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What should Oklahomans know about medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice is not something most Oklahomans associate with personal injury. In reality, a medical error can result in a catastrophic injury and leave a patient with physical and emotional distress and financial problems because of the expense of treatment. Victims and their families can pursue a legal remedy by filing a medical malpractice claim to seek some measure of justice and to assert their need for compensation to cover medical expenses and related damages.

In Oklahoma, victims need to file medical malpractice lawsuits within two years of their discovery of the medical error. Cases filed after this period are usually declared invalid. This statute of limitation, however, only holds for adults who are victims of medical mistakes. For children 12 or younger, the period is longer – seven years after the injury is discovered. For children older than 12, the period becomes more complicated. They have until age 19 to file a claim themselves or have one filed on their behalf by their parents or a legal professional. In all cases for those older than 12, they have a minimum of two years to file.

Oklahoma also has laws in terms of damages victims can receive. If the evidence shows that there was indeed negligence and malice on the part of the hospital or medical practitioner, then victims can be awarded punitive damages up to $500,000. If a court finds a defendant acted in reckless disregard, the amount is capped at $100,000. If a court deems that a defendant overwhelmingly acted with malice, reckless abandon and the intent to harm another person, then the court can award any amount it sees fit. Economic damages are not subject to limits.

Oklahomans who suspect that medical errors led to a personal injury should consult an experienced legal professional before filing a lawsuit.

Source: Ncsl.org, “Medical Liability/Medical Malpractice Laws,” accessed on Jan. 14, 2015

 

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