Seattle Medical Malpractice Attorney | Certa Law Group
We’re a plaintiff’s law firm committed to helping people harmed by medical malpractice.
Certa Law Group is a Seattle-based law firm whose attorneys are trusted members of the Washington legal community. Our value to clients is our deep knowledge in managing cases involving physical and emotional injury from the wrongdoing of others. This extends to injuries from the hands of doctors and other medical professionals.
We believe the pursuit of medical malpractice claims serves an important role in our society. These cases can give harmed patients and their families a sense of closure in the form of compensation and an acknowledgment of wrongdoing. Furthermore, these cases offer an opportunity for health care providers to learn from their mistakes and deters the use of harmful medical practices in the future.
Doctors Make Mistakes Too – Often at Their Patient’s Expense
The idea of medical malpractice can be difficult to comprehend. Doctors and health care providers are the experts we trust to help us – sometimes in cases of emergency. Our clients are surprised when the care they receive doesn’t always improve their situation.
The reality is doctors and others that work at health care facilities are all people, and they do make mistakes while on the job. Unfortunately, these mistakes often come with high costs and other tragic consequences for their patients. The mistakes of doctors and hospitals can cause unnecessary delays in recovery, new injuries, and other emotional sufferings. Sometimes these injuries are permanent and life-threatening.
Medical malpractice occurs all over the country. In many cases, medical malpractice is most prevalent in locations with large populations and major medical institutions – like Seattle and its surrounding suburbs. According to data from Washington’s 2020 Medical Malpractice Annual Report, the King County region (which encompasses Seattle) had the most reported medical malpractice claims and paid the most indemnity to claimants. The number of claims and indemnity value in the King County region more than doubled that of the next highest region.
(See the first table in the section titled “County Statistics” on the top of page 47.)
Of course, these numbers only reflect the reported claims of medical malpractice in various Washington locations. The possibility exists that even more cases of medical malpractice go unreported.
What Are Some of the Causes of Medical Malpractice?
We realize most people equate medical malpractice with surgery and that is certainly a high-risk field for malpractice. However, we see malpractice in many different phases of medical care with a wide range of outcomes.
All medical professionals have a duty to treat their patients with reasonable care. The failure to meet this standard is known as medical malpractice. The law determines if medical care was unreasonable by comparing the care provided to what a reasonable doctor would do in a similar situation. Some of the common ways that medical professionals fail to act reasonably include:
- Delayed or missed diagnosis: Sometimes a doctor will misdiagnose their patient’s condition and end up treating the patient for the wrong condition. Other times, the doctor fails to diagnose any condition and the patient goes untreated. On occasion, doctors are simply late in making the right diagnosis. A late diagnosis can make a treatable condition worse or limit future options for care.
Missed and delayed diagnoses occur for different reasons – mostly because not all doctors have the same set of skills and expertise. When examining patients, doctors might not be able to make the right diagnosis because they lack knowledge and fail to take the proper next steps (e.g., recommending a consult with a specialist or ordering certain tests).
In some cases, a doctor might order the right tests to diagnose the patient but fail to correctly interpret the findings of those tests to make the right diagnosis. Many cases of medical malpractice are a result of misread MRIs, CT scans, x-rays, blood tests, and other lab results. A possibility also exists that a doctor might rely on outdated or defective equipment and testing, which can lead to a missed diagnosis.
- Surgical mistakes: Many factors can lead to surgery errors that harm patients. Sometimes these errors are a direct result of a surgeon working on the patient’s body (e.g., accidental cutting of an organ or a blood vessel). Surgical mistakes can also happen indirectly from a lack of proper preparation (e.g., operating on the wrong person or body part, failing to consider a patient’s history when operating, or failing to perform the right tests before surgery).
Other elements of surgery can increase the risk for errors resulting in medical malpractice. Operating centers can be busy places due to high demand. This can lead to overworked surgeons and understaffed operating rooms. Sometimes operating rooms lack the right equipment to safely perform certain surgeries. All these factors can cause a patient harm.
(See the first table in the section titled “Location in the Facility” on the top of page 37).
- Improper treatment: Doctors do not always provide patients with the best form of treatment for their condition. Mistakes can happen when doctors prescribe the wrong amount of medication or prescribe the wrong medication altogether. In other cases, a doctor may recommend and perform a certain medical procedure to address a condition when a safer alternative existed.
- A lack of informed consent: In most cases, patients choose the type of treatment they receive based on the advice and options their doctor provides. Unfortunately, not all patients are properly informed of the risks and potential outcomes for various treatments when making these life-altering choices. Sometimes doctors are to blame for failing to properly advise patients about their treatment options. Patients and their families are then shocked when certain treatments cause serious injury or death.
In many cases of malpractice, the patient is a victim of a combination of the problems listed above. For example, a delayed or missed diagnosis often causes mistakes in surgery or leads to the wrong recommended treatment.
Medical Malpractice FAQs
Here are some answers to common questions regarding medical malpractice cases in Washington to review before scheduling a consultation with our office.
How Do I Know if I Have a Case for Medical Malpractice?
Spotting medical malpractice can be difficult because of a lack of medical education. However, most cases of malpractice will contain warning signs. For example, new injuries might appear immediately after medical procedures. A sudden change in diagnosis or a new diagnosis despite frequent medical attention could also be evidence of malpractice. Because medical malpractice is tough to judge, we rely on the opinions of trusted medical experts to tell us if malpractice occurred.
What Are the Four Ds of Medical Negligence?
The four Ds of medical negligence refer to the four items that must be present in a case to have a successful medical malpractice claim. They include:
- Duty of care: The doctor charged with medical malpractice must have had a duty of care to the injured patient. All doctors have a duty of care to their patients.
- Dereliction of duty of care: The doctor must have strayed or failed to follow that duty of care by not acting as a reasonable doctor would in the same circumstances.
- Direct causation: The doctor’s dereliction of duty must cause the injury to the patient.
- Damages: The doctor’s dereliction of duty must cause some sort of injury for which there are damages.
If any one of the four Ds is missing in a case, then no medical malpractice occurred.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice in Washington State?
In Washington, laws limit the amount of time a person must file a claim for medical malpractice. These laws exist mostly to ensure the evidence related to the claim is available (e.g., medical records, the testimony of witnesses, etc.).
Victims of medical malpractice must generally file their claim within the later of three years from the date of the action that caused injury or one year from the date the victim should have reasonably known about the injury. In most cases, injuries are discoverable soon after the date of the action causing them. However, the law reflects the possibility that some medical malpractice injuries might not be evident until many years later.
Exceptions also exist that extend the time limit in cases of fraud, intentional concealment, or the presence of a foreign body in the victim that doesn’t have a therapeutic or diagnostic purpose (e.g., a sponge left in the patient after surgery).
About Certa Law Group
Our mission with each medical malpractice case is to educate the client about their rights, understand their goals, explore the available options, and develop a strategy to produce an effective outcome. Through our years of experience, we understand each client’s case will present unique challenges that we address with as much care and compassion as possible.
Our Process for Medical Malpractice Claims
Every case begins with a free consultation from one of our experienced attorneys to learn more about your case. If we can represent you, our next step is to perform a thorough review of your case. This includes gathering medical records, determining all your recoverable damages, and completing other fact-finding.
The information-gathering phase can be long but is essential in analyzing your case and determining who was at fault. We will likely need to obtain an expert opinion to confirm malpractice took place. While considering your goals, we then attempt to negotiate a settlement with the at-fault party or, if necessary, pursue recovery through the court system. We may be able to reach a favorable outcome outside of court. However, our attorneys pride themselves on their ability to navigate all phases of litigation, including trial.
What Damages Are Available in Medical Malpractice Cases?
Justice for claims of medical malpractice mostly comes in the form of monetary compensation. This compensation usually represents reimbursement for several different aspects of a case:
- Any medical expenses incurred to treat injuries (e.g., costs for medical exams, surgeries, medications, therapy, etc.).
- Compensation for any pain and suffering. Injuries from medical malpractice can be traumatic and negatively affect the victim’s mental and emotional state.
- Money to cover any past and future loss of income because your injury prevents you from working. This can be a substantial amount in cases of malpractice that cause permanent injury.
We recommend documenting all expenses related to your injury. This means keeping receipts, invoices, and other records.
Schedule a Consultation with Certa Law Group Today
Our office is quick to respond to inquiries from potential clients and requests to schedule a free consultation. We have offices in Seattle and Edmonds to meet for a consultation but can also conduct consultations over the phone.
To get started, please complete our intake form with your name, email, telephone number, and information about your case. This information might include the nature of your injury and important facts surrounding its cause. If you have any additional questions about Certa Law Group or the services we offer, please do not hesitate to ask.