What is misdiagnosis in Kentucky? Misdiagnosis occurs when a healthcare provider, typically a doctor, fails to diagnose a dangerous condition or mistakes one medical condition for another. Misdiagnosis, if serious enough, can be a form of medical negligence. It can also provide the basis for a wrongful death lawsuit.
The Average Settlement for Misdiagnosis in Kentucky
There is no meaningful average settlement for misdiagnosis in Kentucky. Mistaking skin cancer for a minor irritation can kill a patient. On the other hand, diagnosing a patient with a mild case of the flu with Covid-19 might do little or no physical harm to the patient. Since damages vary so widely, there is no meaningful average settlement for misdiagnosis. If you want to know how much your claim is worth, your lawyer will have to examine your case to provide a ballpark estimate. Even then, there can be no guarantee of how much you will actually walk away with.
Nevertheless, in cases of serious harm, defendants sometimes agree to settlements of six, seven, and sometimes even eight figures in cases of serious harm.
The Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations sets a time limit by which you must either file a lawsuit, secure the defendant’s signature on a settlement agreement, or drop your claim. If you miss the deadline, the value of your claim will likely fall to zero immediately. Kentucky’s statute of limitations for medical malpractice, one of the shortest in the nation, can expire as soon as one year after a misdiagnosis occurs (exceptions do exist, however).
Available Damages for Misdiagnosis
There is no way to calculate your damages without knowing the facts of your case and performing an investigation. Nevertheless, the basic principle is that the patient should recover an amount equal to the damage caused by the misdiagnosis.
How much better off would the patient be today if the doctor had correctly diagnosed the patient’s condition in a timely manner? The answer to that question—because it directly addresses how much harm a patient suffered—helps to define the value of the plaintiff’s medical malpractice claim.
Most medical malpractice settlements are based on just a few categories of damages, including:
- Medical expenses resulting from the misdiagnosis;
- Estimated future medical expenses;
- Medical devices, such as a wheelchair;
- Modifications to your home (you might need to build an elevator if you can no longer climb stairs, for example);
- Out-of-pocket expenses, such as child care;
- Lost earnings from the time you took off work;
- Occupational disability if you’re unable to return to your previous work;
- Pain and suffering;
- Mental anguish; and
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
Juries often award intangible damages such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, etc., in amounts that might equal three to five times the amount of medical bills. Unlike many states, Kentucky imposes no upper limits on how much money a court can award in a medical malpractice claim.
Misdiagnosis Resulting in Death
Death is a common result of misdiagnosis because a doctor might miss a deadly condition until it is too late. What happens if the patient suffers from a fatal but curable condition, and the doctor failed to diagnose the condition in time to save the patient’s life? Even if the patient sues, they might die during litigation. The solution is to file a wrongful death claim under Kentucky’s wrongful death statute.
- The personal representative of the deceased victim’s probate estate must file a wrongful death lawsuit. The personal representative is typically a close relative, either named in the victim’s will or appointed by the probate court. If the victim was under 18, both parents can join the lawsuit along with the personal representative.
- The misdiagnosis must have caused the victim’s death. Suppose, for example, that the doctor failed to diagnose a patient’s incurable illness. Since even a timely and accurate diagnosis would not have saved the patient’s life, the doctor’s misdiagnosis did not cause the victim’s death.
- Damages go to close relatives and to the victim’s probate estate, according to precise legal rules.
- Potential damages include funeral expenses; loss of society, companionship, and conjugal relations; and the victim’s lost earnings, medical bills, and pain and suffering.
As in a personal injury lawsuit, punitive damages are available under rare circumstances.
Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress
Suppose that your doctor misdiagnoses your benign tumor for a malignant tumor. They tell you that you have cancer and that you have about three months to live. A couple of days later, your doctor calls you and tells you they made an error and that your tumor is actually non-cancerous and easy to treat. Strictly speaking, your doctor did not cause you any physical harm through misdiagnosis. Your doctor did, however, probably scare you half to death.
Kentucky, like some other states, has a cause of action often referred to as negligent infliction of emotional distress. This cause of action arises when someone causes you severe emotional stress due to negligent words or behavior. To press this claim, you don’t have to suffer physical injury (such as a heart attack). This would not be a medical malpractice claim, but it might still qualify you for significant compensation.
If We Don’t Win, You Don’t Pay
Don’t worry if your pocketbook is empty—the quality of your claim matters to us, not the size of your bank account. We don’t believe our clients should pay legal fees for nothing. Furthermore, we win most of the cases we take on. For this reason, we guarantee you that you won’t owe us a dime for our services unless we win your claim.
We’re Ready for Action
If you have a medical malpractice claim based on personal injury or wrongful death, you need to get started quickly. Kentucky medical malpractice claims can be scientifically complex and time-consuming to prepare. Contact the attorney at Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC so that we can schedule a free consultation. If for some reason you are not able to visit us in our office, we will come to meet you.