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3 Key Concepts Your New Orleans Medical Malpractice Attorney Wants You To Know


Facing a medical malpractice case can be overwhelming, but familiarity with legal principles can help boost your confidence. At Spencer Calahan, we believe in empowering our clients with knowledge and understanding. Review these four key concepts that every individual seeking a New Orleans medical malpractice attorney should know. These essential aspects of medical malpractice law can help you start your journey toward justice. 

Defining Medical Malpractice in Louisiana

To establish a medical malpractice claim in Louisiana, four key legal elements must be present:

  • Professional Duty: Prove the physician’s obligation to provide care according to accepted norms.
  • Breach of Duty: Show the deviation from the expected standard of care.
  • Injury Caused by Breach: Establish the direct link between breach and injury.
  • Resulting Damages: Include economic and noneconomic losses.

Medical malpractice can manifest in various forms, such as failure to diagnose, surgical errors, improper medication, or inadequate follow-up care. Understanding the medical malpractice laws in Louisiana is crucial, as they play a central role in determining the outcome of such cases. Medical malpractice laws in the United States vary by individual state. 

In most instances, medical malpractice claims are settled outside of court. Healthcare providers typically carry malpractice insurance. Their insurance carriers may propose settlements as lump sums or structured payments. If the injured patient accepts the compensation, they relinquish the right to pursue further legal action.

There is another essential element for Louisiana malpractice cases. In cases where the physician’s negligence and the patient’s actions contributed to the injuries and losses, the concept of “shared fault” comes into play. Louisiana and 11 other states follow the “pure comparative negligence” rule. Under this rule, the jury determines the percentage of fault attributed to the patient, which proportionally reduces their reward based on their degree of fault.

Seeking advice from a New Orleans medical malpractice attorney is a wise choice, as they can help skillfully negotiate for the best possible settlement and guide clients through the intricate legal process. At Spencer Calahan, we are committed to offering comprehensive legal support and compassionate guidance to those facing the challenges of medical malpractice cases.

Defining the Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations is the legal time limit for a person to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. In Louisiana, as per Louisiana Revised Statutes section 9:5628, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is one year from the date of the healthcare provider’s negligent action or failure to act. If the malpractice is not immediately apparent, the patient has one year from discovering the error to file the claim.

Louisiana also has a “statute of repose” that sets an absolute deadline for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit three years from the date of the alleged malpractice, regardless of when it was discovered. This applies to both adults and minors seeking compensation for medical malpractice.

It is essential to be aware of these timeframes. Failing to file a lawsuit within the prescribed limits may result in the dismissal of the case and the loss of the opportunity to pursue compensation for injuries. Therefore, counsel from a New Orleans medical malpractice attorney promptly can often be crucial for individuals with potential claims. 

The Medical Review Panel Process in Louisiana

In Louisiana, pursuing a medical malpractice claim involves a thorough and time-consuming medical review process, an essential step before proceeding with a lawsuit. This process is carefully designed to ensure that only cases with substantial evidence move forward and are supported by expert medical opinions. While the panel is conducted, the timeline for the statute of limitations is temporarily paused. 

Before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Louisiana, plaintiffs must obtain a positive medical expert review, certifying the case has merit. A direct connection between the alleged negligence and the injuries must be found.

As part of the process, plaintiffs must pay a filing fee of $100 for each defendant within 45 days of the review request. However, this fee can be waived in certain circumstances. If the panel fails to issue an opinion within one year after its formation, the plaintiff may proceed with filing a lawsuit unless the court grants an extension.

Louisiana’s stringent medical review panel process aims to filter out weaker cases to avoid overwhelming the court system with frivolous claims. Unfortunately, it can also lead to substantial delays, potentially extending for over a year. 

Understanding the Money Cap on Medical Malpractice Damages in Louisiana

Once negligence leading to injury is established in a medical malpractice case, the court calculates the compensation to be awarded to the injured party. Damages in such cases cover economic losses, like lost income, future and past medical expenses, and noneconomic losses, including pain and suffering.

Louisiana law enforces a “cap” that limits the amount of money a successful plaintiff can receive in medical malpractice cases. According to Louisiana Revised Statutes section 40:1231.2, medical malpractice damages are capped at $500,000. The cap does not include future medical care costs. 

This means that regardless of the severity of the case or the extent of the economic and noneconomic losses suffered, the maximum compensation a plaintiff can receive is limited to $500,000, with future medical expenses being an exception to this cap. Any amount awarded beyond $100,000 is paid through the Louisiana Patient’s Compensation Fund. This fund is insurance coverage for all state healthcare providers. 

Consulting with an experienced medical malpractice attorney is essential to grasp the intricacies of the law and navigate the legal process effectively in pursuit of fair compensation for your injuries. A New Orleans medical malpractice attorney can offer valuable guidance to pursue a medical malpractice claim within Louisiana’s unique money cap regulations.

Seeking a New Orleans Medical Malpractice Attorney? Contact Us. 

Spencer Calahan is here to help you understand the intricacies of medical malpractice law in Louisiana. If you or a loved one have been affected by medical negligence, please contact a New Orleans medical malpractice attorney at Spencer Calahan. Get in touch with us today to begin your journey toward justice by calling (225) 387-2323 or sending us a message online.