You should always be able to count on your medical provider to deliver the appropriate services to you. But medical errors are a daily reality in Massachusetts. Know your rights.
Medical malpractice is a serious matter that can lead to consequences such as permanent physical injury, decreased emotional well-being, and even death.
Parties not directly affected can also be negatively impacted. In fact, Massachusetts law recognizes the right of a family member of an injured patient to bring a claim against the wrong-doer for his/her own loss.
On this page, you'll learn:
The Basics of Medical Malpractice in Massachusetts
Medical malpractice is negligence in the medical care and treatment provided by a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional. There are many different types of medical malpractice, such as:
This is not a complete list, by any means.
In order to prove a medical malpractice case, your lawyer must prove three things:
When a family member sustains serious injuries, the whole family can suffer. For example, if a father of a family is the victim of a surgical error and is left paralyzed, that affects his whole family and their financial well-being. For this reason, the law recognizes the right of certain family members of an injured patient to bring their own claims against the wrong-doer for their own loss. Massachusetts courts describe this type of claim as “a loss of consortium claim,” and can extend to spouses, children, and parents. This includes loss in the following areas:
How Medical Malpractice Cases Work
If a lawsuit is brought, costs can include legal research fees, depositions, and hiring expert witnesses, among others. This can add up to a significant amount of money. Often, SUGARMAN “advances” these funds to be repaid by the client if the claim is settled or if your attorney achieves a jury verdict. This means that you don’t have to be wealthy to get your day in court; you get a fair chance.
SUGARMAN's personal injury attorneys typically work on a contingency fee basis. This means a legal fee is only paid if the claim is successful in obtaining compensation. If there’s no recovery of compensation, there is no fee, and no repayment of the out-of-pocket expenses.
All fees and out-of-pocket expense reimbursements are agreed to up front, in a written contract signed by both the law firm and the client.
While each law firm may vary in the details, generally a good malpractice attorney will follow a process like this one.
There is no cut-and-dried way to find the right lawyer. Often, clients are referred by local general practice lawyers or by a family attorney to personal injury law firms.
The internet is a useful tool for anyone thinking about bringing a claim, but careful consideration and vetting is required in order to separate marketing claims from real-world client results. Reviewing personal injury law firm websites can help you learn more about various firms before making an informed decision.
For more information on finding the right lawyer for you, see our frequently asked questions page.
Other Common Questions about Medical Malpractice
Negligence is the failure of a responsible person, either by omission or by action, to exercise an appropriate degree of care, vigilance, and forethought. To prove that a healthcare provider was negligent, one must show that the provider did not give the “standard of care” that a patient should have received.
“Standard of care” means what an average medical provider in the field would do. For example, imagine a patient goes to the Emergency Room with sharp wrist pain after falling. If an average doctor would use an X-ray to check for a broken bone, then that would be the standard of care.
A matter is proved by a “preponderance of the evidence” if after all of the evidence has been weighed, the matter is more probably true than false. This is the standard of proof in all in medical malpractice actions and other personal injury cases. It is less strict than what is applied in a criminal case, where the prosecution must prove its case “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The standard of a preponderance of the evidence essentially means the greater weight of the evidence.
Statutory requirements are simply legal requirements that come from laws passed by the State or Federal Government.
Yes, Massachusetts has statutory requirements for medical malpractice cases. These requirements specify when a claim can be brought, what type of notice must be provided, limit the damages that can be collected, and require specialized types of evidence.
For instance, medical malpractice lawyers in Massachusetts must have a licensed healthcare provider in the same field as the defendant testify that there was a violation of the standard of care.
Generally, the standard statute of limitations on medical malpractice cases is three years. This means that victims of medical malpractice have three years after the malpractice occurs to go to a Massachusetts civil court and file a lawsuit.