Medical Malpractice FAQs
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Are medical negligence claims different from claims against other professionals?
According to Vermont statute 12 V.S.A. § 1908 and the Vermont Supreme Court’s interpretation of that statute, in all but the most straightforward medical negligence cases, a patient must have a doctor testify in court concerning the appropriate standard of care that should have been rendered. A doctor must also testify that doctor or medical provider’s failure to adhere to that standard caused the injury in question. In addition, when filing a lawsuit against a doctor or medical provider one must file a form certifying to the Court that they have consulted with a physician who opines that the negligent care caused the patient harm.
How long do I have to bring a claim?
Typically, a patient is required to file a lawsuit within three years of the malpractice or two years if a patient dies because of the malpractice. There are exceptions to those time limits, and it takes time to investigate a claim including finding a physician to determine if there has been malpractice. Accordingly, it is important to promptly consult with a lawyer to protect your ability to pursue a claim.
Can I pursue a medical negligence claim if I feel I wasn’t fully informed about the risks involved in a procedure?
A patient may pursue a separate claim if they feel they were not properly informed about the risks associated with the medical procedure that led to the injury. The “informed consent” statute is quite specific and typically a claim will only be brought if there is also a related claim of medical negligence. 12 V.S.A. § 1909.
As next-of-kin, can I pursue a claim in court to compensation for the wrongful death of a family member?
If a family member dies as a result of negligence, Vermont’s Wrongful Death statute allows a decedent’s next-of-kin (typically the spouse and children of the decedent, but other family members may be able to pursue a claim if there are no spouse or children) to pursue a claim in court for pecuniary damages. 14 V.S.A. § 1492. The Vermont Supreme Court has ruled that pecuniary damages include economic and non-economic losses such as the loss of consortium and the grief of family members. The decedent’s estate may also pursue damages for any pain and suffering the decedent experienced because of the negligent care. 14 V.S.A. § 1452.