Have you been injured by a medical professional? Medical malpractice is rare, but when it does happen its impact can be devasting on your health and wellbeing. If you have been a victim, you need to bring it to light not just for your own peace of mind, but for the safety of others.
A medical malpractice lawsuit can be confusing and tricky to navigate. Below, we breakdown how to begin a lawsuit in our must-know medical malpractice guide.
1. Understand What a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Is
Before filing for medical malpractice, you should first understand what it is. Malpractice is when a health professional, such as a doctor or nurse, causes an injury to a patient. This can be through diagnosis errors, wrong treatment, in the aftercare, or management of health.
Any claim you make must fall under one of three areas. These are the violation of the care standard, any injury caused by negligence, or an injury resulting in significant damage.
2. Contact the Professional Involved
It is important to contact the medical professional you worked with before suing your doctor. Firstly, it may be that you can come to an amicable solution. It will help you get a better understanding of what happened, went wrong, and give the doctor chance to correct it.
In addition to this, it will add to any possible cases later down the line if you are known to have tried to resolve the situation before going to court. Many doctors will be willing to perform follow-ups and correct mistakes for free, to avoid court appearances and damage to their reputation.
3. Establish if the Duty of Care Was Upheld
The duty of care is the basic relationship between the medical professional and the patient. These are medical standards set by the profession as acceptable, given the circumstances. Patients have the right to expect that medical professionals will deliver care consistent with these standards.
In a malpractice case, it is up to the injured party to prove that these standards have not been met. The defense must prove that their work was consistent with the duty of care.
4. Contact the Medical Board
If you do not have any progress after contacting the professional, you should try the medical board that governs them. They may not be able to order the professional to rectify the situation. They will however be able to issue a warning or start disciplinary proceedings.
5. Check Your Evidence
When compiling a case, you need to make sure you have sufficient evidence to mount your plea. Part of this will require having medical experts with credentials, who will stand up for you in court and present. The medical record they provide will need to be thorough, backed up by evidence, and show the damage caused by the malpractice.
Any good malpractice lawyer will know what kind of evidence you need. If you do not have this evidence, then the suit will not stand up in court.
6. File a Suit Within the Given Time Period
It is important that you know how long in legal terms you have to file the claim. These statutes of limitations require you to file your claim within a time period beginning at the time the injury occurred. If it is not at this time, you can lose your rights to compensation.
Statutes of limitations differ by state. They apply to all civil cases, not just medical malpractice cases.
7. Find a Board Certified Medical Malpractice Attorney
Medical malpractice requires a specialist attorney. As the case will often be dealing with complex medical situations, the attorney needs a background in both criminal law and knowledge of medicine and medical practice. A standard attorney may not have this skill base and experience.
The American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys (ABPLA) certifies professional medical malpractice lawyers in this field. They must meet rigorous standards in the areas of ethics, education, and experience through examinations in professional liability law. You should consult an attorney who has the certification to get the best possible result in your malpractice suit.
8. Do Not Be Intimidated by the System
Medical professionals set out to help people, and it can seem wrong to provoke a legal challenge if someone made a mistake while trying to do something good. However, medical professionals are human, and they can get lazy, cut corners, and become negligent just like anyone in any other profession. If you have been injured, it is your civic duty to bring it to light before it happens to someone else.
You should not feel intimidated by the medical system. Trust in a professional is essential, but it is also important to trust your body and instincts. If you have sensed something was wrong or not right and brought it to the attention of medical professionals without result, then make sure this is included in your defense.
9. Define Any Visible Breaches of Duty
A visible breach of duty is the physical injury caused to you by the medical professional. In easier to see circumstances, it may be that a doctor has left something inside you during an operation, or failed to remove the cause of the problem resulting in further complications.
Harder to judge cases may be infections or complications due to surgery. In these cases, the malpractice suit will have to determine that it was a case of negligence and not a result of natural, unavoidable side effects and necessary risk.
Another example may be a doctor who has misdiagnosed and treated you for one illness. This may have caused problems, while the other ailment they failed to notice has increased in severity.
10. Consider Out of Court Settlements
An out of court settlement is an amount of money offered to you to drop the legal case. This is because legal proceedings can often be time-consuming, expensive affairs for both parties. You should consider the amount of money you would settle out of court for before going into proceedings.
Choosing a Law Firm
A medical malpractice lawsuit is a long, time consuming, and confusing affair. Many of them do not even reach court, but if your case does, it must have compelling evidence that you need to bring to light. Medical professionals have a duty of care, that when not upheld, needs to be dealt with and compensated appropriately.
Reed & Reed is a family-run law firm based in Florida. We have over 30 years of combined experience in personal injury law. Contact us here for a free initial consultation and get the justice you deserve, starting today.