First Steps in a Medical Malpractice Claim
Medical malpractice cases happen when patients experience a personal injury during medical treatment. How do you know if a medical care provider was negligent? In legal terms, medical negligence is the failure to provide proper care. Medical negligence asks whether a patient would have received the same quality of care from another doctor under similar circumstances.
The majority of healthcare providers aim to exercise the highest standard of care for all patients, but mistakes happen. You or a loved one may have a medical malpractice claim if you suffer a personal injury due to:
- Poor or improper medical care
- Lack of consent
- Breach of doctor-patient confidentiality
Below are some basic first steps in bringing a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Contact the Medical Professional Involved
Before you file a medical malpractice case, contact the doctor or medical professional who caused your injury. Explain what happened and see if they can fix it. In most cases, medical providers are willing to perform services, sometimes free of charge, to correct a problem or provide a solution.
Contact the Relevant Medical Licensing Board
If contacting the medical professional does not help the situation, you or your lawyer should contact the licensing board that governs medical licenses.
While licensing boards cannot order doctors to compensate you for medical bills, they can issue warnings. Licensing boards can also discipline the practitioner.
Know How Long You Have To File a Claim
When deciding whether to file a medical malpractice claim, it is important to find out the amount of time you have to legally bring the claim.
All civil claims, including medical malpractice cases, have time limits on when they must be filed. In legal terms, time limits are called statutes of limitations. These limits require you to file your claim within a certain time period.
Depending on where you are, the clock starts either when the injury occurred or when you reasonably should have discovered your injury. Once time is up, you lose the ability to recover money and non-economic damages for your injuries. Check the statutes of limitation in your state to ensure that you do not miss the deadline to file your claim.
Get a Medical Assessment To Confirm Your Case Has Merit
In medical malpractice law, some states require patients to file a certificate of merit before or at the time they file suit. A certificate of merit provides some evidence that the injuries you suffered were a result of a healthcare professional's negligence. To obtain one, contact an expert witness, usually another physician. The expert witness will review your medical records and give an expert opinion.
The expert will certify that the healthcare provider did not use accepted medical practices and caused your injuries. Your attorney will file the certificate of merit. This confirms that you spoke with a medical expert and that your medical malpractice claim has merit.
Consider an Out-of-Court Settlement
Medical malpractice cases can be costly and take a long time. This is the reason why most cases settle out of court.
While medical malpractice insurance companies reject a large number of medical malpractice claims, it may be in your best interest to try to settle out-of-court or risk recovering nothing at trial.
Thinking of Filing a Medical Malpractice Case? Get Help From an Experienced Attorney
Finding a qualified medical malpractice attorney is important when suing medical professionals. Insurance companies are very difficult to fight on your own. They are usually unwilling to pay patients, even if it is obvious that the injury was the doctor's fault. An experienced attorney will make a huge difference in your case.
A medical malpractice lawyer will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your case. And help you plan a course of action. FindLaw's attorney directory is a great place to seek legal advice from a medical malpractice attorney.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
Contact a qualified medical malpractice attorney to make sure your rights are protected.