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Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs about Medical Malpractice

Medical Malpractice FAQs

How do I know whether I have a medical malpractice claim?

That’s why you call us. If you or a family member has sustained an injury, tell us about your situation even if you’re not sure whether someone else is at fault.

Every personal injury case follows a basic framework. The plaintiff must prove 1) that the defendant had a duty to the plaintiff; 2) that the defendant violated that duty; 3) that the plaintiff was harmed; and 4) that the defendant’s breach of duty caused that harm.

Some cases are quite obvious:  we all have a duty not to run red lights and crash into each other, for example. Other duties are more complicated or technical. In medical negligence cases, for example, identifying the doctor’s specific duty, concluding whether he or she breached that duty, and determining whether that breach caused injury requires a thorough understanding of the treatment involved and the standards the medical profession imposes on doctors performing such treatment. At Kidman Tinker, PLLC we have the training and experience to address those issues.

A variety of negligent medical errors may be the subject of a malpractice lawsuit. Malpractice claims often allege one of the following types of medical errors:

  • Missed, delayed, or incorrect diagnosis.
  • Surgical or other treatment errors.
  • Improper monitoring of patient health.
  • Anesthesia errors.
  • Medication errors.
  • Childbirth injuries.

How do I know whether I have a good case?

We help you with that when you contact us. We can learn a lot about your potential case by having an in-depth phone conversation with you. If we feel your case meets our initial criteria, a full evaluation of your case will includea thorough review of your medical records, legal and medical literature research, and, in many cases, consultation with medical and other professional experts. We consider who may have been negligent (it may be more than one person or entity), the nature and extent of the injury, and whether negligence was the actual cause of the injury. There is no charge for our initial consultation and review.

At Kidman Tinker, PLLC we have a record of success representing victims of negligent medical errors in Seattle and throughout Washington state. Contact us to discuss your case and your legal rights in a free consultation. You can reach us by phone or by using our online contact form.

Why Tinker?

There are many lawyers out there. We stand out because of our experience and our results. We focus nearly our entire practice on a specific type of case—medical negligence—and we have been doing it well for decades. Our attorneys work as a team. Each of our clients enjoys the pooled knowledge and expertise of the entire firm behind his or her case.

I don’t live in Seattle or Bainbridge Island. Are you the right lawyers for me?

We represent clients from all over Washington. In the last five years, we’ve represented clients from Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue, Issaquah, Lynnwood, Everett, Shoreline, Anacortes, Port Townsend, Port Orchard, Silverdale, Poulsbo, Kingston, Bainbridge Island, Longbranch, Gig Harbor, Puyallup, Enumclaw, Buckley, Olympia, Long Beach, Raymond, Chehalis, Ellensburg, Omak, Moses Lake, Leavenworth, Yakima, Spokane, and Kennewick. We often travel to meet with our clients.

If I have a medical malpractice claim, don’t I have to sue by a certain time?

Yes. For every type of case there is a time frame within which you must file your claim with the court. The time frames are called “statutes of limitations,” they are determined by state and federal law. You must file your claim within the applicable statute of limitations or your case will be forever barred—no matter how badly you’ve been injured or how negligent the conduct of the defendant.

In general, the statute of limitations that applies to most personal injury and wrongful death cases arising in Washington is three years. In some medical negligence cases, including those involving children under 18, there are exceptions that may give you more time.

The limitations period applicable to lawsuits against the United States government is different, even if the case arises in the state of Washington. In general, a claim for personal injury against a United States government agency or anyone working for the government (for example, the VA Hospital and physicians working there) must be filed within two years of the negligent act causing injury. Again, exceptions extending the applicable limitations periods may exist, and special notice requirements may apply.

WARNING: If you believe that you or a family member has been injured by someone else’s negligence, do not delay in consulting an attorney. Do not assume that you have plenty of time to call a lawyer. The above is only general information and may or may not apply to your case. Also, Congress and/or the state legislature may change the statute of limitations at any time. Conversely, even if it has been several years since you were injured, do not assume the limitations period has expired. Call us and we will evaluate whether your claim can still be pursued.

How much is my case going to cost? What will it cost me to hire you?

In most of our cases, we do not charge an hourly fee. Instead, we work on a contingency fee basis, meaning we receive fees only upon successful resolution of your case. In plain language, we get paid only if we succeed. Our fee is a percentage of the total settlement or award you receive. The percentage is agreed upon up before we take your case, and you pay us nothing up front.

A serious personal injury case can also require substantial out-of-pocket costs, including everything from postage to hiring expert witnesses. Our typical practice is to use our own money to advance those costs.  The costs of the case are then reimbursed to us out of any settlement or verdict.

How long will my case take?

In most cases, our Intake Specialist will be your initial contact. She will take notes on key information and then discuss the potential case with the attorneys as soon as possible and set up a meeting for the attorneys to discuss your case. We know you are anxious to hear back about your claim. You can expect to hear from us with our initial evaluation within days of your call.

In the next evaluation stage of your case, you should expect the process of collecting the facts and, if necessary, locating and retaining favorable experts, to take some time. We update clients as we have new information. Our clients are also welcome to call with questions, and to check the status of our progress.

After your case has been filed, the court will set (or we will ask for) a trial date.Typically, there is a lengthy wait for a trial date.In King County, for example, civil cases are ordinarily set for trial a year or moreafter they are filed.

Although many cases settle before trial, it is often only after we have done a significant amount of work. We prepare every case to go to trial. Much of the time, after we’ve done the necessary work preparing for trial, the defendant will be open to settlement negotiations. Each case is a little different and requires a unique strategy.

What kinds of compensation could I recover in a medical malpractice claim?

Plaintiffs are legally entitled to recover money damages for losses, expenses, and injuries they incur as a result of an injury-causing event. These are called “compensatory damages.” Compensatory damages can generally be divided into two categories: economic damages like medical bills and lost wages, and non-economic damages like pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of love and affection.

With few exceptions, plaintiffs in Washington are not entitled to “punitive damages.” Punitive damages, unlike compensatory damages, have nothing to do with compensating the victim. Instead, punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant.

What do I do if I’ve been contacted by an insurance company or health care provider offering to settle my claim?

It has become more common for insurance companies and risk management departments to contact persons who have been injured by medical negligence in an attempt to get you to settle with them directly. The key thing to remember when dealing with a liability insurance or risk management representative is that person does not represent you. On the contrary, their interest is to protect themselves and their money. If you have been injured by medical negligence, it may be preferable not to speak to an insurance company or risk management department before you have spoken with an attorney. Call us first and let us help you determine your rights.

Of particular concern is a situation where you settle your claim for an amount of money then discover later that your injuries were more serious than you thought. Once you agree to release your claims in exchange for money, you usually forever give up the right sue based on that incident.

Can someone other than a doctor commit malpractice?

Yes. Any medical professional who provides healthcare services may be held liable for providing negligent care. This includes not only doctors, but also nurses, physician’s assistants, physical therapists, technicians, dentists, pharmacists, and the hospital where care was rendered, among many others.

FAQs about Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy FAQs

What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a general term that applies to several disorders. A common factor among the disorders is that the cerebral palsy victim is unable to fully coordinate and control the muscles in his or her body. The types of cerebral palsy are categorized according to what part of the victim’s brain is affected. That, in turn, determines the specific symptoms which the person has.

Cerebral palsy can be caused by brain damage that occurs before, during, or not long after birth. In other cases, it may be caused when the victim’s brain failed to form properly before birth.

What are the symptoms of cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is the name given to a group of disorders, so victims of cerebral palsy can have many different symptoms depending upon which particular disorder they have. The one symptom that is common among almost all persons with cerebral palsy is that they have some degree of difficulty controlling their muscles. That difficulty means that most people with cerebral palsy have problems with posture and movement.

Some people with cerebral palsy may have muscles that are unnaturally tight or rigid.  Others may experience muscle spasms or muscles that suffer from being floppy or loose. Cerebral palsy sufferers may exhibit involuntary muscle actions that produce writhing, twitching, and tremors. Some may also have eyesight and hearing deficits. Each cerebral palsy victim’s case is unique such that they may have varying degrees of these symptoms and combinations of such symptoms.

Overall, the muscular problems experienced by cerebral palsy victims often make it difficult for them to walk, handle objects, or carry out other activities.

Will my child’s cerebral palsy get worse over time?

No. Cerebral palsy doesn’t get worse. Still, individuals who have cerebral palsy need proper medical care, therapy, and other support services throughout their lifetime. If not addressed properly, the muscular control and coordination difficulties associated with cerebral palsy can lead to other complications, some of which can be serious.

Also, the cognitive and motor effects of cerebral palsy become more obvious as a baby develops. As infants and toddlers miss normal developmental milestones like sitting up, rolling over, crawling, and talking, parents may become more concerned and wonder if a birth injury caused the neurologic injury.

Can cerebral palsy be spread from one person to another?

No. Cerebral palsy is not a communicable disease.

Can cerebral palsy be cured?

Unfortunately, the brain damage associated with cerebral palsy cannot be reversed. The effects of cerebral palsy are well understood, however, which means that a child with the disorder can receive medical treatment, therapy, education, and other support services, all designed to minimize the disorder’s effects and maximize the child’s abilities. That means every child with cerebral palsy has the potential to enjoy a productive and happy life.

Can cerebral palsy be prevented?

Sometimes. It depends on the precise situation and the way it occurred. The risk of cerebral palsy can be reduced, but not every cause of the disorder is known, which means the disorder cannot always be prevented. Known risks include birth injuries, some types of infections in a baby’s mother (including rubella and toxoplasmosis), severe jaundice, and blood problems such as Rh incompatibility or coagulation disorders. Healthcare providers try to minimize those sorts of risks in order to minimize the chance that a baby will suffer brain damage associated with cerebral palsy.

My Washington child has cerebral palsy – what are the options for treatment?

While cerebral palsy can’t be cured, the disorder’s symptoms can be managed and minimized. Each child diagnosed with cerebral palsy should receive a long-term treatment plan that includes a variety of treatments targeted to the child’s specific needs. Treatment options can include physical and occupational therapy, speech therapy, and medicines such as muscle relaxants and perhaps pain relievers. Surgery can help in some cases, as well. Many children with cerebral palsy also benefit from medical devices such as canes, walkers, body supports, and other aids intended to help them manage the disorder’s symptoms.

Do I have a legal claim for my child’s cerebral palsy? How do I know?

The best way to find out whether you have a legal claim for your child’s cerebral palsy is to discuss your child’s condition with an experienced Washington birth injury attorney. Birth injury cases are complicated, and an experienced birth injury lawyer can evaluate your case and advise you about your legal rights and options.

FAQs about Birth Injuries

Birth Injury FAQs

What is the difference between a birth injury and a birth defect?

A birth defect occurs prior to birth and may be caused by genetic abnormalities, maternal infection, alcohol and drug use during pregnancy, or by an unexplained failure of the fetus to develop properly. A birth injury occurs during the labor and delivery process. Birth injuries are sometimes the result of medical negligence.

What are the causes of birth injuries?

Birth injuries have two primary causes: trauma and hypoxia. Hypoxia refers to deprivation of oxygen to the fetus. Trauma refers to physical wounds to the body resulting from force.

How can I tell whether my child suffered a birth injury?

If you think your child may have suffered a birth injury, ask yourself whether any of the following factors played a role in your child’s birth. These factors don’t always mean that a birth injury occurred, but they raise a warning flag that a birth injury might have happened:

  • You had an extended labor or other delay in delivery.
  • Your baby experienced seizures within hours of delivery.
  • There was an unexpected need for a Caesarean delivery (C-section).
  • Your doctor had to use a vacuum extractor to aid delivery.
  • Your baby had concerning heart rate patterns during labor.
  • Your baby was blue or gray at birth.
  • A previously unrecognized infection was discovered.
  • Your baby spent time in a neonatal unit.

What are common types of birth injuries?

Trauma, nerve damage, and brain damage are common birth injuries. Damage to the brain and nervous system can cause cerebral palsy, which is a group of non-progressive disorders affecting brain and nervous system function, including hearing, learning, seeing, moving, and thinking. Damage to the brachial plexus nerves can cause Erb’s palsy or Klumpke’s palsy, which are characterized by limited feeling and mobility in the shoulder, hand, and arm.

What is the prognosis for a child with birth injuries?

The prognosis for a child injured during birth varies. Some birth injuries, such as cerebral palsy, are not curable, but symptoms can be treated and managed to varying degrees depending upon the child’s level of impairment. Other birth injuries, such as Erb’s palsy, may be treatable with appropriate medical intervention.

How can I determine if medical negligence caused my child’s birth injury?

The child’s pediatrician is often focused on caring for the patient, and may not be comfortable or knowledgeable in discussing whether an injury may have been caused by another health care provider’s negligence. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can assist parents in obtaining and reviewing medical records. Attorneys also consult qualified medical professionals who are not personally involved in the patient’s care, for assistance in determining the likely causes of the birth injury.

My child was born several years ago. Is it too late to make a claim for my child’s birth injuries?

In general, birth injury and other medical malpractice claims in Washington must be brought within three years after the negligent medical error. It’s very important to remember, though, that the deadline for filing suit can vary based on the specific circumstances of the case.. Even if your child was born more than three years ago, you may still have a legal case. Talk with an experienced birth injury attorney as soon as possible.

How can I find out whether I have a legal claim for my child’s birth injury?

The best way to find out whether you have a legal claim for your child’s birth injury is to discuss your child’s condition with an experienced Washington birth injury attorney. Birth injury cases are complicated, and an experienced birth injury lawyer can evaluate your case and advise you about your legal rights and options.

At Kidman Tinker, PLLC we have a record of success representing birth injury victims. To talk to our team about your situation, call us today or fill out our online contact form for a free claim evaluation.