We put a lot of trust in doctors and other health care professionals. In many cases, we are literally putting our lives in their hands. If a doctor makes a mistake that endangers the health or well-being of a patient, they may be liable in a court of law.
When should a doctor be held accountable? If you think you might have a case against your doctor, it’s important to understand how medical malpractice cases work. Winning such a case can be difficult and requires the right practices and strategies.
Want to learn more? Read on and we’ll walk you through a few key things you should know about pursuing a medical malpractice case.
There some lawsuits that you can bring forward long after the incident has initially occurred. In these cases, there is less of a need for speed and quick filing. That’s certainly not the case when it comes to bringing forward accusations of medical malpractice.
Many states have a statute of limitations in place that limits when a person can legally bring a case forward. The exact restrictions will vary depending on the jurisdiction in which a person resides. There are different windows of time allotted to victims, and there are even different rules as to when the ‘clock’ for these deadlines begins.
In some places, a person will have a certain amount of time from when the malpractice-resulting injury was discovered. In other locations, there will be a deadline set from the act of malpractice itself. That means how long it takes to discover the resulting injury or complications can play a big role in the legality of a lawsuit.
Regardless of where you are, you need to act fast. An experienced attorney will be familiar with the deadlines and rules in your jurisdiction and can get everything filed in time to make your case happen.
When it comes to medical malpractice cases, you’ll need to have evidence on your side. The best evidence in these cases is usually of the paper sort, namely medical records.
The first thing you’ll want to do when you hire an attorney for your case is to sign the necessary paperwork allowing them to access your medical records. You can get a head start on gathering evidence by requesting a copy of your records the moment you think you might have a case.
It can sometimes take days or even weeks to get the papers back in your own possession.
When attorneys have your records in their possession, they can begin to analyze the information present. They can present the information to other medical professionals and may even be able to pull in witnesses they can use during the case.
Your attorneys will be able to tell you if you have a strong case or if the evidence provided is not sufficient enough to be worth bringing forward.
Before you plan to bring a medical malpractice case forward, it’s important that you take a moment to understand the legal concept of negligence. You can’t sue a doctor just because a procedure or practice didn’t work out as expected or hoped.
No, a medical malpractice case only works in a scenario where a doctor failed to live up to their duty of care. Doctors operate under expectations of reasonable and unreasonable behavior. Often, what is reasonable or not is judged by other medical professionals.
A breach of duty would require a doctor to make a mistake that would be considered unreasonable by others in the medical community. Using unsafe or untested practices without warning a patient is one way to breach duty. Another would be to act recklessly or carelessly, like showing up to work while intoxicated.
It’s essential that you and your attorneys can pinpoint a breach of duty if you hope to bring a medical malpractice case forward.
It can be helpful to reach out to the insurance company that represents the health care provider you worked with. Notifying them of the potential lawsuit will trigger insurance coverage and an internal review of the situation from their side of the equation.
In some states, it’s a legal requirement that you notify the insurance company before bringing a case forward.
In many cases, an insurance company will work with the prosecution to come to a settlement agreement. Many medical malpractice cases never have to go to court and are entirely worked out in this mediation phase.
Insurance companies have their own team of highly trained lawyers, so it’s recommended you work with an attorney who has experience doing these kinds of negotiations.
Ideally, your attorney will have worked through these kinds of settlements many times before taking on your particular case. This experience can be invaluable.
Always make sure to talk to your attorneys before reaching out to an insurance company. You always want to make sure that you’re on the same side and have the same strategy as your representation.
Medical malpractice cases can be complicated. In order to win a case and get the compensation one deserves, they will need to successfully establish a case and negotiate for a proper settlement. With an experienced attorney by your side and the tips above in mind, success should be an easier proposition.
Need help tackling your case? Give us a call and let us provide expert assistance.
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