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Why modified joint liability affects your malpractice damages

After enduring years of pain, you finally agreed to knee replacement surgery. Unfortunately, upon waking up from your anesthesia, you find that surgeons did not operate on your knee. They, instead, removed your appendix. Due to a mix up in forms and patient identification, surgeons accidentally performed another patient’s surgery on you.

Many instances of hospital miscommunication and confusion occur throughout the United States, and California’s law of modified joint liability exists to remedy the unfortunate accident as quickly as possible in assigning damages to the guilty parties. You are extremely upset because you not only still need a knee replacement, but the hospital’s negligent action caused you to receive unnecessary surgery. Fortunately, California court will attempt to reward you with significant compensation in both economic and noneconomic damages – all based on the actions of each party.

Proving medical malpractice

In medical malpractice cases, you and your experienced attorney must prove to the court that:

  1. Your doctors, nurses and surgeons owed a duty of care to you by providing a knee replacement.
  2. Your medical staff violated this duty of care by negligently assigning a different surgery to you.
  3. You received an injury, which consisted of the removal or your appendix and the lack of a knee replacement.
  4. You suffered harm due to these actions.

After the court finds the medical staff guilty, a judge will begin to assign compensation amounts that these staff members owe to you. The court will quantify your economic damages including your medical bills, the cost of a non-existent knee surgery and your potential loss of work.

Modified joint liability and percentage of fault

Then, the court will begin to quantify noneconomic damages using modified joint liability. Noneconomic damages include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Inconvenience
  • Mental and emotional distress
  • Reputation injury
  • Humiliation

Modified joint liability involves using several liability in determining which parties pay for your noneconomic damages. Several liability allows a court to look at each individual who may have contributed to the negligent act. A court will assign a percentage of the damages that individual parties must pay due to their specific action or inaction. The court may ask:

  • Did the nurses review your paper work?
  • Did a physician’s assistant ensure that you were correctly prepped for the right surgery?
  • Did the surgeon confirm the surgical procedure?
  • Who is responsible for swapping the patient documents?

You deserve significant compensation for the negligence of medical staff. Using an attorney and California’s modified joint liability rule, you can receive a maximum amount reimbursement for both your economic and noneconomic damages.

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