How Do I Get Started Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Were you injured because of the negligence of a doctor or other medical professional? Were you the victim of a surgical error, misdiagnosis, or other type of malpractice? In order to get the compensation you deserve following this type of situation, it is important that you notify the proper authorities and ensure that the guilty party is held accountable for what they have done. If these situations are overlooked or ignored, it will only result in more people having to suffer needlessly.
Following a case of medical malpractice, it can be confusing to know exactly how to get started. In fact, out of all the civil liability cases, medical malpractice is by far the most complicated. This alone is reason enough to involve a legal professional in your case. Having an advocate on your side could make all the difference in the outcome of your case. They could help you navigate through the complex laws and legal processes and fight to uphold your best interests along the way. Another reason the first step you should take is to involve an attorney is because that will also be the first step of the negligent party. As hospitals do not want to have to pay out sums of money following a case of medical malpractice, they will most likely have their own team of defense lawyers. In order for you to have the best possible chance to receive justice, you need to be as prepared as they are.
Another important element that must be established before filing a medical malpractice claim is to make sure your case meets all of the legal requirements. An attorney could help you discover whether or not your case meets the four basic criteria of a medical malpractice lawsuit. First is duty of care. It will have to be established that the doctor, nurse, or hospital owed the patient a duty of care. This will be true of all cases in which there was a professional doctor-patient relationship. The second aspect that must be present is that the individual acted negligently. There is a standard of accepted care which doctors must adhere to. If it can be proven that the doctor did not act in such a way that other doctors would have acted in the same situation, this could be a case of negligence.
Once the doctor-patient relationship has been established and negligence has been proven, it will also have to be shown that the patient suffered some type of injury. Keep detailed records of any symptoms, follow-up medical treatment, etc. so that you will have proof that you suffered. The last step is to clearly show the link between the doctor's negligence and your injury. Any of these elements can be difficult to prove and is often a grey area. You may need to have expert testimony proving that your injuries were the result of the doctor's actions and that the doctor's treatment fell below the reasonably accepted standard of care.
After determining that you do have a medical malpractice case that meets the required criteria, a medical doctor will have to sign a certificate of merit. The sad truth is that there are far too many medical errors to be able to handle them all in court. For this reason, the courts have required that a medical doctor examine prospective cases and sign that it is deserving of a court hearing. It is only after all of these steps have been completed that the actual medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed. The doctor and hospital will be notified regarding your intentions, at which time they will begin to do everything in their power to build their defense case.
After filing the lawsuit, you may be offered a settlement. It is most often in the best interests of both parties to settle the issue outside of court, due to the high fees and lengthy time it would add. If, however, taking the case to court is the only way to get the compensation you deserve, then this option should be pursued. Depending on how strong the hospital and their defense team believes your case to be, the amount they offer could either be small or large. If you have a strong attorney on your side, you could ensure that you have the best possible chance of receiving a large settlement.