Medical Malpractice

Medical mistakes: an American epidemic and a personal tragedy

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We turn to doctors and other health care professionals to cure us when we are sick and heal us when we are injured. When doctors make avoidable medical errors, when they fail to follow the appropriate standard of care and are negligent in their diagnoses and treatment of patients, tragedy is all too often the result.

In fact, if medical malpractice were a disease, we would consider it an epidemic. Medical mistakes take the lives of 250,000 Americans every year according to a 2016 study from Johns Hopkins University, making it the third leading cause of death in the U.S., right behind heart disease and cancer.

The pain and trauma patients and their families experience because of medical malpractice are often accompanied by confusion and disbelief. It can be difficult if not impossible for patients or their families to know if a doctor’s error caused or contributed to their injuries and suffering. Without the assistance of attorneys who understand the complex legal and medical issues involved in malpractice cases, it can be equally challenging to hold doctors to account for their negligence once it is revealed.

Answers, assistance, and compensation for victims of medical malpractice throughout New England

In Maine and throughout New England, the Berman & Simmons’ medical malpractice lawyers help victims of medical negligence and their families get the answers and compensation they deserve.

We know how hard it can be when you realize that your suffering was caused by a doctor, nurse, or another healthcare professional who failed to do their job properly. Medical mistakes can include:

  • Your doctor failing to correctly identify, test for, or diagnose your condition, allowing a serious illness to go untreated for a long time.
  • Your doctor recommending the wrong course of treatment or prescribing medication that does more harm than good.
  • Doctors and staff missing the warning signs of a difficult or risky labor and delivery, failing to take the actions necessary to prevent serious birth injuries or harm to the mother.
  • Your doctor making errors with anesthesia and surgical techniques or failing to take steps necessary to minimize the chances of severe and potentially fatal infections.
  • The staff at a nursing home or assisted living facility neglecting or abusing vulnerable seniors, leaving them with severe physical, emotional, and psychological injuries that may never heal.

The best lawyers, the most resources, and over $1 billion for our clients

Berman & Simmons’ lawyers are widely recognized as the best personal injury lawyers in Maine. But for us, that it is not enough. With our unique resources and talent, we strive to be among the best in the country.

We have obtained several of the largest medical malpractice jury verdicts and settlements in Maine; a record built on experience, knowledge, and determined advocacy. But understanding complex medical issues and proving fault in these cases require much more than mastery of the law. We have access to the world’s leading and most highly credentialed medical experts whose analysis and testimony are often pivotal in our efforts to obtain full compensation for our clients. Those efforts have resulted in the recovery of over $1 billion for our personal injury clients.

A law firm focused on your well-being

Medical malpractice changes the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans every year. But abstract statistics mean little when you are focused on the immediate challenges you and your family face. At Berman & Simmons, we want to relieve you of these burdens so you can devote your time and energy to recovering.

When you speak with us at your free initial consultation, we will carefully and patiently listen to your story as part of our comprehensive effort to understand what happened. We will then bring our extensive experience and unmatched resources to bear on your behalf, developing solutions that can make your life better, including obtaining payment for or deferral of your debts until we resolve your case.

We are ready to help you today. Call us for your free consultation.

Maine has strict statutes of limitations for filing medical malpractice complaints, so it’s critical to consult with us as soon as possible if you think you or a loved one may be a victim of a medical error.

Please contact Berman & Simmons today at (207)784-3576 to arrange for your free consultation. You pay nothing unless we obtain compensation for you by settlement or jury verdict. Our Maine medical malpractice attorneys are ready to help you through this difficult time so you can recover and rebuild your life.

Our lawyers and staff members take the time to listen to you, understand your concerns, and come up with solutions that can make your life better, including obtaining payment for or deferral of your debts until your case is resolved.

We'll Take Care of the Heavy Lifting

We routinely represent injured patients in all varieties of medical malpractice, including:

$8.5 Million

Paralysis due to mismanagement of
degenerative spine

$2.5 Million

Catastrophic injuries in a head-on car accident

$800,000

Wrongful death case involving negligent
motorist

$715,000

Plaintiff Rear Ended by
Telephone Truck

$5 Million

Delay in diagnosis and treatment of cancer

$1.2 Million

Significant Head Injury Car Accident

Contact Us Today

Medical Malpractice FAQs

  • How do I choose a medical malpractice lawyer in Maine?

    There are several factors to consider when hiring a medical malpractice lawyer. First, make sure you choose a lawyer and firm with a proven record of success in cases like yours. Second, trust your instincts. You need to have a high level of comfort and trust with the person you choose to represent you, and his or her staff.

    Many lawyers claim to handle medical malpractice cases, but in fact, do not have expertise in this complex area of the law. Remember that the choice is up to you. You don’t have to hire the first (or even second or third) lawyer you interview.

  • What are some of the steps involved in a medical malpractice case?

    After determining you have a valid medical malpractice claim, we’ll file a Notice of Claim, proceed with the discovery period and pre-litigation panel hearing required for all medical malpractice cases and, when warranted, file a lawsuit.

    Determining If You Have a Medical Malpractice Case

  • What is a Pre-litigation Screening Panel in a medical malpractice case?

    Before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in court, we are required by Maine law to first present the case to a pre-litigation screening panel appointed by the superior court. The panel is made up of three panelists, including a representative of the healthcare industry; neither a judge nor a jury participates. The panel proceedings are confidential, but the opinions of the panelists can significantly influence the outcome of the case.

  • What is the statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Maine?

    In general, you have three years from the act of negligence causing your injury to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in Maine. However, there are a number of special circumstances that can shorten or extend that timeframe. The only way to know for sure is to speak with an experienced medical malpracitce lawyer as soon as possible.

  • What types of damages could I recover in a medical malpractice claim?

    Here are some brief definitions of the most common types of damages awarded in a personal injury lawsuit:

    • Economic damages include damages that can be calculated or fairly estimated, such as past and future medical expenses, lost wages and lost earnings potential. Expert witnesses can testify about how the injury impacted the person’s ability to earn a living in the future. These type of damages are sometimes referred to as “out of pocket” expenses.
    • Non-economic damages compensate victims for losses that are much harder to assign a specific dollar amount. Pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, emotinal distress, the loss of companionship from a loved one, or permanent loss of function or permanent disfigurement are all types of non-economic damages.

    Personal Injury Damages: What can I recover?

  • What types of questions should I ask a medical malpractice lawyer before I hire them?

    When you’re considering hiring a medical malpractice lawyer to represent you, here are a few questions you should ask:

    • Have you had success representing clients in cases similar to mine?
    • Does your firm have the financial resources to take on my case?
    • If necessary, are you prepared to take my case to trial?
    • What are some of the results you have obtained?
  • How do you determine if I have a valid medical malpractice case?

    We first need to determine whether or not you have a valid medical malpractice claim by proving that the medical provider failed to comply with accepted standards of practice in diagnosing or treating your condition, injury, or disease. We will also need to prove that this failure resulted in harm to you. This process involves an initial consultation with you, review of your medical records, research about your condition, including details about your medical history and treatments, and follow-up conversations with you.

    Determining If You Have a Medical Malpractice Case

  • Will I need to speak with the doctor or healthcare practitioner I’m considering suing?

    Absolutely not. You will not have to confront your doctor, healthcare provider or medical facility. We will take on that responsibility for you.

  • I really like my doctor and I’ve seen him for years. How could I sue him?

    There’s often feelings of guilt in taking legal action against another individual or an organization. We understand that. But there are other factors that must be considered. When doctors are negligent and someone is hurt or killed, they must be held accountable. This helps make sure healthcare companies put safety first. Our civil justice system is designed to provide you with fair compensation if you are harmed by the negligence of others.

    Hiring a Medical Malpractice Lawyer: What to Expect

  • I’m nervous about filing a medical malpractice claim.

    This is especially true for people who have never needed to consult with a lawyer or worry about wasting their valuable time. We talk to people every day who are facing the most difficult challenges of their lives and don’t know what to expect next. We handle a roller coaster of emotions and will help you through the entire process, from finding solutions to your immediate needs to helping you manage your ongoing medical care.

    Hiring a Medical Malpractice Lawyer: What to Expect

  • What is the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit against the VA?

    Lawsuits against the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are governed under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). This law provides a set of limited exceptions to immunities otherwise granted to the federal government. Under the FTCA, a claim must be filed within two years of the date of injury. That means if you file a claim two years and one day after your injury, the statute of limitations will have run out, and your case will be barred (meaning that you are forever prevented from bringing the claim).

    Locating and interpreting statutory exceptions and deadlines can be extremely stressful, especially when you’re injured. We recommend contacting a competent personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your injury occurs. An experienced firm like ours will take the burden off your shoulders so you can focus on your recovery.

  • Am I eligible to file a lawsuit against the VA?

    If you are a veteran, you are eligible to pursue a lawsuit against the VA for negligence, misdiagnosis, or malpractice. The FTCA enables you to seek money damages to recover for lost income, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. If you are the surviving family member of a deceased veteran, you can bring a legal claim for wrongful death.  

  • How do I file a complaint against the VA?

    To file a claim against the VA, you must first submit a claim directly via Standard Form 95 (SF-95). This allows the VA to settle your claim out of court. Once the VA receives the claim, you may not file a lawsuit unless the VA refuses to settle for a reasonable amount or ignores the report for more than six months.

    SF-95 forms are incredibly complicated and best completed with an attorney’s assistance. Berman & Simmons takes no fee unless your case succeeds, and attorney assistance generally leads to higher monetary outcomes.

  • Can you sue the VA for medical malpractice?

    Yes. You can sue the specific licensed medical provider, as well as their employer. Hospitals and medical facilities are expected to properly hire, train, and monitor their staff, which means multiple parties can be held liable.

    To succeed in a malpractice claim, you need to show that a doctor/patient relationship was formed between you and the medical provider. This means the provider agreed either verbally or through their actions to provide formal medical advice or treatment to you (versus providing general advice). Once this relationship is established, your provider must conform their conduct to the standard of care set forth by the medical profession.

    If your provider fails to abide by the standard of care and you suffer injury as a result, you can sue for malpractice. An example of malpractice includes failure to diagnose, which occurs when you present with typical symptoms of a medical condition that your provider fails to identify. Failure to diagnose can cause treatment delays, allowing your condition to worsen, or new conditions to develop.

  • What is the VA 1151 claim?

    A VA 1151 claim is actionable in more limited circumstances than an FTCA claim. It is essentially a claim for disability compensation instead of money damages. The benefit of filing a VA 1151 claim is that it is less complicated than a lawsuit and tends to resolve more quickly. However, VA 1151 claims are limited to those involving a VA hospital, outpatient clinic, medical examination, or surgery.

    Our firm has spent years serving veterans and can help you determine the most appropriate claim for your circumstances. We offer risk-free consultations via phone or in-person and take no fee unless your case succeeds. Don’t hesitate to contact us today.

  • What is failure to treat?

    Failure to treat can occur in a variety of circumstances. It essentially involves a healthcare professional neglecting to properly diagnose a medical condition or injury, causing a delay in essential care. Often, the patient’s condition worsens due to this delay, and new conditions may develop.

  • Can you sue for failure to treat?

    To sue for failure to treat, the elements of a medical malpractice claim must be met, including duty, breach, causation, and damages.

    A healthcare professional has a duty to you beginning the moment a provider/patient relationship is formed. Once this relationship is created, the healthcare provider is required to conform their care to the leading standards of the medical profession. This means that if it is a standard medical practice to respond to a certain set of symptoms with a particular diagnostic test, a physician’s failure to act accordingly can give rise to liability. 

    However, even if the provider fails to conform their care to medical standards, the patient still must show they were injured. Generally, a similarly credentialed medical provider’s expert testimony will be required to verify that your treating provider is responsible for the new or worsening conditions that resulted.

  • How can you sue a hospital for poor care?

    Medical malpractice is the legal cause of action for improper care that rises to the level of negligence. Failure to treat is one form of medical malpractice, but others include misdiagnosis, prescription drug errors, surgical or procedural errors, and childbirth injuries.

    Medical malpractice can also include general medical negligence. All hospital employees, including nursing staff and administrative workers, are expected to conform their conduct to the leading medical standards. For example, it is standard practice to place a patient in the ICU under certain conditions. If a person meets the criteria, but hospital staff fails to provide them with intensive care, the parties responsible for making the call can be held liable. 

    As with failure to treat, all successful medical malpractice claims require proof of duty, breach, causation, and damages. 

  • Can an emergency room turn you away?

    It depends. Federal law requires most hospitals to provide emergency services, regardless of whether a patient is insured. Generally, emergency staff is only required to stabilize a patient in these conditions.

    However, this law is limited to facilities that receive Medicare payments from the federal government. Private hospitals often have no requirement to treat you even if you’re suffering an emergency.

  • Can you be denied medical treatment?

    Yes. You can be denied non-emergency medical treatment. You can also be denied treatment at a doctor’s office or medical facility that does not have an emergency department. In addition, private hospitals that do not receive Medicare payments can refuse to treat you.

  • What do you do when a medical provider refuses to treat you?

    Even if your emergency isn’t obvious, you are entitled to be screened for any emergency health conditions if you go to a public hospital. If hospital staff refuse to provide a screening, tell them they are in violation of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTLA). If they still refuse to treat you, visit another public emergency room.

    The delay in medical care caused by visiting another hospital may cause new or worsening medical conditions. If this occurs, contact a medical malpractice attorney to discuss your rights.

  • How should I talk to a lawyer about failure to diagnose?

    Medical malpractice attorneys are happy to help you address your failure to diagnose claim. Many offer same-day free consultations and take no fee unless your case succeeds.

    It is always a good idea to bring any medical records you have to your appointment. We recommend taking notes beforehand so you don’t forget to mention important details, including the names of facilities and physicians that provided treatments, a timeline of events, relevant symptoms and diagnoses, dates of missed work, and details of other losses you may have suffered.

  • Can you sue a medical provider for failure to diagnose?

    Yes. Medical providers are expected to conform to leading medical standards. Provided a provider/patient relationship existed, if your provider failed to provide appropriate testing or ask necessary questions, you may sue for damages related to any new or worsening conditions that resulted.

  • How do you prove failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis?

    Expert testimony is the most common way to establish medical malpractice. This involves hiring a similarly credentialed physician to review your medical history. If the expert agrees with your claim, they will state under oath that your physician’s failure to diagnose gave rise to the new or worsening conditions.

  • Is failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis medical malpractice?

    Failure to diagnose and misdiagnosis are both forms of medical malpractice. In any malpractice claim, the patient generally must prove that a provider/patient relationship existed, that the physician breached the standard of care, and that the patient suffered damages as a result.

  • Is there a statute of limitations for failure to diagnose lawsuits?

    In Maine, failure to diagnose lawsuits generally have a three-year statute of limitations, which begins running the moment the medical malpractice occurs. This means that once you suffer injury due to failure to diagnose, you have three years from that day to bring a claim against your provider. 

    While many failure to diagnose cases are obvious, some may be more difficult to pinpoint.  We recommend contacting a medical malpractice attorney as soon as you suspect your medical provider’s negligence caused you harm.

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