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Can I Sue My Doctor?

Yes, you may be able to sue your doctor or other healthcare professional.

There are circumstances in which you may have a legal claim against your healthcare provider, including your doctor, for medical malpractice.

However, medical malpractice suits are expensive, hard to win, and present many challenges. So, if you believe you have a medical malpractice law claim, you should speak with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer in your area.

Medical Errors Account For Many Lawsuits

Medical errors happen, and the consequences can be devastating. Johns Hopkins University has reported that as of 2016, medical errors were the third leading cause of death in the United States, after cancer and heart disease.

Medical malpractice cases account for between 15,000 and 19,000 lawsuits filed each year. As many as one in every three clinicians is sued at least once in their lifetime, with some surgical specialties having an even greater chance of being sued.

Healthcare providers and their insurance companies have paid out billions for personal injury and wrongful death medical malpractice claims., but only a fraction of what they've collected in premiums.

Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim

In tort, medical malpractice claims are governed by state law. Malpractice is essentially the failure of a healthcare provider to exercise due care in connection with care during the medical treatment of a patient.

To establish malpractice, a person must show:

  • Duty of care, which exists in a doctor-patient relationship
  • Breach of that duty
  • Causation, which is the breach of duty directly caused an injury
  • Damages

A doctor or other medical professional must provide the same level of medical care as a reasonable medical professional in the community with the same or similar training and experience would. This may sound like a medical standard, but it is more of a legal one.

Most Common Reasons for Medical Negligence Claims

Medical negligence can occur in many different contexts, such as the doctor's office or a hospital emergency room after a car accident or similar circumstances.

Medical malpractice typically involves:

Challenges in Medical Malpractice Litigation

There are many challenges in medical malpractice litigation, two of which center on the importance of a medical expert.

First, in virtually every state, you cannot file a medical malpractice case unless you have had an expert review your medical records and certify under oath that you received negligent care. In some states, this is done by an affidavit. In others, you need to file a certificate of merit.

Second, you cannot have a medical malpractice case without having an expert witness willing to provide testimony on your behalf. Expert testimony must establish to a reasonable degree of professional certainty what the standard of care is and that your doctor breached it. Qualified medical professionals typically must practice in the same specialty as the doctor you are suing. They can be hard to find.

What Can You Recover?

To protect the medical profession, most states have imposed limitations on the damages you can recover in a malpractice case.

Most states allow you to recover your full economic damages such as lost earning capacity, emergency room costs, care providers, medical expenses, and other medical bills. Most states, however, limit the amount of non-economic damages from pain and suffering, mental anguish, and emotional distress with a damage cap.

Can I Sue My Doctor? Contact an Experienced Attorney

Medical malpractice lawsuits are tough to win. Patients lose approximately 82% of cases that go to trial. With the expert witness and certificate of merit requirements, they can be very expensive.

You can go with a general personal injury lawyer, but retaining an experienced medical malpractice attorney might be a better option. Cases arising out of a doctor's negligence are far more complicated than typical personal injury cases.

You'll benefit from developing an attorney-client relationship with a specialist. If you are contacted by an insurance company, do not try to negotiate with them on your own without a legal team on your side.

Remember the Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for medical malpractice suits differs from state to state, but they generally are short.

In some states, you have as little as a year in which to bring your claim. If you or a loved one are a victim of medical malpractice, you may be able to sue for medical malpractice.

To learn more about medical malpractice claims, get legal advice from a law firm promptly. Most medical malpractice lawyers provide an initial free consultation, and many provide a free case evaluation.

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Contact a qualified medical malpractice attorney to make sure your rights are protected.

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