Can a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Help You Recover Compensation After a Misdiagnosis?
December 8, 2022
When we go to a doctor or a hospital, we expect our medical providers to give us accurate answers about the problems we are experiencing. We expect that doctors will use their advanced tools and extensive knowledge to give us a correct diagnosis. It can be frustrating when our health concerns are dismissed or misdiagnosed, and there can be severe consequences for delay in treatment or pursuing the wrong treatment. Some of these errors are the result of medical professionals failing to meet the standard of care.
If you or a loved one have been misdiagnosed, you may have a medical malpractice claim. The experienced medical malpractice lawyers at Gruel Mills can help you determine if you can recover compensation after a misdiagnosis.
Common Types of Misdiagnosis Cases
A misdiagnosis or delay in diagnosis can be the result of a number of mistakes. Imaging or other test results can be read wrong, a doctor may not recognize the signs of a life-threatening condition, or a provider may fail to order the appropriate tests.
Common types of misdiagnosis claims include:
- The doctor or radiologist misinterpreted the test results. Doctors usually rely on lab tests, X-rays, CT scans, MRI imaging, and other tests to provide valuable information on what condition a patient may have. One of these tests may have been administered wrong, or been misread. Or, a doctor may misinterpret accurate test results.
- False positives or negatives. Medical screenings have improved dramatically, but many still have a small margin of error. A test may indicate that you have a medical condition when you do not, leading you to get treatment you did not actually need. Or a test may indicate that you do not have a specific illness, which means you do not promptly begin treatment and your condition worsens. The standard of care for doctors often requires confirming a diagnosis with multiple factors that corroborate each other. A doctor who relies on only one test may have violated the standard of care.
- The physician failed to diagnose a related illness. Some diseases go hand-in-hand. Still, your doctor may identify the primary sickness but not notice a related condition. They could be liable for the resulting damage.
- Delayed diagnosis. A person may not get an accurate diagnosis promptly. Doctors may have delayed ordering the appropriate tests or failed to appreciate the severity of a patient’s condition. A delay in treatment may make the condition harder to treat or even reduce your chance of surviving.
Around 12 million people in the United States deal with diagnostic errors every year. Many of them can recover financial losses through medical malpractice claims. Speak with a lawyer at Gruel Mills today to see if you can get compensation for your misdiagnosis.
How does a Misdiagnosis happen?
Failing to Listen to the Patient
The causes of a misdiagnosis can vary. A doctor may fail to listen to their patient adequately as the patient explains their symptoms. Doctors should ask questions to narrow down what is wrong. They might not question further if they fail to listen to the patient properly. As a result, the victim may suffer from a missed, wrong, or delayed diagnosis.
Failing to Examine a Patient’s History
A doctor may not make an accurate diagnosis if they do not examine the patient’s history. Medical providers need to check the patient’s past and family medical history; this may help identify a problem or lead them to recommend preventative measures or screenings that catch a problem early. Your doctor could be liable for a diagnostic error if they did not ask about your medical background.
Failing to Identify Symptoms
Many diseases exhibit symptoms that are similar to one another. Therefore, there may be multiple conditions that could be causing the patient’s symptoms. However, specific signs or a particular combination of symptoms may reveal the identity of the illness. Doctors must be able to identify and rule out conditions to determine the root of the problem. Otherwise, patients could face significant consequences of incorrect or delayed treatment.
Delayed or Wrong Medical Tests
A doctor may need to order a test to identify a condition correctly. Misdiagnosis can occur if they do not obtain the necessary medical tests. Furthermore, you could hold your doctor liable if they ordered a test, but it was the wrong type.
How to Win a Misdiagnosis Claim?
The first requirement in a malpractice case is to show a doctor-patient relationship exists. When you seek treatment from a healthcare worker, they owe you a duty of care. They must meet the accepted standard of care, or else they could be liable for malpractice.
Next, you must show how the doctor failed to fulfill their duty of care. The doctor may have failed to ask clarifying questions or delayed ordering tests. If another competent doctor in the same situation would have made different choices, your doctor may have committed malpractice.
Finally, you must show that the misdiagnosis resulted in an injury. This may be that an illness progressed to an advanced stage and became harder to treat or you developed severe and debilitating symptoms. You may also have had to miss work or racked up extensive medical bills while you get treatment.
Once you prove that medical malpractice occurred, you become a step closer to getting reimbursement for your injuries. However, medical malpractice claims are complicated. An attorney can deal with this complex matter for you. They will investigate your claim and search for compelling evidence in your favor. Because of the complexity of medical malpractice suits, there is little chance that you can bring a successful claim without a law firm by your side.
Will Medical Treatment Hurt Your Case?
While your legal claim is underway, your well-being is still a top priority. You should seek treatment for your condition while your attorney works on your case. Pursuing medical care will not hurt your chances of getting compensation for malpractice.
The failure to get treatment right away is more likely to hurt your case. One reason is that the other side may use the delay of action to undermine your claim. They may argue that you made your injuries worse by failing to get prompt treatment, or that your injury or illness is not as bad as you state because you are not trying to fix it. As a result, they may attempt to reduce or avoid a payout.
Another reason to get medical care is to make sure that all of your medical bills are accounted for in the value of your claim. When you get treatment and incur medical bills, that gives your attorney strong proof of your damages and shows what you may need for future care. If you wait until after a settlement to get treatment, you may incur more expenses than you thought and there will be no way to get them reimbursed.
Can You Sue Years After the Misdiagnosis?
You might not learn about a misdiagnosis until years after it happened. Michigan generally has a two-year deadline for filing medical malpractice claims. However, there is an exception if you did not discover the malpractice until much later. This exception only applies if you are diligent and could not reasonably have figured out the problem earlier. However, even claims that are discovered late must be brought within six years after the negligent medical care was provided.
There are also certain circumstances that will extend the time you have to file a claim, like if the patient is a child when they are misdiagnosed. Your lawyer can determine if any of these “tolling” provisions apply in your case.
What Happens if the Plaintiff Dies?
Tragically, a misdiagnosis can lead to fatal injuries or death from the underlying disease. If the patient dies after they initiate the lawsuit, their claim can still proceed. The case simply turns into a wrongful death or “survival” action. A loved one or personal representative takes over as the representative of the victim and works with the attorney to resolve the case.
A wrongful death action is still based on the misdiagnosis and acknowledges the decedent’s losses. The victim’s estate can recover damages for funeral and burial expenses, medical bills, and the victim’s pain and suffering in the time between the malpractice and their death. Their family members can also seek compensation for the loss of financial support and the love and companionship of their loved one.
Can You Get Punitive Damages for a Misdiagnosis?
Punitive damages are a type of damages that punish the defendant for wrongful conduct rather than compensate the victim for their injuries. When a doctor’s negligence causes harm, it is understandable that the patient or their loved one might want to punish the doctor and ensure they never make the same mistake again. However, Michigan does not permit punitive damages in medical malpractice cases.
You may be able to recover damages to compensate you for pain and suffering. However, Michigan law imposes a limit, or “cap,” on these damages. There are two tiers of damages available, depending on the injury caused by the malpractice, and the exact amount increases each year with inflation. These caps are the most you can recover for noneconomic damages.
Is a Misdiagnosis Settlement Tax-Free?
Patients who need compensation to get back on their feet may worry about paying taxes on a medical malpractice settlement or judgment, but there is no need to worry. Personal injury damages are generally not taxable. Neither the state nor the federal government will take a portion of your compensation.
How to Find a Good Misdiagnosis Lawyer?
Medical malpractice is a complex area of the law. You need a lawyer with experience handling misdiagnosis cases to guide you through this difficult process.
At Gruel Mills, we know the law relevant to your misdiagnosis claim and we have decades of experience handling and winning these types of claims. Schedule a free consultation with us today to discuss your case and see how we can help you.