If you sustained injuries caused by medical malpractice, you may be eligible for compensation to help pay for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Unfortunately, your medical provider and the insurance company likely has a team of experts and experienced attorneys on the other side that will make recovering damages a challenge. It’s time to level the playing field. Fighting to protect the rights of injured victims since 1992, Reno medical malpractice lawyer Stephen Osborne is on your side. Call today to begin working with a dedicated personal injury attorney.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

The American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys defines medical malpractice as an instance when a hospital, doctor, specialist, or other healthcare professional, through negligence or omission, causes an injury to a patient. Not all medical mistakes are considered medical malpractice, however. And not all adverse outcomes are grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Medical professionals owe a duty to provide you with care that meets the standards expected of healthcare professionals with similar credentials facing similar situations. When a medical professional deviates from that standard of care and a patient suffers injuries or a worsening condition that would not have occurred but for the negligent act or omission, medical malpractice has likely occurred.

Examples of Medical Malpractice

Modern Healthcare reports that diagnostic errors are the most common source of medical malpractice claims in the United States. Any breach or violation of the standards of care that cause harm to you may constitute medical negligence, however. Reno medical malpractice attorney Stephen Osborne has seen a wide range of claims against healthcare providers in Nevada. Some of the more common involve:

  • Failure to Diagnose
  • Unnecessary Surgery
  • Wrong Site Surgery
  • Emergency room errors
  • Anesthesia errors
  • Surgical errors
  • Medication Errors
  • Birth Injuries
  • Sepsis and other hospital infections
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Delayed diagnosis
  • Premature Discharge
  • Inadequate Followup or Aftercare

In most Nevada medical malpractice cases, negligence must be proven for a claim to be successful. Sometimes, however, negligence is presumed. Examples include:

  • Cases involving a foreign object that was left inside your body after surgery
  • A substance used in your medical treatment caused an explosion or fire
  • Heat, radiation, or chemicals caused an unintended burn
  • A part of your body was injured other than the part the doctor was treating
  • Wrong site or wrong patient surgery

Who Can Be Held Liable for Medical Malpractice?

Any medical professional who deviates from the standard of care and causes harm to a patient can be held liable for medical malpractice. This could be your family doctor, an attending physician in the hospital, a radiologist, the person who processes or interprets your medical test results, your nurse or midwife, or even your pharmacist. To determine whether a negligent party can be held liable for medical malpractice, your Reno medical malpractice attorney must establish which parties owed you a duty of care and who played a role in causing your injuries.

In medical malpractice cases, it is not uncommon for multiple parties to be held liable for injuries. In some cases, medical facilities and healthcare agencies can be held liable for the negligent acts committed by their employees as well. Since physicians are usually not employed by the facilities in which they work, hospitals are not generally responsible for the negligent acts or omissions committed by the doctors who work there. There are exceptions to the rule, however.

If any of the following circumstances apply to your case, we may be able to help you file a lawsuit against the hospital and doctor simultaneously.

Negligent Credentialing

If the hospital failed to check the physician’s credentials, and the unqualified doctor engaged in medical malpractice, the hospital may be able to be held liable for the injuries you sustained.

Ostensible Agency

If a reasonable patient in your position would have believed that the doctor was an employee of the hospital, the hospital may be vicariously liable for the physician’s actions under the doctrine of ostensible agency.


If the hospital knew that the doctor had a history of substance abuse or medical malpractice, the facility may be able to be held liable for any of the doctor’s acts or omissions that caused you harm.

Additionally, if a doctor was contracted with an outside agency (like a medical group) to provide services at the hospital, the agency may be able to be held liable for the physician’s negligence.

What Damages Are Available in Medical Malpractice Cases?

The damages that are available to medical malpractice victims in Reno depend on various factors. These include, but are not limited to:

  • The severity of your injuries or illness
  • What caused you harm
  • Who played a role in causing your injuries

In Nevada, two categories of damages are generally recoverable in medical malpractice claims.

Economic Damages

Economic damages, also known as “special damages”, are the financial losses you suffer because of medical negligence. If is fairly easy to assign a monetary value to your economic damages, since you will have medical bills and other types of statements to demonstrate your costs. In Nevada, there is no limit to the economic damages you may recover. Examples of economic damages include, but are not limited to:

  • Current and future medical bills
  • Prescription costs
  • Medical equipment expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Lost benefits
  • Modifications to your home or vehicle

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages, or “general damages”, are meant to compensate you for your subjective losses. Since these types of losses vary significantly from plaintiff to plaintiff, they are more difficult to quantify. Typically, the amount of non-economic damages you receive will be based on the amount of economic damages you are awarded. Nevada places a $350,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. This is the limit to the amount you may receive from each defendant name in your lawsuit. Common non-economic damages include:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium
  • Emotional trauma
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Punitive Damages

Unlike economic and non-economic damages in Nevada medical malpractice cases, which are designed to make you “whole”, punitive damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer for willful, wanton, or malicious acts. Punitive damages are also designed to deter similar acts by the defendant and other healthcare providers in the future. In Nevada, punitive damages are capped at $300,000 if the compensatory damages are less than $100,000. If the compensatory damages are $100,000 or more, you can be awarded punitive damages of up to three times the amount of those damages. Examples that may warrant punitive damages in medical malpractice cases include:

  • Performing surgery while intoxicated
  • Performing unnecessary surgery
  • Committing fraud
  • Engaging in acts for which the provider is not qualified

How Nevada’s Statute of Limitations Applies to Your Medical Malpractice Case

The statute of limitations to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in civil court is typically three years from the date of the injury, or one year from the date the patient discovers the injury. Exceptions may apply to your case, however.

If the healthcare provider concealed the negligent act or omission upon which your medical malpractice claim is based, the statute of limitations may be extended.

Additionally, if the patient is a child who suffered a brain injury because of medical malpractice during childbirth, a case can be brought any time before the child reaches the age of ten.

If medical malpractice caused your loved one to die, your case will fall under Nevada’s wrongful death statute. If you are the personal representative or eligible relative of the decedent, you will have up to two years from the date of your loved one’s death to file a wrongful death claim against the negligent healthcare provider.

Call Reno medical negligence lawyer Stephen Osborne to determine how the statute of limitations may apply to your case.

How to File a Medical Malpractice Claim

In Nevada, various procedural rules, referred to as “tort reform,” have been put in place to curb the filing of meritless, or even frivolous, medical malpractice lawsuits. When these rules are not followed, a medical malpractice case can be dismissed by the court.

The Affidavit of Merit Requirement for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

When you and your attorney file a medical malpractice case in a Reno court, your claim must include an “affidavit of merit.” Without an accompanying affidavit that complies with Nevada law, the court may dismiss your case “without prejudice.” This gives you the opportunity to re-file your case after you have obtained the affidavit.
To meet the requirements, the affidavit must be submitted by a qualified medical expert who:

  • Supports your allegations stated in your complaint
  • Identifies each medical professional or facility that allegedly committed medical negligence
  • Describes in simple, concise, and direct terms, the negligent acts or omissions

Medical Expert Qualifications for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits in Nevada

Nevada also sets stringent rules about the qualifications required of the medical expert who submits the affidavit of merit in your case. In a Nevada medical malpractice lawsuit, the medical expert must be one who practices, or has previously practiced medicine in an area of practice that is substantially similar to the area described in your lawsuit. A dentist, for example, would not be an ideal medical expert in a medical malpractice case involving birth injuries like neonatal sepsis.

These same qualifications apply to medical experts giving testimony in court to prove that the negligent healthcare provider deviated from the accepted standard of care when your injuries occurred.

Settlement Conference Requirement for Nevada Medical Malpractice Cases

Under Nevada law, all parties to a medical malpractice or dental malpractice action, the parties’ attorneys, and the respective insurers are required to attend and participate in a Reno settlement conference. The settlement conference must be held before a district judge other than the judge who is assigned to the case. Its purpose is to determine whether the case can be settled before proceeding to trial.

Although the judge may waive the appearance of any party for good cause, the failure of any party to attend the conference without a waiver is grounds for sanctions, including monetary sanctions.

At the conference, the judge decides the value of the claim. If the defendant rejects the judge’s settlement suggestion, and you are ultimately awarded a larger amount, the defendant will be responsible for paying your costs and attorney fees. If you reject the suggested settlement amount, however, and you are awarded a smaller amount, you could be responsible for paying the defendant’s costs.

You may benefit from the settlement conference requirement because it can eliminate the months-long wait for a trial date, providing a speedier resolution to your case. If a settlement agreement cannot be reached, however, your case will proceed to trial.

How to Prove Medical Malpractice

Your Reno medical malpractice attorney must prove four elements for your negligence case to be successful.

Duty of Care

For a viable medical malpractice case to exist, your attorney must establish that the defendant owed you a duty to provide treatment with the reasonable care, knowledge, and skill expected, based on the accepted standards of care.

Breach of Duty

Your medical malpractice lawyer will need to show that the healthcare professional deviated from the standard of care expected of similarly trained and experienced healthcare providers in the same or similar circumstances.


An adverse outcome in a medial setting is not enough to constitute medical malpractice. We will need to demonstrate that the medical provider’s deviation from the standard of care, through negligent act or omission, proximately caused your injuries.


Likewise, the mere fact that a medical mistake was made is not enough to sue for medical malpractice. For your case to be successful, we must be able to show that you suffered some type of injury because of the negligent act or omission.

Types of Cases We Handle

Medical malpractice lawyer Stephen Osborne handles all types of malpractice cases in Reno and the surrounding area. Whether you suffered temporary injuries, catastrophic injuries, or your loved one died because of medical malpractice, our law firm will provide personalized attention to your case.

Emergency Room Errors

Hospital emergency rooms are often filled with patients who have life-threatening illnesses or injuries. In an environment where every second counts, there is no room for medical error. Although emergency room practitioners take on an extraordinary burden in providing lifesaving treatment to patients, you should not be forced to suffer the consequences of substandard care. While some emergency room mistakes are fairly minor, others like misdiagnosing or delaying the treatment of a heart attack or stroke can be fatal. If you or a loved one suffered an injury, or your condition worsened, and you believe that an emergency room error is to blame, you may be entitled to compensation.

Surgical Errors

Surgical errors can cause severe infections, internal bleeding and organ damage, disfigurement, nerve injuries, and even death. In many cases, victims must undergo additional surgeries and ongoing medical treatments for months, and even years after a surgical mistake. Sometimes, the damage is permanent, and patients must live with amputations, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, or paralysis. If you suffered serious injuries or your loved one died on the operating table, a surgical error may be to blame. Call our office for a free case evaluation to discuss the details of your case.

Medical Malpractice in Nursing Homes

Medical malpractice is not the same as nursing home negligence. For a nursing home resident to have a medical malpractice case in Nevada, he or she must have been receiving medical care that caused the injury or illness. Common examples of medical malpractice in nursing homes include, but are not limited to: medication errors, failure to diagnose, failure to obtain informed consent, and failure to treat or act upon the symptoms of a medical condition.

Why File a Medical Malpractice Claim?

Approximately 1 in 6 patients in hospitals in the United States are victims of some type of medical malpractice. Unfortunately, only about 3% of victims take legal action by filing a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit. As a result, many negligent medical care providers are never held accountable for the harm they cause. They go on to make the same, or similar, mistakes when treating other patients. And hundreds of thousands of injured patients are forced to shoulder the emotional, physical, and financial consequences of medical mistakes.
Filing a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit can:

  • Ensure medical professionals are held to the standards expected of similarly qualified healthcare providers in their field
  • Hold healthcare professionals accountable for their reckless acts or omissions
  • Prevent additional patients from suffering the same fate
  • Provide financial relief to you and your family members

Reach out to our team today to begin working with an experienced Reno medical malpractice lawyer.