When our health or well-being is at stake, or we are sick or badly injured, we place our trust in our doctors, nurses, hospitals and other health care providers. Most medical professionals merit our trust, but when they make mistakes, just like every human does, the impact can be catastrophic for all, including our families and loved ones who depend on us.
While not every bad outcome in care from a health care provider equates with malpractice, it is often hard to know why it happened. More than 98,000 people die every year in the United States from preventable medical errors made by hospitals, doctors, nurses and other medical professionals [source]. When the care provided to you by a health care professional fails to meet the accepted standards of care in the community, causing you or your loved ones to suffer serious personal injury or death, The Law Offices of William H. Newkirk is there to help you get answers, and the compensation you deserve.
- Should I Sue?
- Who Should I Sue?
- When Should I Sue?
- What's The First Step?
- What's My Pain & Suffering 'Worth?'
- They want answers and no one will tell them what happened.
- They have serious injuries and need medical care.
- They have medical bills because of the wrongful injuries.
- They have economic losses from being out of work.
- They can no longer work at their profession or, possibly, work at all.
- They need assistance, which they can’t afford, with the tasks of daily living due to the wrongful injuries.
In more than 25 years of seeking justice for victims of medical malpractice, medical malpractice attorney Bill Newkirk at The Law Offices of William H. Newkirk finds that most medical malpractice occurs because of:
- Failure to treat
- Failure to diagnose cancer and other fatal diseases
- Failure to provide necessary tests or examinations
- Delaying treatment
- Providing the wrong treatment
- Lack of follow-up
- Surgical mistakes
- A misdiagnosis
- Unnecessary surgery
- Infections after surgery
- Nursing mistakes
- Inadequate or no training by persons providing treatment
- Failure to refer you to a specialist
- Failure to monitor a pregnancy, labor or delivery
- Medication errors
- Lab Technicians
- Kaiser and other HMOs
- Urgent Care Clinics
In addition to ensuring that medical records are not tampered with, the law enforces strict deadlines for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.
In California the law usually gives you one year to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, there are situations when you have only six months to file a claim and other circumstances in which you have two years to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
A good rule of thumb is that if you are not getting better or if your treatment caused you to get worse, you should contact medical malpractice attorney Bill Newkirk right away.
The arbitration agreement required you to give up your Constitutional right to a jury trial in the event of medical malpractice or a wrongful death by an HMO like Kaiser or Healthcare Partners. Your signing the agreement means that you accepted arbitration.
Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution, or ADR. Both sides agree they will accept the decision of an arbitrator (usually a retired judge or an attorney), who will hear the case. Usually judgments for victims are less than they would be in a jury trial.
Many trial lawyers either will not take arbitrations or are not experienced at arbitrations. Medical malpractice attorney Bill Newkirk of the Law Offices of William H. Newkirk is experienced in arbitrations and has earned clients significant judgments in arbitrations.
Because of several of the provisions of MICRA, the most any victim of an act of negligence by a health care provider can recover for their “pain and suffering”, no matter how severe, is $250,000. And, there has been no change in that amount in the more than 40 years since, in spite of an almost 300% increase in the cost of living, reducing the commensurate buying power of today’s dollars to about $60,000, when compared to the same amount in 1975.
Punitive damages are seldom available in such cases, and then only on proof of “egregious conduct” or intentional misconduct, presented well in advance of trial.
Here is one example of how unfair MICRA is to victims of medical malpractice: Take two women, neither of whom work outside the home. One woman is walking across the street and is hit by a car. She has to have her leg amputated.
The other woman goes into the hospital for a routine procedure, where a medical mistake is made, resulting in the amputation of her leg.
While a jury could find that the value of the woman’s leg who was hit by the car to be in the millions of dollars because of her inability to take care of herself and her family, the value of the leg amputated in the hospital due to a medical mistake is, because of MICRA, limited to $250,000.
Many victims of medical malpractice go from attorney to attorney looking for a lawyer to represent them. Often no lawyer can take their case because the costs necessary to even prepare for trial can reach upwards of $50,000 depending on the experts, exhibits, and other things needed to win a trial. The case then must be proven by the testimony of medical experts qualified in the areas of medicine involved who are willing to testify that the care is below the standard of practice in the community. If a victim of malpractice is not able to prove that they have suffered economic damages for lost earrnings or past and future medical expenses, the case is limited in value to no more than $250,000, and even that amount cannot be obtained by settlement without going to trial and getting a jury to award that sum. And, because of the cost of hiring medical experts and other pre-trial expenses, awards are often eaten up by the litigation expenses, and malpractice victims cannot afford to get justice.
Bill Newkirk is an Emeritus Member of the Board of Governors of the Consumer Attorneys of California, and a former member of the Board of Governors of the Consumer Attorneys of California. These two organizations continue to fight Big Insurance’s claims that victims of medical malpractice seek “jackpot justice” and trial lawyers file “frivolous lawsuits.” As a result of his standing in those organizations, he has often been called upon in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. to speak up for the victims of malpractice, appearing as a speaker before legislative committees on pending legislation and the rights of victims.
Trial lawyers want the public to hear your side of the story, not just Big Insurance’s sound bytes.
If you or a loved one is a victim of medical malpractice and you cannot find a lawyer to represent you, click here to share your story with the Consumer Attorneys of California by sending them an email. Help us fight Big Insurance.
Join Bill Newkirk, California Trial Lawyers, and victims of medical malpractice in the fight against MICRA and the insurance industry efforts to limit your rights.