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Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if I have been injured by the medical negligence of a doctor or hospital?

If you believe that a medical provider has been negligent in your treatment or the treatment of a loved one, and you have suffered a serious injury, you should contact an experienced medical negligence attorney at once.


Minimal or temporary injuries, even when due to medical malpractice, are usually not worth pursuing due to the significant investment in time and expenses that must be made in pursuing a viable medical malpractice case. Most experienced medical malpractice firms cannot accept such cases for this reason.

Is medical malpractice a common occurrence?

Unfortunately, yes.


A recent Johns Hopkins study estimated more than 250,000 people in the United States die each year from medical errors.  Other studies and estimates report the numbers to be as high as 440,000 people per year. Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, after heart disease and cancer. Fame and fortune do not protect against death from medical malpractice.


Many famous celebrities have died of medical malpractice including George Washington (1799), Marilyn Monroe (1962), Elvis Presley (1977), Andy Warhol (1987) Dick Shaap (2001), Michael Jackson (2009), Joan Rivers (2014), Prince (2016), Bernie Mack (2008), Glenn Frey (2006), Maurice Gibb (2003) and Bill Paxton (2017) to name a few.


Others have had career-ending or life altering injuries from medical malpractice, such as Julie Andrews, Marty Balin, Dana Carvey, Pete Hamilton and Hulk Hogan, to name a few more.

What is malpractice, what is not?

The fact that medical care results in a bad outcome does not mean the cause was medical malpractice but all medical malpractice results in a bad outcome.


Generally speaking, medical malpractice occurs when a bad outcome or medical “complications” occur that were preventable with the exercise of normal, due care.  What constitutes normal due care by a doctor, hospital or other health provider is sometimes called in medicine and law the “standard of care”.

What does “standard of care” mean?

This is a legal/medical term that addresses knowledge and skill on the part of a doctor or healthcare provider.


A medical victim has the burden of proving in court that an injury or death was caused by a lack of knowledge or skill by a doctor or healthcare provider that other doctors or providers in the same specialty or locality normally provide under the same or similar circumstances.  This is known as a breach of the standard of care.  In almost all cases, this must be done by expert medical testimony or the case will be dismissed before trial.

I signed a consent form or release. Can I still file suit?

Yes. Signing a consent form or release does not release a doctor, hospital or medical provider from negligent infliction of an injury or death. Any agreement in advance to waive your right to claim compensation for medical malpractice is null and void as a matter of law.  No patient may consent in advance to medical malpractice.

Do you only handle medical malpractice cases in Louisiana?

No.  While the majority of our cases are in courts in Louisiana, we frequently handle cases in Mississippi and some cases in Gulf Coast Alabama and the Florida panhandle as well.

How long do I have to bring a claim?

Generally speaking, in Louisiana, a victim has one year to bring a medical malpractice case from the date when the malpractice occurred or when a reasonable person would have discovered the injury or death might be due to medical malpractice.


There are several exceptions to this general rule but in no event may a medical malpractice claim be brought in Louisiana more than three years after the malpractice occurred.


In Mississippi, a victim generally has two years to bring a claim after malpractice occurs or is discovered.

How long does it take to receive compensation?

This depends greatly on the nature of the case and there is no simple answer to this question.  A medical malpractice lawsuit is a complicated matter that is usually contested no matter how clear or obvious the malpractice may seem.  They are almost never resolved quickly by hospitals or doctors when presented with a claim.


In our experience, medical malpractice cases that are settled without trial generally resolve within two to three years of the date a claim is submitted to the Patient Compensation Fund in Louisiana.


Cases our firm accepts are aggressively pushed through the medical review panel process and then the judicial system.  Cases that go to trial generally do so three to four years after initial filing.  Rarely do cases go longer than that, but we have no control over the scheduling of either the medical review panels or the courts.


In Mississippi, cases move a bit more quickly because they do not first have to process through a medical review panel, as is the case in Louisiana.  Nonetheless, we have no ultimate control over the scheduling of a case for trial and resolution by the courts.

Why should I choose Wagar Hickman, LLC to represent me?

It is important that you retain a trial lawyer experienced in medical malpractice litigation to handle your medical negligence claim.  We are such a firm.


Medical malpractice cases are unlike car crashes or slip and fall claims for which there is so much advertising on billboards and television by attorneys who handle a high volume of cases like these.  Most of the time, big-budget advertising law firms do not themselves handle medical malpractice because they take a long time to resolve and require significant monetary and time investment by the most experienced litigation attorneys.  They refer them to lawyers like us who do.


Unlike car wreck cases, medical malpractice claims are rarely settled quickly.  They almost always require expert testimony from medical doctors to be viable and most local doctors will not involve themselves at all in litigation against other doctors.  We work with a wide variety of doctors in many medical specialties to screen our cases for viability and to work with us as experts if necessary.


We do not charge for an initial consultation on inquiries from prospective clients.  Nor do we charge for the cost of initial medical screening of malpractice claims nor investigation, including securing your complete medical records on any cases we provisionally accept for that purpose.  We offer all accepted clients the option of paying our fees and costs on a contingency fee basis; no recovery, no fees.


Wagar Hickman has been representing medical malpractice victims for many years.  Chip Wagar, Sarah Hickman and their staff have extensive experience in the handling of these kinds of cases including some forty years of trial practice and advocacy in both state and federal courts.  They have acquired a deep knowledge of medicine and the unique statutes and case law applicable to medical malpractice cases that they can put to work for you.


If you or a loved one has suffered a devastating injury or death due to medical malpractice, don’t trust your fate and that of your family to amateurs or dilletante lawyers.  Place your trust in the hands of experienced med mal trial attorneys like Wagar Hickman, as so many other victims of medical malpractice have done.  We cannot guarantee a favorable result – which depends on the facts of your individual case – but we can promise the highest level of experience and advocacy in handling your case.