How Do Medical Malpractice Claims Work in Chattanooga?
Although medical malpractice is a frequently alleged complaint, it is important to understand that dissatisfaction with a medical outcome does not necessarily constitute medical malpractice. A legitimate medical malpractice claim involves some kind of health care professional violating the expected standard of care.
A medical malpractice claim is very complicated and must satisfy numerous state laws and requirements. Patients have a limited amount of time to take action in these cases, so it is important to consult with a knowledgeable Chattanooga medical malpractice lawyer promptly.
If you suffered serious injuries or your loved one was killed as a result of medical malpractice in the Chattanooga area, you should contact Chattanooga personal injury attorneys at The Davis Firm, LLC, as soon as possible. Our law firm will conduct an exhaustive investigation, consult with medical experts to determine whether malpractice occurred and work to hold the medical professional or facility accountable. Call (423) 756-3591 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation now.
Step-by-Step Guide for Medical Malpractice Claims
Under Tennessee law, in order to have a valid medical malpractice claim, you must prove:
- The health care provider breached or violated the standard of care while providing medical treatment to you. (Standard of care refers to the accepted standard of professional practice for medical providers in the same geographic area.)
- You suffered injuries, which would otherwise have not occurred, because of the medical provider’s negligence.
Tennessee law establishes that in order to bring a medical malpractice claim, you must first give written notice of a potential claim to every health care provider you are making a claim against at least 60 days before the complaint is filed with the court. The notice must include:
- The patient’s full name and date of birth
- The name and address of the person making the claim, if the notice is not sent by the patient
- The name and address of the attorney sending the notice
- A list of names and addresses of all providers being sent a notice
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)-compliant medical authorization permitting the provider receiving the notice to obtain complete medical records from all providers being sent a notice
It is important to ensure that written notice has been provided to every defendant as required by law because failure to provide pre-suit notice can lead to a defendant filing a motion to dismiss the complaint.
Your attorney will also need to consult with one or more medical experts who can evaluate your case and determine that you have a valid claim. These medical experts will need to provide a signed statement regarding the merit of your case. Your attorney will then prepare a certificate of good faith indicating that the medical experts you consulted have confirmed that there is a basis for your medical malpractice claim. This certificate of good faith must be filed with your complaint, initiating your medical malpractice lawsuit.
There is no such thing as a simple personal injury lawsuit. However, medical malpractice claims are particularly complex and require the help of a knowledgeable attorney. In addition to the legwork that goes into gathering evidence of malpractice and building a strong claim for compensation, your attorney can manage all the technical aspects to ensure your case is properly crafted.
Medical Malpractice Caps in Tennessee
In 2011, legislation signed by former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam placed a number of limitations, commonly referred to as “caps,” on damages paid out in medical malpractice cases. The law also established that insurers cannot be sued under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act.
Under the law, noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering are limited to $750,000 per occurrence in medical malpractice cases. Punitive damages are capped at $500,000 and can only be awarded if the plaintiff can prove that the health care provider acted maliciously, intentionally, fraudulently, or recklessly.
No limits apply on punitive damages when the defendant is convicted of a felony that caused the injury or when the defendant was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The cap may also be raised to $1 million for noneconomic damages when a victim’s injuries are particularly catastrophic, such as amputations, paralysis, or blindness.
Statute of Limitations on Medical Malpractice Claims
The statute of limitations in a medical malpractice case is generally one year from the date that malpractice was discovered. Tennessee places a three-year statute of repose on medical malpractice claims, which means no claim can be filed three years after the malpractice occurred.
Certain exceptions do apply to the statute of limitations, however:
- One of the most common exceptions concerns medical malpractice victims who are minors. Minors can have their limitations period tolled (or delayed) until they turn 18 years of age. The minor will then have one year to file a medical malpractice claim after turning 18.
- Another possible exception concerns a defendant who no longer resides in the state, as any period in which a defendant cannot be located will likely not be counted against the limitations period.
- Tennessee law also allows for personal injury action deadlines to be extended up to two years when criminal charges have been filed against a defendant in a medical malpractice case.
How Our Chattanooga Medical Malpractice Lawyers Can Help
Did you suffer severe injuries or was your loved one killed due to medical malpractice in Chattanooga or another nearby community in Tennessee? If so, speak with one of our trusted attorneys as soon as possible about your case, your rights, and what action can be taken to pursue the justice you deserve.
The dedicated personal injury attorneys at The Davis Firm, LLC, help clients who have suffered all kinds of injuries due to preventable medical errors. We can discuss your rights when you call (423) 756-3591 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Our team represents clients on a contingency fee basis, which means that you will not pay any attorneys’ fees until we secure compensation on your behalf.