Medical malpractice can have devastating effects on individuals. From misdiagnoses to improper treatment of a disease or injury, the long-term consequences are often serious. But what is it exactly? Medical malpractice (also called medical negligence) is when a health care provider neglects proper care to patients, resulting in further injury or even death.
According to a study by Johns Hopkins, more than 250,000 people die from medical error each year in the United States. In fact, the study suggests that errors may now be the third leading cause of death in the U.S.
If you’ve suffered prolonged injury or illness due to malpractice, here’s what you need to know about the laws surrounding malpractice.
What Are Non-economic Damages?
Wisconsin State Legislature defines non-economic damages as “moneys intended to compensate for pain and suffering; humiliation; embarrassment; worry; mental distress; non-economic effects of disability including loss of enjoyment of the normal activities, benefits and pleasures of life and loss of mental or physical health, well-being or bodily functions; loss of consortium, society and companionship; or loss of love and affection.”
That may seem complicated but what it essentially means is this: damages that aren’t tied to money. This is one type of damage that is rewarded in cases of medical malpractice.
What Would I Need to Prove in a Malpractice Suit?
Keeping track of your medical records, bills, and details of your injuries that affect your day-to-day life are essential when building a case for medical malpractice. And you must understand what you need to prove to win your case.
Cases must also follow these statutes of limitations:
- Three years from the date of the injury or one year after the discovery of the injury.
- One year if a foreign object with no purpose to the injury is found in the body.
What Are the Laws Surrounding Malpractice in Wisconsin?
In Wisconsin, there is a limit on how much compensation one receives in a malpractice suit. According to Wisconsin State Statute 893.55, this limitation sets out to:
- Protect access to healthcare by limiting disincentives.
- Maintain healthcare costs by reducing the need to defend against medical malpractice.
- Predict non-economic damages to help insurers set premiums and reduce financial risks.
- Provide more predictability for compensation for non-economic damages.
The Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund
There is a maximum limit to how much compensation victims of malpractice can receive. In 2006, Wisconsin State Legislature set the maximum amount of compensation for malpractice suits at $750,000. Each state has a fund to cover costs from malpractice.
In Wisconsin, the Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund is that fund. It provides coverage to health care providers to compensate those injured due to malpractice. More importantly, the compensation acts secondarily as an insurance for the healthcare providers that are involved in malpractice suits.
In recent news, there’s been a debate that the maximum amount for compensation may not be enough to cover costs. According to a story from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a woman who had all four limbs amputated due to a misdiagnosed infection was rewarded only $750,000 for non-economical damages. This is much less than the original $25 million reward granted in 2014. And, although their case went before the Supreme Court, it was overruled.
Have You Been Hurt by a Medical Professional?
If you or a loved one were injured due to the negligence of a medical professional, please contact Gebhard Law for more information and consultation. Depending on the nature and severity of your injuries, a medical malpractice lawsuit may be the only way to receive compensation for your economic and non-economic damages.