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PIP vs. Health Insurance

PIP-vs.-Health-Insurance

I have written about this topic before, but it is something that most people who have never been involved in a collision just do not realize. Almost every automobile policy, unless you specifically decline it, has a specific provision that your insurance company will pay your medical bills and lost wages up to a certain amount of time and up to the amount of policy limits that you paid. The minimum limits in Delaware are $15,000.00 per person/$30,000.00 for everyone in the motor vehicle.

A lot of people do not understand what I have stated above when they are involved in a motor vehicle collision. They generally will use their health insurance whether it be general health insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare. The problem with using other health insurance besides car insurance, you almost always have an obligation to pay back the money that the other health insurers paid on your behalf. If you use your automobile insurance, you do not have any obligation to pay back your insurance company for paying out that money. They have a right to go after the person that caused the collision to try to get their money back, if there is enough insurance left over. You do have a right to get all the insurance available for the injuries you sustained.

Again, as I have stated previously, but keep seeing it is that people have very minimum car insurance for medical bills and/or lost wages. Sometimes, that is all you can afford. Go to your agent or insurance company and ask how much it cost to get higher levels of insurance. Generally, it is not a lot more money over the course of a year to get a higher level. A one day stay in the hospital will basically wipe out the minimum limits for the $15,000.00 a person has in insurance through the vehicle. If you are in the hospital for a day, you will have additional medical expenses. Also, you will have lost wages. If you simply can not afford more, that is fine. Motor vehicle collisions just happen all too frequently and you do not want to be in the position where you do not have a right to get fair compensation for your injuries.

What I also see, as I stated before is people that have deductibles on the PIP (Personal Injury Protection ) insurance on their automobile. Again, that is your medical and lost wage coverage. In other words you will have a $15,000.00 policy, but a $5,000.00 deductible. That means the first $5,000.00 is not going to be paid by your insurance company. If you do not have health insurance, or even if you do, it becomes a nightmare to get that paid. That means doctors may not see you, you will get collection notices from hospitals or other types of medical providers. Importantly, you will not get the treatment that is necessary. Getting rid of the deductibles are generally very inexpensive. As I have stated, it always matters if you can afford it or not. However, I have seen cases where people end up in serious financial distress even though the collision was not their fault. It has happened more than a few times. It is something you need to look at and make a decision not just about getting in a motor vehicle collision, but your financial health.

Contact the Law Office of Michael J. Hood

At the law office of Michael J. Hood, in Wilmington, we bring more than 30 years of experience to personal injury victims in Delaware and Pennsylvania. For a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at 302-777-1000 for an appointment.

Medical Malpractice and Inadequate Prenatal Screening

Doctor taking notesWhen you are pregnant, one of the most important steps you can take is to engage in regular testing and prenatal screening. If the tests indicate that your child may be prone to, or will have, a congenital disease or defect, you can either prepare yourself financially for the challenges to come, or you may elect to terminate the pregnancy. Of course, as a lay person, you’ll have to rely on medical advice to know what types of screening you need and when you need them. When your doctor fails to properly conduct appropriate prenatal screening, or when there are errors in detecting birth defects or other health problems, you may have a claim for “wrongful birth.”

The types of screening generally fall into two categories—invasive and non-invasive tests. Generally, you’ll start with non-invasive tests—an ultrasound, blood or genetic tests or what is known as a nuchal translucency test. If those tests indicate abnormalities or concerns, you may want to have one of the more demanding and conclusive procedures, such as an amniocentesis or a chorionic villi sampling. With the amniocentesis, a small puncture is made to your placenta, so that amniotic fluid (which surrounds and protects your child) can be withdrawn and tested. With the chorionic villi sampling, technicians will take a sample of your chorionic tissue for analysis.

As with most things, the earlier you can have prenatal screening or test, the better. The sooner you identify potential problems, the sooner doctors can take remedial measures or the sooner you can decide to end the pregnancy.

Contact the Law Office of Michael J. Hood

At the law office of Michael J. Hood, in Wilmington, we bring more than 30 years of experience to personal injury victims in Delaware and Pennsylvania. For a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at 302-777-1000 for an appointment.

Determining Financial Losses in a Medical Malpractice Case

Doctor reading notesWhen you seek medical treatment for an injury or illness, you may not expect a complete recovery. But you don’t anticipate that your condition will worsen because of the carelessness or negligence of medical professionals. When that happens, though, you have a right to seek compensation for your losses. But how do you determine exactly what your losses were?

In any type of personal injury claim, there are what are known as economic losses and what are called non-economic losses. Economic losses are generally those that are easy to identify and calculate, frequently limited to the loss of earning capacity or specific property. Non-economic losses cover less tangible injuries, including pain and suffering, loss of companionship or consortium, or infliction of emotional distress.

When looking at losses sustained because of medical malpractice, you have to break down your damages into three categories—those immediately caused by the negligence, those that will be long-term losses, and those that represent lost opportunities.

With medical malpractice, the immediate losses can include a wide range of effects. You may not be able to work because of your injury or illness. You may require special equipment, need in-home care, require drugs or medication, of have costs of transportation because you can’t drive.

Some of your longer term losses may look similar to immediate losses. Your injury may prevent you from ever returning to your job. You may require physical therapy, rehabilitation or some other long-term medical treatment. You may be forced into early retirement.

Finally, there’s the opportunity cost. You may no longer be able to engage in athletic activities or other things that have given you joy or pleasure. You may have to pass up a job promotion or change because of the consequences of the malpractice.

Contact the Law Office of Michael J. Hood

At the law office of Michael J. Hood, in Wilmington, we bring more than 30 years of experience to personal injury victims in Delaware and Pennsylvania. For a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at 302-777-1000 for an appointment.

Examples of Strong Medical Malpractice Cases

Sitting doctorAs personal injury cases go, medical malpractice can be one of the most difficult to prove and to win. Often, expert witness testimony is critical to the success or failure of a med mal claim. What are some of the key components of the best medical malpractice claims?

Let’s start by identify what types of cases are not strong ones:

  • Cases where there may be injury, but there are no losses—You may be able to show that a medical professional acted carelessly or negligently, but you won’t have a claim unless you can show some loss. For example, a doctor may have prescribed the wrong medication, but if you did not suffer any physical, emotional or financial loss because of the mistake, there’s little to be gained by filing a lawsuit.
  • Cases where the medical professional did not abide by the commonly accepted standard, but there was no injury. A doctor may have negligently failed to conduct prenatal testing or monitoring, but if your child is born healthy, there is no malpractice.

Conversely, a strong medical malpractice case starts with a clear injury (stemming from the malpractice), as well as specifically identifiable losses. If you can show that a doctor operated on the wrong body part, that’s a clear demonstration of an injury. In addition, though, you need to show that you suffered loss as a result. If you were unable to return to work, or if you had to pay out of your pocket for medication or other procedures, you would likely have a strong case—clear liability and identifiable losses.

Contact the Law Office of Michael J. Hood

At the law office of Michael J. Hood, in Wilmington, we bring more than 30 years of experience to personal injury victims in Delaware and Pennsylvania. For a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at 302-777-1000 for an appointment.

The Standard of Care in a Medical Malpractice Claim

Close-up of gloved hands passing the surgical scissors

A Medical Professional’s Standard of Care with Respect to Patient Injury

As a general principle in personal injury claims based on negligence, an injured party must show:

  • The defendant breached an accepted duty to use a reasonable standard of care in whatever activity caused the injury—driving a car, building a house, manufacturing a product, providing a service.
  • The failure to use the accepted standard of care actually caused an injury
  • The injured party suffered a loss because of the accident

In general negligence actions, the standard of care is that of a reasonable person, typically defined as an average person of ordinary prudence. However, in claims involving allegations of medical negligence or malpractice, though, the standard of care is significantly different. Because of the risks associated with receiving inappropriate medical care, doctors and nurses are generally held to a higher standard of care than others.

In a medical malpractice claim, therefore, to determine whether a doctor or nurse acted properly, the jury must consider the following:

  • Was the care provided similar to that which would be given by a reasonably competent and skilled health professional (not an ordinary person), with a similar background (education and experience), in the same medical community (standards may vary from one medical community to the next).

In most lawsuits alleging medical negligence or malpractice, the accepted standard by which the medical professional will be judged is established through expert testimony. Frequently, both sides will offer witnesses who testify regarding the practices and procedures that are considered reasonable within the profession and the community. Certain states have enacted legislation requiring that anyone seeking damages for alleged medical negligence retain an expert in the same field and from the same community.

Contact the Law Office of Michael J. Hood

At the law office of Michael J. Hood, in Wilmington, we bring more than 30 years of experience to personal injury victims in Delaware. For a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at 302-777-1000 for an appointment.

The Common Types of Surgical Errors

The Most Frequent Types of Surgical Mistakes

Doctors operatingUndergoing a surgical procedure can be a nerve-wracking process. It can be unsettling to know that a doctor will cut into your body, so you want to know that the professional you have chosen has the requisite skill, as well as the history for using appropriate caution to minimize the risk of side-effects or unanticipated consequences. Even though modern medicine can do some amazing things, there are still far too many situations where lack of standards or lack of attention result in surgical error. Here are the most common types of surgical errors:

  • Failure to use due care—In some situations, the surgeon can try to move too quickly, or without requisite concern for surrounding organs or potential injury to other parts of the body. For example, the surgeon may not take the time to verify where certain nerves are, or may nick a spleen or other vital organ out of simple carelessness.
  • Operating on the wrong body part—Most hospitals work extremely hard to ensure that the surgery is performed on the correct body part. Nurses or doctors may use bright colored tape to designate the correct limb or body part, or may put a big black X on the wrong limb. Nonetheless, too many patients still have surgical procedures on the wrong body part.
  • Cutting at the wrong spot—A surgeon may make an incision in the wrong place, complicating the procedure or even making it impossible to perform the surgery
  • Leaving a surgical tool or implement in a body cavity—The surgeon may have a sponge, scalpel or other item that needs to be used inside a patient’s body, and forget to take it out before the wound is sewn up.
  • Medications errors, including anesthesia mistakes—These can result from the failure to conduct a proper work-up, from the administration of too much or too little anesthesia, or from the use of the wrong medication
  • Operating on the wrong patient—This typically happens when patient charts get mixed up

Contact the Law Office of Michael J. Hood

At the law office of Michael J. Hood, in Wilmington, we bring more than 30 years of experience to personal injury victims in Delaware. For a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000 for an appointment.

Medical Malpractice—Failure to Diagnose

When a Medical Professional Fails to Diagnose an Illness or Injury

When there’s something wrong with you, you count on medically trained professionals to take the right steps to accurately diagnose your problem, so that you can get the treatment you need to get better. Unfortunately, far too often, doctors and nurses neglect the telltale signs of a disease or fail to order routine tests that could provide the answers you need. If your condition has gone untreated or you have suffered in any way because of the failure of a medical caregiver to properly diagnose a condition, you have a right to pursue damages for negligence.

Most claims involving medical injury are based on a legal theory of negligence. Under the law, everyone, including doctors and nurses, has a duty to act reasonably in the performance of their job. With doctors, the standard is actually a little higher. Doctors are held to a standard of care equal to that of someone with equal training and experience, practicing in the same area.

With respect to diagnosis of an injury or illness, your doctor would be expected to use the same level of care in diagnosing your malady as would another doctor with similar training and experience in the same geographic location. That may include:

  • Conducting a detailed examination to identify all potential causes
  • Ordering necessary tests
  • Referring you to specialists, if necessary
  • Bringing in experts to ensure proper evaluation of test results, if necessary
  • Seeking a second opinion, if appropriate

Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose often arises with respect to illnesses, such as cancer, blood afflictions or heart disease. It can, however, also involve a failure to diagnose bone, connective tissue or muscle damage.

Contact Attorney Michael J. Hood

For a private meeting with a medical malpractice attorney, please contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request. We will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary. There is no cost for your first consultation.

Medical Malpractice—Surgical Errors

Surgical Mistakes—Your Right to Damages When a Surgical Team Goofs

It seems that regardless of the number of surgical errors that regularly occur—regardless of the procedures seemingly put in place to protect patients in surgery—doctors and nurses still get distracted, fail to pay attention and far too often make mistakes during surgery that cause unnecessary pain and suffering.

The Standard of Care in a Surgical Procedure

Under common law negligence principles in the United States, every person has a duty to act at all times as a reasonable person. This includes during the performance of a job. For a surgeon, the bar is even higher—a surgeon must abide by the standards of a person with similar training and experience working in the same type of surgical practice in the same geographic area. Accordingly, a doctor who performs surgery must typically exercise the care of a skilled surgeon.

In most medical malpractice cases, expert testimony is required to demonstrate the appropriate standard of care.

The Common Types of Surgical Negligence

There are a number of errors that can occur during surgery:

  • A surgeon may simply be careless in proximity to other bodily organs, nicking a spleen or other organ, for example
  • A surgeon may ignore patient vitals, such as blood pressure, causing injury
  • A surgeon may neglect to take proper precautions to sterilize and sanitize, leading to unnecessary infection
  • A surgeon may conduct the wrong type of surgery on a patient, or may operate on the wrong body part
  • A surgical tool or implement may be left in a body cavity

Contact Our Office

To arrange a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

 

Hospitals and the Threat of Superbugs

Elsmere Delaware Medical Malpractice Attorney

Due to the wide use of antibiotics over the last hundred years or so, dangerous drug-resistant strains of bacteria are now a common threat in hospitals and emergency rooms across the country. In fact, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug-resistant bacteria infects more than two million people nationwide and is responsible for at least 23,000 deaths. While many people may have heard of necrotizing fasciitis, commonly referred to as “flesh eating bacteria”, there are a number of other bacteria that represent an increasing threat to the health of patients in hospitals and emergency rooms.

Drug Resistant Bacteria – A New Threat in Hospitals and ERs

At the moment, there are primarily six different superbugs that represent a serious threat to patients:

  • MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) – often associated with urinary tract, bone, and joint infections. The mortality rate for MRSA is roughly 35%.
  • Resistant Streptococcus (Strep A) – Also known as flesh eating bacteria, the morality rate for Strep A is roughly 28%.
  • Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus – Especially dangerous – roughly a 40% mortality rate – if it enters an open wound or the urinary tract.
  • Resistant Klebsiella Pneumonia – Associated with NDM-1. Results in difficult to treat blood infections, surgical site infections, and meningitis. The mortality rate is roughly 50%.
  • Resistant Pseudomonas Aeruginosa – Typically enters through a cut or break in the skin, leading to kidney and blood infections. A serious threat to cancer patients, the mortality rate of this bug is roughly 50%.
  • Resistant Acinetobacter Baumannii – This bug represents a big threat to people with a suppressed immune system. As a result, patients undergoing an invasive procedure at a hospital are particularly vulnerable. The mortality for this superbug is roughly 80%.

Hygiene – The Key to Preventing Superbug Infections

The best way to prevent an infection from a superbug is through hygiene. While hospitals often undertake efforts to prevent infection, the threat of these superbugs demands that hospitals take additional measures. Failure on the part of doctors or nurses to wash their hands thoroughly can increase or cause an infection. Additionally, healthcare staff must properly clean and sterilize catheters, ventilators, and other medical utensils to minimize or prevent superbug infections.

When proper hygiene is not practiced, hospitals can be held financially liable for injuries and deaths that happen as a result.

Contact Elsmere Medical Malpractice Attorney Michael Hood

When a superbug infection happens, it’s not uncommon for hospitals to claim there are risks associated with every medical procedure or hospitalization. While true in principle, this side steps the issue of whether or not proper preventative measures were taken.

If you’ve suffered medical complications due to a superbug infection, contact medical malpractice attorney Michael Hood today to discuss your case. Contact our office online or call us at (302) 777-1000. There is no charge for your first visit.

We’ve Moved!

Attorney Michael J. Hood Has a New Location!

The law office of Michael J. Hood has moved to a new location:

The office of Michael J. Hood, LLC, we have provided comprehensive legal counsel to personal injury victims in Delaware and Pennsylvania since 1982. We understand the uncertainty and anxiety that come in the aftermath of a personal injury. We will work hard to make certain that you have accurate and up-to-date information at all times. We will learn as much as we can about your accident and injuries so that we can give you a timely and realistic appraisal of the strengths and weaknesses of your case, the reasonable value of your claim and your chances of success.

We offer a free initial consultation. For a confidential meeting, contact us online.

Practice Areas

Contact Michael J. Hood

Michael J. Hood represents premises liability accident & personal injury victims in the cities of Wilmington, Newark, Middleton, Seaford, Laurel, Milford, Brookside, Claymont, Pike Creek, Wilmington Manor, Elsmere, Edgemoor, New Castle, Chester, Springfield, West Chester, Broomall, Woodlyn, Elkton and Pennsville. Also serving New Castle County, Kent County and Sussex County in Delaware as well as Delaware county, Chester county and Philadelphia county in PA.