Hawaii Medical Malpractice FAQ
There are a lot of myths, misunderstandings, and incorrect information about medical malpractice online. To avoid receiving the wrong advice, it’s important to talk with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer in Hawaii. Matt Menzer has handled medical negligence claims for thirty years, and he knows what he’s talking about.
How do I know if I’ve been a victim of medical malpractice?
In some cases, malpractice is immediately noticeable. You might come out of anesthesia to discover the surgeon performed the procedure on the wrong part of your body. But in most cases, it’s harder to figure out if your doctor committed malpractice. Sometimes, for example, there are unexpected complications from surgeries or treatments that are not caused by medical malpractice.
In order to bring a legal claim for injuries due to a medical error, you must be able to prove that the doctor or other healthcare provider was negligent, which means that he or she breached the standard of care of a reasonably prudent physician or other health-care provider. You must also be able to prove that you were seriously injured as a direct result of that negligent medical act. In order to prove that the doctor was negligent and that his or negligence caused you serious injuries, the law requires that you have one or more expert medical witnesses (usually doctors) who are willing to testify in support of your case after they review all of the critical medical records. The best way to evaluate your case and determine if you have been a victim of medical malpractice is to engage an experienced attorney who specializes in medical malpractice litigation to investigate your case, and to secure the high-quality medical experts needed to successfully evaluate your case
What kind of damages are available in a medical malpractice case?
You are entitled to receive certain kinds of compensatory damages in a medical malpractice claim, including compensation for your financial, physical, and emotional injuries. We’ll pursue damages for your past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages, disfigurement, disabilities, physical pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and your emotional distress and pain and suffering. Bear in mind, though, that Hawaii places a $375,000 per person limit on physical and emotional pain and suffering compensation under Hawaii Revised Statute §663-8.7.
Who do I sue if I’ve been a victim of medical malpractice?
If you are the victim of medical malpractice, we’ll likely file a claim against the negligent medical provider and/or their employer—a surgeon and a physician’s group, or a pharmacist and drug store, for example. Sometimes there is more than one responsible party and it is necessary to file a malpractice lawsuit against multiple defendants. However, the first step in a Hawaii medical tort case isn’t filing a lawsuit—it’s filing a complaint with the Medical Inquiry and Conciliation Panel. The panel’s decision isn’t binding, but Hawaii law requires you to take this step before going to court.
What kinds of mistakes are considered medical malpractice?
Under Hawaii Revised Statute §671-1, a medical tort (malpractice) means 1) professional negligence, 2) the rendering of a professional service without informed consent, or 3) an error or omission in professional practice by a health care provider, which causes a patient’s injury or death.
In other words, for a medical mistake or error to be considered medical malpractice in Hawaii, it must have either been an act or failure to act outside of the proper standard of care, or an act performed without your informed consent. Suffering a known side effect or complication isn’t malpractice if the doctor’s conduct was appropriate based on how other physicians, in the same field, would have acted in the same or similar circumstances.
Common types of medical malpractice include misdiagnoses, unreasonably delayed diagnoses, misreading of X-rays, medication and pharmaceutical errors, nursing errors, hospital errors like a hospital-acquired infection, and surgical errors.
What are the elements of a successful medical malpractice claim?
There are four elements that make you eligible to bring a medical malpractice claim. You have to prove the doctor had a duty of care, breached that duty of care, caused you harm, and caused you significant damages. You’ll often see these elements described as duty, breach, causation, and damages.
Stated in other words, in order to have a successful claim for compensation under Hawaii medical negligence law, you need to show:
- The defendant was a health care provider, which Hawaii defines as a licensed physician, osteopathic physician, surgeon, physician assistant, podiatrist, or health care facility.
- You had an established relationship with that doctor or facility—in other words, you were a patient. Without this, the doctor might not have had a duty to provide you with the required level of care.
- The doctor either failed to obtain your informed consent for a treatment or failed to provide care or treatment within the appropriate standard of care.
- That you can produce the sworn testimony of one or more qualified medical experts who will testify that the defendant health care provider was negligent and that his or her negligence caused your injuries.
- You suffered a significant injury that is either new or an aggravation of an existing condition.
- And that you have suffered damages as a result of your injuries.
Talk with a Hawaii Medical Malpractice Attorney Today
If you think you or a loved one were the victims of medical malpractice, the best thing you can do is schedule a free consultation with Menzer Law Firm in Wailuku, HI. Matt and his team take on cases in Maui and all the other neighbor islands. He’ll listen to your story and advise you of the best next steps, which might be reviewing your medical records and obtaining an expert medical opinion. If you have a valid case, he’ll guide you through the claims process and fight for your compensation.