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A Guide to Iowa Medical Malpractice Laws

On Behalf of | Aug 17, 2020 | Medical Malpractice |

At Galligan Law, we tackle a high volume of Iowa medical malpractice cases. These cases are complicated, varied, and important. Medical malpractice cases are hard to win, especially in the state of Iowa. There are many hoops for medical injury victims to jump through, and pursuing a case is typically expensive. As a branch of personal injury law, medical malpractice law is a subset of tort law.

What is Medical Malpractice Law?

In order to determine if you have a successful case, you need to have an accurate definition of medical malpractice law. First, it is a branch or tort law, or personal injury law, that relates to injuries caused by substandard, or low-quality medical care. Specifically, medical malpractice occurs when there is a direct link between an injury and medical care where a doctor provided treatment that was below the traditional standards of care.

However, this does not mean that you can sue a doctor because you’re not satisfied with your care. Every state has different laws regarding when you can file a claim, but in Iowa, you must show specific evidence that the care was subpar and that it caused your injury.

Alternatively, you may hear medical malpractice referenced as medical negligence.

Because of the potential frequency of cases, doctors typically carry medical malpractice insurance. This is one of many reasons why these types of cases are challenging to win.

Different Types of Medical Malpractice

As there are many types of medical injuries, there are just as many types of medical malpractice cases. A few examples of these types include:

  • Medical Device Injuries

You may have seen ads for defective medical mesh devices or implants, that’s where these cases fall. However, they may also apply to premises law.

  • Birth Injury

Giving birth is an exciting event for many couples. However, despite modern advances and procedures, labor can still be dangerous for mother and child. If a doctor or provider delivers improper care, both the mother and child’s life can be at risk. Additionally, birth injuries can even lead to disability. 

Our attorneys at Galligan Law are well-versed in birth injury law. Give us a call today to speak to a birth injury lawyer.

For major surgery, many patients are sedated or “go under.” Anesthesiologists have specific training and requirements in order to dose patients correctly. However, when mistakes happen, they can cause serious problems and injuries for the victim.

  • Doctor Errors

Doctors are highly trained professionals, however, even trained professionals make mistakes. Years in the field, long days in the office, or even just simple mistakes can lead to doctor errors.

  • Dangerous Drugs

Prescription drugs are an essential element in the medical field. Unfortunately, the creation and production of drugs can sometimes turn out defective and dangerous drugs. These defects, before they’re caught, can cause serious side-effects and damage to the people who take them.

  • Misdiagnoses

One sub-type of doctor errors includes a mistake in diagnosis. Some diseases have similar symptoms to other diseases. When malpractice occurs, it may look like a doctor is brushing off the symptoms and the prescribed treatment actually makes the patient’s symptoms worse. 

  • Failure to Treat

Diseases, especially serious diseases, get worse as time passes. Without proper care, there may be no recovery. If a doctor fails to identify the disease or provide treatment in a timely manner, you may be entitled to compensation.

  • Surgical Errors

It goes without saying that any type of surgery is a serious operation. And even highly trained, board-certified surgeons can make mistakes. These errors can result in nerve damage and loss of mobility. Another example of a surgical error is a wrong-site procedure, where incisions are made on the wrong part of the body.

Iowa Medical Malpractice Laws

Iowa has strict requirements surrounding medical lawsuit cases. If your case does not include the following, it’s likely that it will not succeed in court.

Iowa Medical Malpractice Cases Must Include:

  1. Serious injury or death as a direct result of improper medical care or negligence. There must be evidence for direct causation.
  2. Filed within 2 years of the injury, unless the injury involved an infant during childbirth.
  3. Filing deadlines must be started early and met otherwise your case will be stopped before you can go to court.
  4. The statute of limitations includes filing deadlines but also calculates the deadlines based on the discovery of the injury.

There are more exceptions and rules around submitting and filing a case in Iowa. But the general rule of thumb is when you notice or suspect you have a malpractice injury, you should talk to an Iowa medical malpractice lawyer immediately.

Our attorneys at Galligan Law follow a strict review process before each medical malpractice case. We also provide these initial consultations at no cost to you. That way, together we can decide if the potential damage award is worth pursuing.

Read more about Iowa medical malpractice on The Medical Malpractice Center website.

The Iowa Damage Cap

Get help for Iowa Medical Malpractice cases at Galligan Law.

Iowa limits plaintiffs to certain categories of damages. There are no dollar limits for general category damage awards. However, there is a $250,000 cap on the non-economic damages. This limit applies to the following damage types relating to:

  • Death of Spouse (Loss of Consortium)
  • Emotional Pain and Suffering
  • Inconvenience 
  • Mental Anguish
  • Pain
  • Physical Impairment (Disability)
  • Successful Treatment (Loss of Chance)
  • Suffering

However, these limits do not apply if a patient dies, loses major bodily functions, or is disfigured. This is why we thoroughly evaluate every potential medical malpractice case before we start. They are a long and expensive type of case to pursue, and they’re hard to win.

When Do I Need A Medical Malpractice Lawyer?

The minute you notice a significant injury or loss directly related to a lapse of proper medical care, you should talk to an Iowa medical malpractice lawyer. Iowa has set some medical malpractice limits in order to protect and defend doctors, however, those laws severely limit the ability of citizens to defend themselves from malpractice.

As a result, there’s an inordinate amount of red tape to cut through. That can only be managed with the legal expertise of the best and most experienced Iowa medical malpractice lawyers.

How do you know if you have a case for medical malpractice?

The main two criteria that can lead to a successful Iowa medical malpractice case are:

  1. The injury was serious in nature and caused significant loss in body function or disability.
  2. The Injury caused the death of the patient.
  3. Evidence shows direct causation between medical negligence and the injury.

However, it is our responsibility to not waste your time or money if your case is not likely to succeed. In order to help you choose whether or not to pursue your case, we provide a rigorous review of all potential cases.

This process involves a personal interview with our legal staff, and then a review from one of our Iowa personal injury attorneys for free.

Next, we gather your medical records and our nurse reviewer examines them and performs more research.

Finally, we take these records on to our network of medical malpractice experts for additional review. Depending on the details of your case, this entire review process may last up to six months. That is why it is vital for you to contact and work with a medical malpractice attorney as soon as you suspect malpractice.

Note that if your case does succeed, you will be charged for the cost of obtaining medical records, the nurse review, and the expert review.

Contact the Medical Malpractice Attorneys at Galligan Law in Des Moines, Iowa

You need someone on your side. Filing a medical malpractice claim takes expertise and professional resources. If you or a loved one has been injured, call our office and schedule your free case evaluation. Not every case will win, but if we can help you recover from the effects of medical negligence, we will do everything in our power to fight for you.

Sources and Further Reading:

Bal, B Sonny. “An introduction to medical malpractice in the United States.” Clinical orthopaedics and related research vol. 467,2 (2009): 339-47. doi:10.1007/s11999-008-0636-2

The Law of Medical Malpractice in Iowa: A Survey of Basic Considerations. (2020, February 22). Retrieved August 10, 2020

Iowa Limitations of Actions