Kern County’s Premier
Personal Injury Lawyers



What Is Meconium Aspiration Syndrome?

Posted in Birth Injuries,Medical Malpractice,Personal Injury on December 31, 2018

Meconium aspiration syndrome is one of the most common life-threatening medical conditions a newborn can experience, appearing in about 5% to 10% of all births. Several risk factors can increase the chance of an infant developing meconium aspiration syndrome, and it is vital for parents to know these risk factors and consult with their doctors closely about any concerns.

How Does Meconium Aspiration Syndrome Happen?

Meconium is the medical term for the first fecal matter a fetus produces in the womb. Under certain conditions, an unborn infant may expel meconium into the amniotic fluid in the mother’s womb and then aspirate it. This can cause a severe infection that can jeopardize the baby’s life. Meconium Aspiration Syndrome most commonly occurs with babies in fetal distress, babies still in the womb past their due dates, and during difficult deliveries.

Treatments for Meconium Aspiration Syndrome

When an attending physician first recognizes the signs of meconium aspiration syndrome, the first step in addressing the issue is to suction the baby’s mouth as soon as possible. This will extract the meconium from the baby’s trachea, and the suction should continue until no trace of meconium appears in the suction device tube. If the meconium causes thick staining or the baby shows signs of distress, then the doctor may insert an endotracheal tube to suction out the last remaining traces of meconium.

A baby who undergoes this treatment will likely need intensive neonatal care. Doctors may administer antibiotics to prevent infection, implement a breathing machine to help keep the baby’s lungs inflated, and use a warmer to maintain body temperature. Light tapping on the baby’s chest can help loosen any secretions for easier removal as well.

In some cases, using suction is not advisable as it can cause a baby to develop pneumonia. If a baby arrives full-term at a healthy size with no signs of fetal distress, then doctors may use a saline solution to clear away meconium staining instead of using deep suction.

Can Malpractice Cause Meconium Aspiration Syndrome?

Difficult labor is the most common cause of meconium aspiration syndrome. A difficult delivery typically means the baby will be moving inside the mother more than usual, and this can make it easier for meconium to dislodge, combine with amniotic fluid, and then become lodged in the baby’s windpipe during delivery. Other risk factors for meconium aspiration syndrome are:

  • Decreased fetal oxygen levels while still in utero
  • The pregnant mother’s diabetes
  • The mother’s high blood pressure
  • Difficult labor
  • Fetal distress

These issues require immediate attention. If an attending physician did not properly monitor the mother’s or the baby’s vital signs and the baby develops meconium aspiration syndrome as a result, the physician committed medical malpractice and is liable for the resulting damages. A doctor may also face liability for medical malpractice for failing to recognize and address the signs of meconium aspiration syndrome in a newborn.

Damages in a Medical Malpractice Claim

Meconium aspiration syndrome can lead to persistent pulmonary hypertension, collapsed lungs, brain damage from lack of oxygen, aspiration pneumonia, and a host of other possible medical conditions. If a doctor causes this condition due to negligence or failure to meet the appropriate standard of care for the patient’s condition, then the doctor is liable for any medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering resulting from treating the baby’s condition.

It is essential for any parents who have had a child experience meconium aspiration syndrome to know their rights and legal options for recovery. Meconium Aspiration Syndrome has the potential to cause lifelong damage to a newborn baby, and doctors who negligently cause this condition or fail to treat it correctly are responsible for the damage they cause. Learn more by speaking with a Bakersfield medical malpractice lawyer.

How Long Does Post Concussion Syndrome Last?

Posted in Brain Injuries,Personal Injury on December 24, 2018

Concussions are some of the most common traumatic brain injuries in the United States. Although treatable and relatively mild compared to more severe brain injuries, concussions can still cause severe medical complications and leave victims more susceptible to concussions in the future. One of the most problematic possible effects of a concussion is the manifestation of Post-Concussion Syndrome, a medical condition that can entail a host of adverse symptoms.

What Is Post-Concussion Syndrome?

Post-Concussion Syndrome is a very complex medical condition that entails different symptoms for everyone who experiences the condition. It is important to note that Post-Concussion Syndrome applies to the symptoms a person experiences following a concussion and the term does not necessarily describe an exact set of symptoms.

Symptoms following a concussion typically subside within a week to ten days, but they can persist for months or even more than a year. Some reported symptoms are common following concussions.

  • Headaches, specifically tension headaches. It is also possible for a concussion victim to have tension headaches because of a neck injury that occurred at the same time as the concussion.
  • Rest is one of the most important treatments following a concussion. It is possible for a concussion victim to experience dizzy spells from standing up too fast or from remaining standing for too long.
  • A concussion can make a victim feel sapped of his or her energy, and these feelings can persist for some time. Again, rest is a very effective treatment.
  • Irritability and mood swings. A concussion can cause unpredictable changes in a person’s personality, and Post-Concussion Syndrome has a tendency to cause mood swings and episodes of intense agitation.
  • Insomnia and sleep difficulties. A person struggling with Post-Concussion Syndrome may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, and lack of sleep can potentially exacerbate other symptoms.
  • Memory problems. Post-Concussion Syndrome can interfere with memories and cause short-term memory difficulties following the injury.
  • Sensitivity to sound and light. One of the most common symptoms of a concussion and Post-Concussion Syndrome is increased sensitivity to light and sound.

Understanding the Effects of a Concussion

Medical research still has not pinpointed the exact reason why some concussion victims develop permanent symptoms of Post-Concussion Syndrome while others appear to make full recoveries in a matter of days to weeks. Some believe that a concussion causes structural damage to the brain itself which can, in turn, alter several brain functions. The brain may adapt to these changes and alter patterns of cognition and behavior rather than returning to normal after healing, so it is possible for a person to display significant personality changes after a concussion.

It is impossible to accurately predict how long Post-Concussion Syndrome will last for a particular patient. However, research has indicated that people who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, and anxiety are statistically more likely to suffer from long-term Post-Concussion Syndrome symptoms. Social environment, family support, and coping skills also seem to play a role in this.

Managing Post-Concussion Syndrome

Since you cannot predict how long Post-Concussion Syndrome will last for an individual, the best thing to do is to follow the attending physician’s instructions, get lots of rest, and take medications to manage unpleasant symptoms. It is important to track any changes in your condition after a concussion, for better or worse. If you notice some symptoms starting to increase in severity, notify your doctor immediately as this could be a sign of severe brain damage or another medical condition.

It is also crucial for anyone who has had a concussion to do everything possible to limit the chance of additional concussions in the future. For example, if you sustained a severe concussion while playing a team sport and experienced Post-Concussion Syndrome symptoms for several months, this should be a sign that it would be best to avoid returning to that sport in the future. In the event somebody else’s negligence caused your brain injury, speak with a knowledgeable Bakersfield brain injury lawyer to learn about your options for financial recovery.

What Is the Glasgow Coma Scale?

Posted in Brain Injuries,Personal Injury on December 17, 2018

Traumatic brain injuries are some of the most severe injuries a person can suffer and some traumatic brain injuries result in periods of unconsciousness. The Glasgow Coma Scale is a tool used by physicians to determine the severity of unconscious periods. Long periods of unconsciousness can have a dramatic effect on the health of the brain and it is vital for attending physicians to understand their patients’ situations and the risk of long-term brain damage.

The Glasgow Coma Scale helps physicians understand the severity of a brain injury and the scale uses several metrics to help determine this. In reality, anyone can refer to the Glasgow Coma Scale after another person suffers a brain injury to determine the severity of the victim’s condition. If your brain injury was caused by the negligence of another party, be sure to speak with a skilled Bakersfield brain injury lawyer to learn more about your legal options.

How Does the Scale Work?

The Glasgow Coma Scale measures three aspects of a brain injury: eye opening, verbal response, and motor response. A brain injury can interfere with all of these factors, and the Glasgow Coma Scale helps first responders ascertain the immediate damage following a brain injury.

The person administering a Glasgow Coma Scale test will first judge the victim’s eye opening. If the victim cannot open his or her eyes it qualifies as “not testable” or “none.” If the victim opens his or her eyes in response to pressure, this qualifies as a score of “2,” and eye opening in response to sound is a score of “3.” If the victim’s eyes spontaneously open, this receives a score of “4.”

The next step of the test is measuring verbal response ability. This scale includes:

  • 5: the victim appears oriented in his or her verbal responses.
  • 4: the victim appears confused based on verbal responses.
  • 3: the victim may speak incoherently.
  • 2: the victim makes sounds, but no intelligible words.
  • 1: the victim cannot make any sounds or words.
  • NT: “not testable,” which only applies to individuals who cannot speak regularly, such as infants.

A similar scale exists for motor response, but it extends to an additional level. This scale includes:

  • 6: the victim can obey simple commands such as touching fingertips together or pointing at objects in the distance.
  • 5: the victim displays localizing motor responses.
  • 4: the victim shows normal flexion in motor responses.
  • 3: the victim shows limited flexion in motor responses.
  • 2: the victim displays extension in motor responses.
  • 1: no motor response.
  • NT: “not testable,” which only applies to victims who cannot offer motor responses even in normal circumstances.

Once the person administering the Glasgow Coma Scale test determines scores for all three verticals for a victim, he or she adds the scores together to determine the severity of the victim’s condition. A mild brain injury typically falls in the range of GCS 13 to 15. A moderate brain injury will have a GCS score of 9 to 12, and a severe brain injury will measure 8 or less on the Glasgow Coma Scale.

Treating Brain Injuries

The Glasgow Coma Scale helps first responders determine a patient’s condition so he or she receives appropriate treatment. Severe and moderate brain injuries are the most likely to cause long-term damage, but the reality is that any type of brain injury has the potential to cause lasting damage. Any brain injury can result in cognitive impairment, memory problems, and permanent neurological damage.

Proper use of the Glasgow Coma Scale can help to ensure that a patient receives appropriate treatment for a brain injury in a timely manner. It is also important for anyone who administers a Glasgow Coma Scale test to remember that other factors like pre-existing medical conditions, shock, and drug and/or alcohol use can influence test results. Medical professionals can administer a separate Glasgow Coma Scale test to children who do not have the same motor and verbal capabilities as adults.

What Is Actual Cash Value?

Posted in car accidents on November 27, 2018

Imagine purchasing a new vehicle for $20,000 and then getting into an accident one year later. You prepare your insurance claim and expect coverage for the price you paid only for the insurer to respond with a much lower settlement offer than you anticipated. This may seem unfair, but the reality is that most standard auto insurance policies only cover a vehicle’s current market value at the time of an accident to determine settlement amounts. The “actual cash value,” or market price of a vehicle, can lead to a significantly lower insurance payout than a driver expects. To learn more, speak with an experienced Bakersfield car accident attorney.

How to Determine the Actual Cash Value of Your Vehicle

Most vehicle owners know that a brand new vehicle starts losing its value as soon as it leaves the dealership or seller lot. The Insurance Information Institute reports that the average vehicle loses about 20% of the initial sale value within the first year of ownership. To determine the value of a vehicle, analysts will look at other cars of the same make and model in the area and estimate the average price. Different factors like damage, age, options, and even the vehicle’s color may alter the value. One of the most common valuation systems used by car buyers and sellers is the Kelley Blue Book.

If a driver files an insurance claim and receives a much lower settlement offer than expected, the insurance claims adjuster will likely mention the “actual cash value” of the vehicle. The driver should be sure to ask how the adjuster arrived at the reported actual cash value. It’s also possible to do independent research to confirm the actual cash value as reported by an adjuster. The adjuster may have forgotten to add the value of special options or safety features your vehicle has that most others of the same make and model do not.

Possible Problems with Actual Cash Value

Since most vehicles lose value very quickly after purchase, the “actual cash value” of a vehicle can pose problems after an accident. If the car owner only made a small down payment, financed the vehicle over a period longer than 60 months, or purchased a vehicle that depreciates faster than average, an accident could leave the car owner with a remainder between what he or she still owes on the vehicle and the amount insurance covers.

Many car sellers, dealerships, and private auto insurance carriers offer Guaranteed Auto Protection (Gap) insurance that covers the “gap” between what a driver owes on a vehicle and the actual cash value of the vehicle at the time of the accident. Leasing a vehicle almost always requires gap insurance; this is mostly because the driver doesn’t actually own a leased vehicle and the leasing company will want some guarantee of the vehicle’s value for the duration of the lease.

In the event that the replacement cost of a damaged vehicle exceeds the actual cash value of the vehicle, the damaged vehicle is considered a total loss — or “totaled.” An auto insurance policy generally includes a disclaimer concerning a totaled vehicle and will stipulate how the insurance company will handle a total loss claim. Some insurers will cover the average price of an equivalent vehicle based on current market values while others may even guarantee to replace a totaled vehicle with a version that is one model year newer.

Drivers should carefully read policy terms before agreeing to a policy. If there are discrepancies concerning the actual cash value of a vehicle involved in an insurance claim, the driver can consult an attorney about the terms of his or her auto insurance policy and how to approach the claims process.

Safe Driving Tips for Seniors

Posted in car accidents on November 20, 2018

Senior drivers may have more experience on the road than younger drivers but they are more likely to have medical issues that may interfere with driving ability. It’s crucial for all seniors to keep careful track of their medical conditions and speak with their doctors about any concerns as soon as they arise. If a senior relies on driving every day, it’s important to keep close tabs on any changes in vision, reaction time, memory, coordination, or other physiological issues that may impact driving ability.

Keep Track of Physical Changes

Many older adults suffer from arthritis and other types of muscle and joint pains. These issues may make it difficult to operate a vehicle’s controls, especially during an emergency situation where the driver needs to shift, brake, or swerve to avoid a collision. Muscle and joint pain can potentially make it difficult to safety check rear-view mirrors and blind spots before turns and lane changes.

Stress and fatigue can also pose more risk to older drivers than younger ones. Stress can aggravate other medical conditions in senior drivers and make driving more difficult. Depending on how long the driver will remain behind the wheel, fatigue can also pose a major problem and significantly increase the risk of an accident. Senior drivers should plan carefully before making any long trips.

Be Careful with Medications

Many senior drivers take prescription medications for at least one medical issue. Some medicines can impact driving ability, so it’s crucial for older drivers to keep close track of the potential side effects of their medications, when they take doses, and how long doses last. Medication can cause problems if a senior driver stays behind the wheel too long without access to a necessary medication, misses a dose, accidentally double-doses, or takes medications that cause adverse side effects right before driving.

Schedule Regular Hearing and Vision Tests

Our sensory faculties are often the first bodily systems to experience deterioration from aging. Hearing and vision are very important for drivers to avoid accidents, and some states have even adopted laws mandating hearing and vision checks for drivers over certain ages. These drivers will need to undergo the required screenings before they can complete a driver’s license renewal. Senior drivers who use contacts or eyeglasses should always wear them while driving.

Deteriorated hearing and vision can make it more difficult to navigate the road at night, during inclement weather, or during heavy traffic congestion. Poor hearing may lead to a senior driver failing to notice an emergency siren or car horn in time to avoid a collision. Poor vision can make it unsafe to drive at night or during low-light conditions.

Drive Defensively

Defensive driving is a wise choice for drivers of all ages but senior drivers should be as realistic as possible about their driving abilities and use extra caution. “Defensive driving” refers to a driver taking a passive, anticipatory approach to driving rather than an aggressive one. This means braking early, maintaining awareness of the vehicle’s surroundings, and being more passive in busier areas.

Senior drivers also benefit from avoiding busy areas. Traffic congestion can make it very difficult to maintain situational awareness. An older driver struggling with hearing or vision loss may have even more trouble navigating traffic jams. Defensive driving and avoiding busy areas are great ways for senior drivers to avoid car accidents.

Older drivers may not enjoy the idea of surrendering a driver’s license, but it is essential for drivers of all ages to be realistic about their driving ability and acknowledge when it may be time to accept that it is too dangerous to keep driving. However, senior drivers may also be able to make a few changes to their routines that make driving safer, such as avoiding driving at night, planning routes in advance, and keeping close tabs on medical issues that impact driving ability. This helps senior drivers stay on the road longer and more safely.

What Is Gap Insurance and What Does It Cover?

Posted in car accidents on November 13, 2018

Buying a new vehicle entails much more than paying a large down payment and arranging financing options. New vehicles require registration and insurance, and generally cost more to insure than older models. Vehicle owners need to carefully shop for auto insurance that not only meets their state’s requirements for coverage minimums but also provides the policyholder with a good balance of coverage at an affordable premium.

Most vehicle owners know that as soon as a person purchases a vehicle and drives it off the dealership lot, the vehicle starts losing value. The Insurance Information Institute (III) reports that most vehicles lose about 20% of their initial value within the first year of ownership. Despite this, most standard vehicle insurance policies only cover the depreciated value of an insured vehicle. This means if a policyholder has an accident, the insurance coverage will refer to the value of the vehicle at the time of the accident, not when the owner bought it. To learn more, speak with a car accident lawyer in Bakersfield.

Gap Insurance Offers Peace of Mind

When a driver purchases or leases a new vehicle with only a small deposit, he or she finances the vehicle and makes monthly payments to pay it off in full over time. The vehicle continues to depreciate in value as the owner makes these payments over a few years. Gap insurance can help a new car owner feel more at ease and soften the financial blow after an accident. When an accident happens involving a vehicle the driver hasn’t fully paid off, gap insurance covers the difference between the current market value of the vehicle that the insurance policy will cover and the amount the driver still owes on the vehicle.

For example, John buys a new car for $20,000. One year later the market value of the vehicle has dropped to $13,000, but John has only paid $3,000 off the full price, owing a remaining $17,000 on the vehicle. If John gets into an accident with gap insurance coverage, the gap coverage will apply to the $4,000 difference between what John still owed on the vehicle and the current market value of the vehicle at the time of the accident.

When to Consider Gap Insurance

New drivers or drivers purchasing a second or third vehicle generally have many options when it comes to insurance coverage. A few indicators that a driver should consider gap insurance coverage with an auto insurance policy include:

  • Down payment amount. If the driver paid only 20% or less of the vehicle’s value as a down payment, it is a very good idea for the driver to purchase gap insurance for at least the first few years of owning the vehicle.
  • If the buyer finances the vehicle for more than 60 months, it will take quite a while to pay off the remaining balance. The vehicle will likely depreciate significantly during this time, so gap insurance can be very helpful for an accident in the first few years.
  • When a driver leases a vehicle, he or she doesn’t technically own the vehicle, so the dealer or seller will need some guarantee that the driver will take good care of the vehicle. Gap insurance is usually a requirement for leasing a vehicle.
  • Rapid devaluation. Some vehicles lose their value more quickly than others. Well-built vehicles in high demand typically retain their value longer than models discovered to have defects or common issues.
  • Negative equity. Some drivers will roll the negative equity leftover from a previous car loan into a new loan. This could increase the effective cost of the vehicle beyond its actual value, but the vehicle will still depreciate over time. Gap insurance offsets the financial risk of an accident significantly in such cases.

Some dealerships and car sellers will offer gap insurance for a new vehicle purchase or lease, but many private insurance carriers also over gap coverage. This type of coverage may only cost about $20, added onto the policyholder’s existing policy, but every insurance carrier offers different rates and package options.

What Is Post-Concussion Syndrome?

Posted in Brain Injuries,Personal Injury on October 16, 2018

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that occurs when a force causes the brain to move inside the skull cavity, striking the insides of the skull. The brain essentially floats within the skull, and any traumatic impact or blow to the head can cause the brain to shift violently within this fluid. After the brain strikes the inside of the skull, the victim experiences a concussion, and the symptoms vary greatly from person to person.

A concussion may result in a brief period of unconsciousness, disorientation, and confusion. Other symptoms can include sensitivity to noise and light, headache, nausea, sensory confusion, and a host of other symptoms. The immediate effects of a concussion may only appear to last a few hours to a few days, but one of the most troubling aspects of concussions is their tendency to cause long-term problems, including post-concussion syndrome. In the event you or somebody you love sustained head injuries caused by the negligence of another party, speak with a Bakersfield brain injury attorney as soon as possible.

What Are the Symptoms of Post Concussion Syndrome?

An individual who experiences a concussion will be more susceptible to concussions in the future, and he or she may also develop post-concussion syndrome. The symptoms of this condition differ for every individual, so a physician may diagnose a patient as having post-concussion syndrome in one of many ways. Some of the most common symptoms of post-concussion syndrome include:

  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Vertigo
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
  • Lapses in memory and/or diminished short-term memory
  • Fatigue, apathy, and symptoms of depression
  • Noticeable personality changes

A physician may look for three or more of these symptoms to diagnose a patient with post-concussion syndrome, and additional screenings such as CT scans and MRIs may help accurately diagnose a patient.

Prognosis for Post-Concussion Syndrome

Post-concussion syndrome has physical and psychological effects, making it difficult to treat in some patients. Rest is generally the most recommended treatment for a concussion, but this may exacerbate the psychological symptoms of post-concussion syndrome like depression, anxiety, and restlessness. Most patients who experience post-concussion syndrome make full recoveries within three months, but some cases can last a year or longer.

No one-size-fits-all approach to treating post-concussion syndrome is available, as the symptoms differ for every person who experiences it. Physicians must develop individualized treatment plans to address the physical and psychological symptoms of post-concussion syndrome for the best recovery experience.

Individuals who experience concussions and the symptoms of post-concussion syndrome should take care to prevent subsequent concussions in the future. Individuals who experience a second or third concussion generally report more severe symptoms, and repeat concussions are more likely to cause long-term damage.

Risk Factors for Concussions

Two of the most common causes of concussions in the United States are motor vehicle accidents and sports injuries. Motor vehicle accidents continue to be one of the leading causes of accidental injury and death in the U.S., and many people who survive serious car accidents sustain concussions. Many contact sports are prevalent in American life as well.

Football, hockey, basketball, soccer, and many other sports carry risks of causing concussions from collisions with other players, falls to the ground, blows to the head from equipment, and many other potential hazards. Athletes, especially younger athletes still in school, should take care to follow their sports’ safety regulations and wear appropriate equipment to prevent concussions.

While you can never predict the actions of other drivers on the road, you can use good judgment to do your part to prevent motor vehicle accidents and limit your risk of injury if an accident happens. Always wear a seatbelt while driving or riding as a passenger and drive defensively. Refrain from speeding and aggressive driving and use extra caution in high-risk areas like construction zones, heavy merging areas, and busy city streets. It’s possible to sustain a concussion from even a mild fender-bender, so safe driving is a great way to prevent these injuries

How Long Do You Have to Sue a Doctor?

Posted in Medical Malpractice,Personal Injury on October 9, 2018

Whenever you believe you have grounds to take legal action against another party for civil damages, you must first ensure you meet the statute of limitations for your claim. A statute of limitations is essentially a time limit for filing legal claims. Different statutes exist for different types of claims, and the laws concerning these statutes vary from state to state.

A medical malpractice claim is a complex civil action that typically requires a claim review from a medical board before it can proceed, and symptoms from some medical conditions or injuries may not immediately appear. If you are unsure whether your claim will meet the required statute of limitations for your situation, your Bakersfield medical malpractice lawyer should be able to help you determine when your statute of limitations started.

How Does the Statute of Limitations Work?

The justice system recognizes that injured people cannot always take legal action immediately following an injury. In some cases, an acquired injury or illness may not manifest any noticeable symptoms for a long time, making it difficult to pinpoint the exact date a medical condition appeared. However, the justice system also recognizes the need for a system that discourages frivolous or outdated claims that use valuable time and resources. Therefore, a claimant who wishes to take legal action against a medical professional must do so within the appropriate statute of limitations for his or her state. In California, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is three years on the date of harm or one year from the date of discovery of harm.

Discovery Rule for Medical Malpractice Claims

The earliest date that a statute of limitations can begin for an injury claim is the date that harm occurred. This applies when the injury or illness is immediately noticeable, or the cause of the injury is immediately apparent. Several things may “toll” or delay the statute of limitations. The Discovery rule applies to cases involving symptoms that develop over time, or medical conditions that do not immediately display the full scope of harm.

Under the discovery rule, the statute of limitations may begin on the “date of discovery,” or the date the symptoms of harm became visible or noticeable. The court may also apply this statute to the date that a plaintiff should have noticed or discovered the harm with reasonable diligence. For example, if a person experienced stomach pain after a surgical procedure but did not notify anyone or see a doctor for several weeks, the statute would likely begin on the date his or her symptoms appeared and not the date of the diagnosis or the date of the surgery.

It’s important to remember that many states place a statute of repose on medical malpractice claims. These statutes function as hard time limits for taking legal action. For example, a state may have a 10-year statute of repose for medical malpractice claims. This means that a plaintiff must discover the harm from medical negligence and take legal action within 10 years of the date of injury, not the date of discovery. In California, the only exception to the three-year statute is for cases involving foreign objects left in a patient’s body during surgery. These cases must still meet the one-year statute under the discovery rule, but claimants may take legal action many years after the normal three-year statute has passed.

A medical malpractice lawsuit is a very complex legal matter that requires meeting various legal deadlines and filing requirements, so time is a critical factor for anyone who wishes to pursue a medical malpractice claim. A Bakersfield personal injury attorney experienced in medical malpractice cases can help you determine whether your claim meets the applicable statute of limitations for your situation.

How to File a Complaint Against a Doctor in California

Posted in California,Medical Malpractice on October 9, 2018

When another person causes an injury or other damages, you can pursue a personal injury claim to recover your losses. However, if the person who injured you was a doctor administering medical treatment, it’s first vital to determine whether medical malpractice occurred. A medical malpractice lawsuit will follow a similar framework to a personal injury lawsuit with a few notable exceptions. In California, a medical malpractice claim will need to pass through the Medical Board of California before you can proceed with your lawsuit.

Starting Your Medical Malpractice Claim

It’s important to remember that medicine is an inherently uncertain field. New treatments show promise for a variety of conditions, and medical science has advanced tremendously in recent years. Individual reactions to medical conditions and diseases can differ greatly as well. A margin of error always exists in medicine, and even an accomplished, skilled, and competent medical professional can make an honest mistake.

The Medical Board of California reviews medical malpractice claims to determine whether the claimant has grounds for a lawsuit. Essentially, the medical board reviews the details of the claim to determine if the defendant in the claim failed to meet the acceptable standard of care for the patient’s situation. If the board finds that the plaintiff has grounds for a medical malpractice claim, it may investigate and press charges, if necessary. Approval from the medical board is one of the most important requirements for filing a medical malpractice claim in California.

Standard of Care

The medical community reaches consensus for known medical conditions to decide the best methods for treating those conditions. New treatments, medications, and therapies require thorough testing before the medical community can rely on them on a regular basis. The “standard of care” is the level of treatment the medical community recommends for a condition. If a physician fails to meet this standard of care or deviates from the standard of care without justification and harms the patient, the physician commits medical malpractice.

It’s important to note that medical negligence does not necessarily equate to medical malpractice. Medical negligence describes a deviation from the standard of care, while medical malpractice describes a deviation resulting in patient harm. It’s possible for a defendant to have committed medical negligence without committing medical malpractice. If the patient did not suffer any harm from the defendant’s negligence, there is no claim.

The Medical Board of California also investigates claims pertaining to sexual misconduct, the administration of medical treatment under the influence of drugs or alcohol, substandard medical care, improper prescription practices, unprofessional conduct, and office practice complaints. It’s possible for a medical malpractice claim to touch on many of these issues, so the Medical Board’s investigation will be critical to a subsequent lawsuit.

The Claim Process

Once the Medical Board of California receives your complaint and determines that the claim falls within its jurisdiction, it will mail you an acknowledgment of receipt of your claim. A medical board analyst may contact you to request documentation related to your claim or to release some of your medical records. Once the board has your complaint and the necessary documentation, a medical consultant will review the complaint to determine whether the claim has grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

No one can predict how long the claims process will take. Each case has many unique factors that may complicate the process. The board’s responsibility is to investigate any claims of medical professionals violating the standard of care for their patients and pursuing administrative action against those professionals if necessary. Once you know that the defendant in your claim violated the standard of care in your treatment, an experienced Bakersfield medical malpractice lawyer can help you build your case and take your next steps toward recovery.

Can I Sue a Doctor for Prescribing Wrong Medication?

Posted in Medical Malpractice,Personal Injury on September 27, 2018

Medications can be powerful tools to help treat medical conditions, but improper usage can also lead to further complications – especially with prescription drugs. When improper medicines, dosages, or even combinations of medications come into play, a patient may suffer a further decline in health, or even a wrongful death. If the fault rests with the prescribing doctor, is it possible to sue? Read on to learn more or consider speaking with a Bakersfield medical malpractice attorney.

Prescription Errors as Medical Malpractice

Prescription errors can be a form of medical malpractice, in which a healthcare professional’s negligence leads to harm or damages to a patient. As a type of personal injury case, a medical malpractice claim consists of three major factors:

  • The doctor had a duty of care to the patient
  • The doctor breached that duty of care
  • The breach caused the plaintiff harm

In terms of prescription errors, the doctor has a duty of care to provide you with reasonable treatment. Prescribing the wrong medication (which can have severe consequences) is the breach of that duty, and any resulting harm that resulted from that prescription error may be eligible for compensation.

The complication that can arise from these cases is proving the duty of care and the breach. Often, the plaintiff will accomplish this by bringing in an expert witness that can testify and establish a reasonable standard of care, which serves as a comparison point for the doctor’s actions. In many cases, a doctor may be at fault if he or she:

  • Prescribes an incorrect medicine
  • Prescribes an incorrect dosage
  • Prescribes a medication that has known negative side effects with a patient’s other medications
  • Prescribes a medication that triggers a patient’s known allergies
  • Prescribes a medication that does not help the medical condition and causes the patient’s condition to worsen
  • Does not make clear the instructions for correct usage
  • Writes a prescription that a pharmacist may misread

Another important point of this type of case is that the error must have caused some form of harm. For example, if you picked up your prescription from the pharmacist and recognized the dosage was incorrect before taking any, you would not have a claim. The same would hold true even if you took the incorrect dosage and experienced no side effects.

Other Potentially Responsible Parties for Prescription Errors

While the doctor is often the first person you may consider suing for your prescription errors, he or she is not always the responsible party. Pharmacists, nurses, and manufacturers are all potentially liable for a prescription error. In some hospitals, the medical institution may be liable for any errors made by its staff. Additionally, a patient can be partially at fault if he or she is not open about his or her medical history when consulting with healthcare professionals.

With so many potentially liable parties for a prescription error, it’s essential to have skilled legal help on your side – both to correctly determine the at fault party and to meet strict filing requirements. Inaccurately filing your claim can be the difference in between a successful case and a lack of compensation. With the investigation resources and expert contacts of a law firm, you increase your chances of receiving compensation for the prescription error.

California law sets the statute of limitations for most medical malpractice cases to one year after discovery of injuries or within three years of the date of the injury. This strict timeline applies to prescription errors and means that you may waive your right to compensation if you do not file promptly. It’s in your best interest to hire an attorney the moment you discover the damages caused by the error.

If you’re uncertain if you have a medical malpractice case due to a prescription error, talking with a Bakersfield lawyer can help you understand your rights and learn if you’re eligible to receive compensation.