What To Consider Before Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Are you the victim of negligence by a physician or surgeon? Medical malpractice happens more often than you’d think.
In fact, more than 250,000 people in the country die every year because of medical mistakes. Medical malpractice is now the third leading cause of death in the country behind heart disease and cancer.
Suing a doctor for malpractice can change the entire course of their career. Before you file a medical malpractice lawsuit, it’s important to understand the details of your case.
Here are a few things to consider before suing for medical malpractice. By reviewing this guide, you can make sure you have a case before you start the practice.
Keep reading to learn more about what to consider before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit!
What is Medical Malpractice?
First, it’s important to understand how a medical malpractice lawsuit differs from other cases.
Almost 10% of all deaths each year in the country are the result of medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or another medical professional fails to competently perform their duties, thereby causing their patient harm. Each state has its own rules regarding medical malpractice. It’s important to understand your own state laws before pursuing a case.
For example, some states require you to notify the doctor ahead of time. There are also broad categories of rules and principles that apply to these cases. Speaking with an experienced medical malpractice attorney can help ensure you cover your bases before pursuing a case.
Requirements for Making a Claim
Now that you understand a little more about medical malpractices case, let’s discuss what you need to make your case.
A Previous Doctor/Patient Relationship
First, you need to provide proof that you hired the physician you’re suing. You can’t sue a doctor for advice they give you during a dinner party. Instead, you need a previous physician/patient relationship.
Did the doctor begin seeing and treating you? If so, it’s easy to prove the relationship.
At the beginning of the case, someone will likely ask when you first met the doctor. They might also ask how long you sought treatment from that physician. Questions about whether or not the relationship existed usually arise with cases that involve consulting physicians.
If the doctor didn’t treat you directly, you might have a difficult time proving the physician/patient relationship.
The Doctor’s Negligence
Feeling unhappy after a doctor’s visit isn’t enough to prove your doctor’s liable for medical malpractice. Instead, you need to prove the doctor was negligent in connection with your diagnosis or treatment.
To build a medical malpractice lawsuit, you first need to show the doctor caused you harm. You also need to show that a competent doctor wouldn’t have treated you the same way under the same circumstances.
The doctor doesn’t have to provide the best possible care. However, they do need to remain careful and reasonably skillful in the eyes of the law.
All states require you to have a medical expert present for your medical malpractice lawsuit. The medical expert will discuss whether or not the doctor provided the appropriate standard of medical care. If they didn’t they can show how the doctor deviated from that standard.
Negligence Caused the Injury
Most medical malpractices cases involve a patient who was already sick or injured. To build your case, you’ll need to prove that the doctor caused you harm, regardless of negligence.
Again, having a medical expert testify on your behalf will help prove whether or not the doctor’s negligence caused the injury.
The Injury Led to Damages
You can’t sue for malpractice if you didn’t suffer harm. When building your medical malpractice case, you’ll need to consider the type of harm you sustained. You can sue for:
- Physical pain
- Additional/unnecessary medical bills
- Lost work
- Lost earning capacity
- Mental anguish
Make sure to keep any documentation regarding your medical expenses, medications, and work expenses. If you missed days of work due to your injury, try to have documented proof of the time you missed as well. You can use this evidence to support your lawsuit.
Common Types of Medical Malpractice
There are different situations that fall under the umbrella of medical malpractice. For example, a doctor might fail to list the potential health risks associated with the medication they prescribe. A surgeon, on the other hand, might leave a medical sponge within the patient during surgery.
Here are a few common types of medical malpractice to consider when categorizing your lawsuit.
Failure to Diagnose
Did your doctor fail to diagnose an illness that a competent doctor would have instead? Maybe they made a different, inaccurate diagnosis that led you to take the wrong medication. Either situation might have led to a better outcome if the doctor diagnosed your illness properly.
You might have a medical malpractice claim if your physician failed to accurately diagnose your condition.
Did your doctor treat you differently than another physician would have? If so, you likely have a medical malpractice claim. You might also have a claim if the doctor selected the correct treatment by administered in incompetently.
Again, your case hinges on proving the doctor’s negligence.
Failure to Provide Proper Warnings
It’s your doctor’s job to warn you of all possible risks associated with a procedure, treatment, or medication. This responsibility is referred to as the duty of informed consent.
Would you have decided not to undergo a specific procedure if you knew about the risks? If you were injured by the procedure in a way your doctor could have anticipated, you likely have a claim.
Remember, some states have special rules and procedures regarding medical malpractice cases. These include:
- The statute of limitations (the time period you have to file the lawsuit after you’re injured)
- Submitting your claim to a special medical malpractice review panel
- Giving the doctor notice of the claim in the form of a description before you officially file
- Expert testimony
- Limits on damage awards
You can discuss the special requirements specific to your state with your attorney.
Don’t Go Through It Alone
You don’t have to navigate the complexities of a medical malpractice claim alone. Consider gaining advice or representation from an experienced medical malpractice lawyer.
Make sure to find an attorney who specializes in your type of case. That way, you can leverage their previous experience to make your case.
Know Before Filing: Everything You Need Before Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Understanding the intricacies of a medical malpractice lawsuit can prepare you for the path ahead. By reviewing this list, you can gather the evidence you need and equip yourself to make your case.
Remember, you don’t have to go it alone. Instead, hire an attorney with years of medical malpractice case experience under their belt. Contact us today to request a free consultation!