial, the plaintiff must establish: (11) the accepted standard of medical care or practice, (2) that the health care provider’s conduct departed from the standard of care, (3) that the health care provider’s conduct was both the actual and proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury, and (4) that the plaintiff suffered damage. See Prabhu v. Levine, 109 Nev. 607, 855 P.2d 543 (1993) (citing Perez v. Las Vegas Medical Center, 107 Nev. 1, 4, 805 P.2d 589, 590-01 (1991); Orcutt v. Miller, 95 Nev. 408, 411-12, 595 P.2d 1191, 1193 (1979)). Each of the above elements must be established before a defendant will be found liable for medical malpractice.
If an inured plaintiff prevails in an action for medical malpractice, the maximum amount that may be awarded for non-economic damages (i.e. pain and suffering) is $350,000. See NRS 41A.035. There is no limit on the amount of damages an inured plaintiff may receive for economic damages, such as past and future medical expenses and lost wages or loss of earning capacity. However, a defendant may introduce evidence of any amount payable as a benefit to the plaintiff as a result of the alleged malpractice pursuant to the United State Social Security Act, any state or federal income disability or worker’s compensation act, any health, sickness or income-disability insurance, accident insurance that provides health benefits or income-disability coverage, and any contract or agreement of any group, organization, partnership or corporation to provide, pay for or reimburse the cost of medical, hospital, dental or other health care services. See NRS 42.021. A practical example of this is where past medical expenses incurred because of an injury caused by medical malpractice were paid for by health insurance. In such instances, a defendant may introduce the amount actually paid by health insurance versus the amount of the medical expenses billed to the injured plaintiff. This, once again, reduces the expected damages in medical malpractice claims.
Medical malpractice claims in Nevada are governed by numerous statutory and common law rules that distinguish such claims from other negligence-based causes of action. As such, it is imperative that you consult with an attorney experienced with such claims as soon as possible. Matthew Hoffmann is the partner at 9th Island Injury Lawyers that oversees such claims. Call him today for a free consultation if you or a loved one has suffered injuries and/or death as the result of the care and treatment received from a health care provider.