According to Modern Healthcare, the majority of medical malpractice claims are related to errors that are made during a patient’s diagnosis. If a correct diagnosis is delayed or missed altogether, the patient may have to endure unnecessary treatments or go without proper medical attention entirely. Either could cause irreparable harm and even death.
There are, of course, other reasons medical malpractice can occur, such as surgical or medication errors and childbirth injuries. For medical malpractice to be considered, multiple factors need to have been involved according to the law. That can include failure to provide the typical standard of care with an injury resulting from that negligence which causes significant harm like chronic pain and suffering, disability, loss of income, financial, and/or other hardships.
If you believe you or a loved one suffered from medical practice, you’ll want to follow these steps to receive compensation for the harm that was caused.
FIND THE RIGHT LAWYER
Hire a highly experienced medical malpractice lawyer, ideally someone who has specific experience in your type of case and a record of success. To start your search, reach out to your personal network of family and friends for referrals, or if you have an attorney working in another speciality, that person is likely to know other good attorneys who focus on medical malpractice. A bar association in your city, county, or state usually has tools to help you find a lawyer in particular specialities, but you won’t be able to get specific recommendations.
Once you have a list, you’ll want to set up a consultation, which is usually free. Sit down with each attorney who appears to be well-qualified to determine if you feel comfortable with them and ask specific questions, such as what percentage of their cases are solely devoted to medical malpractice. Will their firm cover upfront legal fees like document preparation, court filing fees, and expert witnesses, which would then be reimbursed by your settlement?
FILING THE LAWSUIT
Once you’ve hired your attorney, they will need to file a lawsuit in a court of law. The case must be filed within the period your state specifies which can be anywhere from six months to two years, otherwise it will be dismissed by the court no matter what the circumstances might be.
EVIDENCE TO PROVE THE CASE
Your attorney must prove that the facility, doctor or other healthcare professional was negligent by gathering evidence. During your consultation, the lawyer will go over the various types of necessary evidence such as medical records, photographs, and documents that show the physician or other medical provider failed to uphold his or her duty of care.
Proving that their negligence caused any losses and/or injuries can be challenging, which is why expert testimony often must be provided, unless it’s obvious, such as a surgical instrument being left inside of a patient.
SETTLEMENT OR TRIAL
Most cases are settled without going to trial which is preferable as that means the defendant has already agreed to pay a certain amount of damages to the injured party. With a trial, there is no way of knowing with any certainty what the outcome will be. The case will go to trial if a settlement can’t be reached.
During a trial, both parties will present arguments and introduce evidence, with experts testifying for each side to help the jury decide whether or not the defendant did in fact act negligently and if that negligence caused injuries to the plaintiff.
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