How to Prove Medical Malpractice in Nevada
Last Updated on September 27,2023
In February 2023, a woman with “locked-in syndrome” won a $47 million verdict in a medical malpractice case, although she is expected to receive only a portion of the award. Amy Geiler filed a lawsuit in 2020, claiming that MountainView Hospital and Mountain’s Edge Hospital in Las Vegas failed to properly treat her low sodium levels during hospitalization following a fall. Due to the rapid increase in her sodium levels by the doctors, Geiler developed locked-in syndrome, leaving her unable to move but able to communicate through blinking.
After a five-week trial, the jury awarded Geiler $47 million, with $35 million for noneconomic damages. However, due to Nevada’s cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases, this amount will be reduced to $350,000. Geiler is expected to receive between $4 million and $5 million from the total settlement, which covers medical expenses and lost wages.
While the consequences of medical malpractice can be devastating, it’s essential to understand its various facets. For instance, mistakes in the emergency room can lead to severe consequences for patients. Moreover, understanding the importance of maximum medical recovery can be crucial in these situations. In the most tragic cases, families might even have to consider pursuing a wrongful death claim due to the negligence of healthcare professionals.
Medical malpractice in Nevada occurs when a healthcare provider deviates from the accepted standard of care, resulting in injury or harm to a patient. These cases are often complex, involving intricate legal and medical concepts. To successfully pursue a claim, victims of medical malpractice must demonstrate negligence on the part of the healthcare provider and prove that this negligence directly led to the injury or harm suffered.
Identifying the Four Key Elements of Medical Malpractice in Nevada
In Nevada, to successfully prove medical malpractice, four essential elements must be established: duty, breach, causation, and damages. Here are examples of each element:
- Duty: The healthcare provider’s obligation to adhere to an established standard of care. For example, a surgeon has a duty to perform a surgery with the same level of skill and care that any other reasonable surgeon in the same specialty would use under similar circumstances.
- Breach: The provider’s deviation from the standard of care. For instance, a surgeon might breach their duty by failing to properly sterilize their instruments before surgery, leading to a patient’s infection. This act of negligence would be considered a breach of the established standard of care.
- Causation: The connection between the breach and the injury sustained. To prove causation, the patient must show that the healthcare provider’s breach directly led to their injury. For example, a patient who develops an infection after surgery may argue that the surgeon’s failure to sterilize the instruments directly caused the infection.
- Damages: The losses suffered by the patient as a result of the malpractice. The damages endured by the patient due to the malpractice can encompass both economic and non-economic losses. Economic losses may involve medical expenses and lost income, while non-economic losses refer to those that are not easily quantifiable, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, or loss of enjoyment of life. In the previous example, the patient with the post-surgical infection may incur additional medical expenses to treat the infection, lose wages from being unable to work during recovery, and experience significant pain and suffering due to the infection.
The Role of Medical Experts: Proving Standard of Care Violations
Expert testimony plays a vital role in medical malpractice cases, as it helps establish the appropriate standard of care and whether the healthcare provider breached this standard. These experts, typically experienced medical professionals, can provide insight into the acceptable practices within their field and highlight any deviations that may have occurred. Their testimony helps demonstrate the negligence of the healthcare provider in question, making it an essential component of a successful medical malpractice claim.
Medical Records, Testimonies, and Documentation
Collecting the necessary evidence is vital for a successful medical malpractice case. This includes obtaining relevant medical records, testimonies from witnesses, and any other pertinent documentation. Thoroughly reviewing these records can uncover details that help substantiate a claim, such as inconsistencies in treatment, missing documentation, or discrepancies in the healthcare provider’s actions. Additionally, gathering evidence of the patient’s damages, such as medical bills and records of lost wages, can strengthen the case and help ensure fair compensation.
Navigating Nevada’s Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice
In Nevada, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is typically two years from the date of the injury or when the injury should have been reasonably discovered. However, there are several exceptions and nuances to this rule that may affect the deadline for filing a claim:
- Discovery Rule: If the injury is not immediately apparent, the discovery rule allows the two-year statute of limitations to begin from the date the patient reasonably should have discovered the injury. For instance, if a surgical sponge was left inside a patient’s body and the patient only discovered it after experiencing complications several months later, the two-year period would start from the date of discovery.
- Minor Patients: In cases involving minor patients (under 18 years old), the statute of limitations is typically extended until the child turns 18. Once the child turns 18, they have two years to file a claim.
- Fraudulent Concealment: If a healthcare provider fraudulently conceals their negligence or the injury, the statute of limitations can be tolled, or paused, until the patient discovers the malpractice or should have discovered it through reasonable diligence. This exception aims to prevent healthcare providers from evading responsibility by intentionally hiding their wrongdoing.
- Medical Malpractice Resulting in Death: When medical malpractice leads to the patient’s death, a separate wrongful death claim may be filed. In Nevada, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is also two years, starting from the date of death.
- Continuous Treatment Doctrine: If a patient is continuously treated by the same healthcare provider for the same condition, the statute of limitations may be extended until the treatment ends. This doctrine acknowledges that patients may not discover the malpractice until their treatment is complete.
Exploring Settlement Options: Negotiating a Fair Resolution for Your Malpractice Claim
Many medical malpractice cases are resolved through settlements rather than going to trial. This can save time and resources, but it is essential for patients to carefully consider their options and weigh the potential outcomes. A successful settlement negotiation requires a clear understanding of the case’s value, a thorough analysis of the evidence, and a willingness to compromise. Patients should be prepared to evaluate settlement offers critically and ensure that any accepted offer adequately compensates for the harm suffered.
When to Seek Legal Representation: How a Nevada Personal Injury Attorney Can Help Your Case
If you or someone close to you has been injured due to the negligence of a healthcare provider, an attorney can help gather evidence, navigate the statute of limitations, negotiate settlements, and advocate for the patient’s best interests. Contact us or call 702-680-1111 today for a free consultation.