New Laws Change Oklahoma Medical Malpractice Cases: Law Summary
Effective November 1, 2009, several new laws went into effect in Oklahoma that changed the way medical malpractice cases must be prosecuted. Only experienced and qualified legal minds will successfully apply these new laws to their cases and increase their chances of obtaining a favorable verdict for their clients. The attorneys at Maples, Nix & Diesselhorst Attorneys At Law are pleased to be at the forefront of medical law in Oklahoma, and can help guide you and your family through this complex field. Below is a brief summary of current Oklahoma laws applicable to medical malpractice cases, including the statute of limitations and regulations on recovering damages.
Please call Maples, Nix & Diesselhorst at 800-539-0652. Our attorneys serve Oklahoma City, Tulsa and beyond. To learn more about medical malpractice law and the strict statute of limitations, you may also email us using our contact form on this website.
Statute Of Limitations
Under Oklahoma law, medical malpractice cases are subject to the statute of limitations. This means that legal action must be brought within two years from the date upon which the claimant knew or should have known of the alleged injury. Wrongful death actions must also be brought within two years from the date of death.
Medical malpractice claimants must prove a breach of the standard of care through expert medical testimony, unless the alleged negligence is grossly apparent to a layman. A plaintiff also has the burden to prove causation (that the breach caused injury or death) and damages through expert witness testimony. As of November 1, 2009, a medical malpractice plaintiff must include an affidavit with the petition that he or she has a written report from a qualified medical expert who has reviewed the evidence and concludes that the named medical defendant(s) were negligent. The defendants are entitled to a copy of the plaintiff’s medical expert’s report upon written request.
Liability Of Multiple Defendants
Effective November 1, 2009, Oklahoma no longer follows joint and several liability in medical cases. This is a very significant change that strongly favors wrongdoers. Often in medical cases, multiple separate physicians and/or hospitals are potentially jointly at fault. Under new law, a defendant is only responsible for his proportionate share of damages based on his percentage of fault. A civil plaintiff’s damages can also be reduced by his or her percentage of fault under what is called contributory negligence.
For more information about medical malpractice law, call Maples, Nix & Diesselhorst at 800-539-0652. We serve all Oklahoma areas.
Limitation On Damages
Effective November 1, 2009, a new law went into effect capping noneconomic damages in all medical cases in Oklahoma at $350,000, with certain exceptions for bad conduct and/or permanent and disabling injuries. However, this horrible law will not go into effect until the state sets up and funds a Health Care Indemnity Fund to pay for damages above the cap.
Liability Insurance Coverage
Most Oklahoma physicians carry a $1 million insurance policy. It is extremely rare for a physician’s personal assets to be at risk in a medical case. Ninety-nine percent of cases are resolved for amounts within the physician’s insurance limits. In fact, a physician’s insurance company selects the doctor’s attorneys, funds the defense of the case, and normally dictates whether to settle or go to trial. Most medical cases that go to trial in Oklahoma (more than 75 percent) end in a defense verdict in favor of the health care provider. However, this fact exists because cases in which liability is clear and/or damages are very high normally settle before trial.
Contact Maples, Nix & Diesselhorst
The lawyers at Maples, Nix & Diesselhorst aggressively represent the victims of medical malpractice in Oklahoma. We have the experience, knowledge and compassion needed to effectively prosecute these complex cases. Maples, Nix & Diesselhorst also has a reputation in the Oklahoma legal community as one of the top medical malpractice law firms in the state. Our attorneys serve Oklahoma City, Tulsa and all surrounding areas.
If you or someone you know has suffered severe injury or wrongful death as a result of medical error, surgical error, hospital mistake or any other type of medical malpractice, contact the dedicated attorneys at Maples, Nix & Diesselhorst today. You may reach us at 800-539-0652 or via email by completing our contact form.