Determining Who is to Blame in Oklahoma Medical Malpractice Cases

The relationship between a patient and a physician has a unique power to shape a person's life. A patient must rely on a doctor's knowledge, skills, and experience to accurately assess, diagnose and treat his or her medical condition. This means that patients place a tremendous amount of trust in their physician. When something goes wrong, patients are often confused about what happened. The sense of betrayal can be overwhelming. Was the doctor to blame? The hospital? Or was it no one's fault?

When something terrible has happened, determining whether anyone is legally fat fault is not easy. There are many different people who can be responsible for a person's injuries, from doctors and nurses to hospitals and surgery centers. Almost every person or organization in the person's chain of care could be liable, including specialists, optometrists, physical therapists, chiropractors, dietitians, dentists, hospitals, clinics, group practices or physicians' professional corporations which employ the medical personnel. When a person believes they may have been injured because of medical negligence, it is essential that they consult with an experienced Oklahoma medical malpractice lawyer to begin sorting out the complex legal picture that resulted in the injury.

There are many different factors that determine whether a person is eligible for compensation. A person must be able to show negligence by an Oklahoma health care provider. To do that, a person needs an experienced lawyer, medical experts, records establishing the extent of the injuries, and more. Although some cases schedule out of court, a medical malpractice case always requires extensive documentation and finding out exactly what happened and why is rarely clear-cut.

A common question is what happens in circumstances where the patient is partially to blame. If a patient has been negligent, they can still recover money for medical malpractice claims in Oklahoma. In Oklahoma, liability is determined by a doctrine called modified comparative negligence. The state follows a rule that says a patient can only recover damages if their contribution to their own injury is 50% or less than the defendants' contribution to the injury.

To understand what this means in practice consider a scenario where a physician prescribes a drug that makes the patient very ill. Before giving the patient the drug, the doctor asked if the patient had any allergies or questions about ingredients in the medication. If the patient knew she had allergies but failed to disclose their allergic reactions to some ingredients, she may still be able to recover damages from the physician. If the judge or jury decides that the physician should not have prescribed the medication because of the allergy, but also assigned the patient 50% of the blame, then the patient can still receive money damages. The patient accepts half the blame for not telling the doctor about the allergy, but the doctor has 50% of the blame for improperly prescribing it. Since they share equally in an apportionment of the blame, the patient can recover some portion of the damages because she was not found more than 50% at fault than the doctor.

The hypothetical patient who has 50% of the blame would then be entitled to 50% of the damages awarded by a jury. So if a jury awarded her $100,000, her recovery would be cut in half due to the modified comparative fault doctrine.

Contact an Oklahoma Medical Malpractice Lawyer for a Consultation

Even if you aren't sure whether you have a medical malpractice case, you should immediately contact an Oklahoma lawyer if you believe you have been the victim of medical negligence. By calling 405-542-2529 (542-CLAW), one of our Oklahoma Medical Malpractice Lawyers will speak with about your claims. Read more about our team, or continue reading and researching our free legal information library, or enter live chat.


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