A cancer diagnosis is likely to be devastating news for you and your family. Realizing that your doctor may have missed the signs of the malignancy and cost you valuable time in starting treatment could make the situation even worse. In these circumstances, you may want to seek out an Albany cancer malpractice lawyer for help.

Advances in medicine have made many types of cancers more treatable and have given patients a far better outlook. Delays in treatment, however, could result in the need for more invasive and extended courses of treatment. A skilled medical malpractice attorney may be able to assist you to seek compensation from the responsible party.

What Could be Considered Cancer Malpractice?

Misdiagnoses could significantly delay cancer treatment which could cause negative outcomes. An injured individual may be able to file a claim if their physicians or other healthcare professionals could be considered negligent if they:

  • Fail to adequately screen patients for illness
  • Dismiss the patient symptoms
  • Administering the wrong treatment
  • Inadequate testing
  • Failure to give preventative
  • Misread test results

When cancer malpractice occurs, more invasive treatment may become necessary. The patient prognosis may become less positive and in some extreme cases, their cancer may become untreatable altogether. Cancer malpractice may commonly occur with respect to breast cancer, colon cancer, skin cancer, ovarian cancer, throat cancer, and cervical cancer, among others.

Negligence in Cancer Treatment

Medical malpractice claims arise due to the negligence of the doctors or other health care professionals. Negligence is based on the premise that individuals should act, based on the circumstances, in a way that is in accordance with reasonably acceptable standards of behavior for medical professionals.

How Can a Doctor be Proven Negligent?

When the actions of a physician fall below the level of care that is generally accepted in the medical community, the doctor is considered to have breached the duty of care. To prove the breach occurred, medical experts could testify under oath that they would have acted differently under the same circumstances. With this testimony, the plaintiff’s attorney may be able to establish a breach of the duty of care.

A dedicated cancer malpractice attorney in Albany could offer assistance to individuals if they are unsure if their physician failed to diagnose their condition or acted negligently.

Deadlines for Filing Cancer Malpractice Claims

Each state has established different deadlines for filing medical malpractice and personal injury claims. These deadlines are generally referred to as statutes of limitations. Pursuant to New York Consolidated Laws § 214-A, injured individuals have two years and six months from the date of their injuries.

Failure to bring claims within this timeframe could prevent the injured individual to recoup compensation. However, there are some exceptions to this general rule when the malpractice claim is based upon the failure to diagnose cancer or a malignant tumor. In this case, patients may bring suit within two years and six months of the later of the following:

  • The date in which patients knew or reasonably should have known of the alleged negligence and injuries
  • The date of the last treatment during a course of continuous treatment for a medical condition

In this situation, patients may not bring a cancer malpractice suit any more than seven years following the alleged negligent action or inaction of the doctor. A dedicated Albany cancer malpractice lawyer could help a patient file a claim within the statute of limitations.

Understanding the Certificate of Merit

In addition to the standard requirements of a negligence case, there are unique requirements that apply to medical malpractice lawsuits. The most significant requirement is known as the certificate of merit.

The certificate of merit is a legal document similar to an affidavit, and is created by the plaintiff’s attorney while preparing a cancer malpractice lawsuit. The attorney must file the certificate alongside the lawsuit itself.

The certificate of merit establishes that the plaintiff’s attorney consulted with a medical expert before filing the lawsuit. The medical expert—which must be a doctor—reviews the records and then confirms that the plaintiff has a viable claim of malpractice. The expert must have experience in the relevant field of medicine similar to that of the defendant.

Including the certificate with the cancer malpractice lawsuit is mandatory and the failure to do so could cause the court to dismiss the case. There is an exception that allows the court to give plaintiff’s counsel additional time to file their certificate. If the statute of limitations is looming, the court has the power to grant the plaintiff an additional 90 days from the filing of the lawsuit to include the certificate of merit. This additional time is granted to prevent a plaintiff from watching the statute of limitations expire while waiting on a review form a medical expert.

Compensation for Cancer Malpractice Claims in Albany

The failure to adequately diagnose or treat cancer could have a catastrophic impact on the life of a patient, and they could be entitled to financial compensation for the negligent care that they received. This compensation comes in different forms and the amount of the recovery will depend on the specifics of each case.

Compensatory Damages

As the name suggests, compensatory damages are intended to compensate a person for the harm they suffered from cancer malpractice. These awards can be significant given the harsh outcomes common with cancer misdiagnosis. There are also two subsets of compensatory damages: actual and general damages.

Actual damages are also referred to as economic damages. These losses are measurable and they exist to make the plaintiff whole again. Some common examples of actual damages include lost wages or medical bills.

General damages are not so easy to evaluate. These claims are subjective, and exist to provide compensation for hard-to-measure losses like pain and suffering or mental anguish.

Punitive Damages

Not all damages are designed to compensate someone for the hardships they have suffered. In some cases, the courts find it necessary to award damages based entirely on the desire to punish those responsible for malpractice. These are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended to be a deterrent. They are award not in an effort to make the plaintiff whole but to hold the medical care provider accountable for their negligence.

Punitive damages are not an option in every malpractice case. Instead, they are only awarded in those egregious cases where it is necessary to punish the defendant in order to deter them from similar actions in the future. Cancer malpractice could potentially fall into this category.

Consult an Albany Cancer Malpractice Attorney

Being diagnosed with cancer could cause you and your family emotional and financial stress. The knowledge that your physician missed the signs and symptoms of your medical condition could make a bad situation even worse.

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries due to the bad judgment of a physician, you may need to consult an Albany cancer malpractice lawyer for advice. A cancer malpractice claim may allow you to hold medical professionals responsible for causing your injuries. Hold doctors accountable for their negligent actions by seeking legal assistance today.