Have you received medical treatment that left you worse off than if you had never seen a doctor in the first place? Did you find out you have a diagnosis that your doctor should have caught weeks, months, or even years ago? If so, you may be eligible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Our doctors have an obligation to take care of us, and when that doesn’t happen, they may owe us compensation for the damage they caused. Read on to learn more about medical malpractice and how to make sure you have a successful case.
Medical malpractice is a term for when your doctor, hospital, or other health care professional causes you harm. This can happen either through negligence, through omission, or through direct action. Your doctors have an obligation to take care of you, so they can be held liable when you suffer harm in their care.
Some examples of medical malpractice can include errors in diagnosis, treatment, aftercare, or health management. So if you discover you have cancer and your doctor failed to identify it on previous tests, that could be medical malpractice. Likewise, if you have a procedure done and it turns out you didn’t need the procedure or you are discharged too early, that may qualify as malpractice.
There are some basic requirements for a claim to qualify as medical malpractice. First, you must show that you had a doctor-patient relationship with the doctor you’re suing. You can’t sue a doctor for giving you improper medical advice if you followed a tip they mentioned at a cocktail party.
You must also prove that your doctor was negligent in their treatment of you. If they gave you medical advice that you didn’t like and you chose to ignore it, that doesn’t count as malpractice. You have to prove that the doctor caused you harm in a way that, had a competent doctor been treating you, you would not have suffered.
You also have to show that the doctor’s negligence caused the injury you are suing for. So if your doctor treated you improperly for the flu and then you fell down the stairs in the hospital and broke your leg, you can’t sue your doctor for your broken leg. You also have to prove that the injury caused the specific damages you’re suing for.
If you believe you have a viable medical malpractice suit, the first step is to talk to a medical malpractice attorney. These lawyers specialize in malpractice suits and will be able to first help you determine if your suit is viable. They’ll check pre-suit requirements such as medical expert affidavits, notices of intent to sue, etc.
You should be sure to talk to your attorney as soon as possible after a potential medical malpractice situation occurs. There are statutes of limitations that may pass if you delay too long. Some statutes will start the clock as soon as the harm occurs, while some will not start the clock until you discover the harm. You’ll need to check with your lawyer about your jurisdiction’s requirements.
When you have a medical malpractice suit, your medical records are likely to be some of the best evidence you have. So as soon as you believe you have a case, reach out to your doctor about obtaining a copy of your records. You will have to sign a release that allows your attorney and other people involved with your case to see your medical records.
As soon as you get your medical records, be sure to deliver them to your attorney. They’ll be able to look at them and tell you if they believe you have a case or not. In some cases, they may advise against filing a case they believe you cannot win or one that will not be worth the damages you’ll file for.
If you and your attorney do determine that you have a viable malpractice lawsuit, you need to notify your healthcare providers and insurance company that you intend to file a medical malpractice suit. This can happen formally or informally, but it’s likely to be a prerequisite to filing a suit in any case.
It’s a good idea to have your lawyer handle these negotiations. Your doctor or insurance company may try to take a hard line about your case or bully you into accepting a settlement that’s less than the amount you could get if you went to court. Your lawyer will know how to handle these negotiations so you get the fair amount due to you.
Aside from notifying your providers and insurers of the suit, you also need to make sure you comply with any other pre-suit requirements. Many of these requirements are designed to help streamline cases and weed out frivolous suits. If you don’t comply with any of the pre-suit requirements, it could cost you a successful case.
Your medical malpractice attorney will be very familiar with all of the requirements in your area and will be able to help you negotiate them. Follow any advice they give you and make sure to take care of anything they ask you to do as soon as possible.
The final step in starting your medical malpractice suit is to file the actual complaint. This is the formal statement of your allegations against the doctor or hospital you’re suing. Your attorney can help you draft and file these documents properly.
If you have been harmed in the course of medical treatment, you may be eligible for a medical malpractice lawsuit. The difference between a successful and unsuccessful case is in your preparation, so be sure to cross all your t’s and dot all your i’s. Hire an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can help you manage your suit and win your case.