FREE CONSULTATION

206-842-1000

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.