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Originally Posted On: Your Guide to Hawaii Medical Malpractice Laws – Cummings Law, PL (cummingslawhawaii.com)
Medical malpractice must be on doctors’ minds. More than 22,000 Americans die every year from doctors’ mistakes. Hundreds of thousands of others get injured or sickened from mistakes.
A personal injury can be overwhelming. But you shouldn’t panic. Hawaii medical malpractice laws are here to help you, once you know what they are.
How does the state of Hawaii define medical malpractice? What do you have to do in order to file a lawsuit? What do the laws mean for preparing your legal case?
Answer these questions and you can create a speedy and successful medical malpractice lawsuit. Here is your quick guide.
Definition of Medical Malpractice
Hawaii Revised Statutes Chapter 671 provides several important definitions for medical malpractice. Section 1 defines “health care provider” and “medical tort.”
A health care provider includes a physician, surgeon, or physician assistant. It also includes a health care facility and any employee that works for one.
Medical tort refers to negligence, non-consensual services, and errors in professional practice. There is no separate definition for “medical malpractice,” but the terms are interchangeable. An error can include the misdiagnosis of a medical condition.
The state of Hawaii describes informed consent in section 3. Medical professionals should give their patients accurate descriptions of their medical conditions and treatments.
They should detail the potential risks and complications of treatments. If someone gets injured because of an inaccurate description, they can file a lawsuit.
Review by a Medical Inquiry and Conciliation Panel
Hawaii Revised Statutes section 671-12 requires a plaintiff to submit to a panel review. The state of Hawaii has a medical inquiry and conciliation panel that investigates medical malpractice.
They must submit a statement detailing their claim and who was involved. The panel will then contact the other parties. Within twenty days, the health care provider must respond and request a hearing.
The hearing occurs independently of the court. But it is similar to a court hearing, in that the panel will consider the evidence and review essential documents. They can then issue a decision on whether the case should proceed to court.
Certificate of Consultation
Section 671-12.5 makes a further requirement for the plaintiff. They must consult with a licensed physician.
When they file their complaint with the inquiry panel, they must include a certificate. The physician must sign it and declare that they have found cause for the malpractice claim.
There are a few exceptions. A plaintiff can avoid submitting a certificate if the statute of limitations is pressing. They can also avoid it if the physician they tried to contact refused to speak to them.
The physician will remain anonymous to the defendant, so there is no fear of reprisal. If a plaintiff fails to provide a certificate without a good reason, the medical panel will reject their inquiry.
Statute of Limitations
Section 657-7.3 defines the statute of limitations for medical malpractice suits. No action can be brought against a medical professional more than two years after the victim discovers their injury.
The event that caused the injury must have occurred within six years of the lawsuit being filed. This deadline can get extended if the medical professional failed to disclose information about the injury.
Minors can receive an extended statute. If they were younger than ten, they have six years or until their tenth birthday. Whichever is longer applies to them.
Their deadline can get extended if their parent or insurer committed fraud. They can also receive an extended deadline if their injury was not discovered in time.
Cap on Damages
Section 663-8.7 limits the amount of money that a plaintiff can receive for pain and suffering to 375,000 dollars. Pain and suffering refer to the emotional toll of medical malpractice.
The plaintiff may suffer from distress and sadness from their injuries. A jury can award them with money to compensate for their negative emotions.
But the cap does not apply to economic losses. If the plaintiff lost job opportunities or had to pay money for treatments, they can receive more money.
How to Follow Hawaii Medical Malpractice Laws
Medical malpractice laws create a strong foundation for a case. The broad definition of health care provider means you can file a lawsuit against nearly any medical professional.
Review by the medical inquiry panel seems daunting. Yet it gives you time to gather evidence and prepare your strategy for trial.
You should hire a medical malpractice lawyer. But you should understand some things before hiring one. You should gather the facts about what happened and you should understand how the other side is preparing.
You should also talk to a doctor. The law requires you to have a signed certificate. But getting a medical evaluation from them can build your case.
Remember the statute of limitations. File your lawsuit very soon and don’t spend too much time on other endeavors. You can do more research on your case after your filing.
If the panel approves your claim, you can move to trial. The cap on pain and suffering means you should focus on your case on financial losses. Get exact dollar amounts for lost work and excess medical expenses.
Find a Honolulu Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today
Hawaii medical malpractice laws are carefully tailored. Medical tort cases can involve a range of health care providers and doctors’ mistakes.
But plaintiffs must submit to review from a medical inquiry panel. They must submit a certificate from a doctor affirming their case.
Nearly all cases must be brought within six years after the injury. Pain and suffering damages are capped at 375,000 dollars.
But the laws are helpful. They encourage you to create a strong and informative case.
Strengthen your case with a lawyer’s guidance. Cummings Law, PL serves the Honolulu area. Contact us today.