Getting Hurt In Caring Hands: What Constitutes A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
Every year, hospitals and healthcare facilities spend more than $3 billion in medical malpractice payouts. That works out to them delivering a payout approximately once every 43 minutes.
Clearly, a lot of people file medical malpractice lawsuits each year. It’s not always easy to tell if you have a malpractice case on your hands, though.
If you’re not sure if your situation warrants a malpractice lawsuit, keep reading. Explained below is some important information you ought to know about this type of lawsuit.
What is Medical Malpractice?
In the event that a hospital, doctor, or another health care worker causes an injury to a patient because of negligence or an act of omission, medical malpractice has occurred.
There are lots of different ways in which a physician or other professional could injury a patient.
They might cause a physical injury or illness, for example, or they could make an incorrect diagnosis or administer ineffective or dangerous treatment because they overlooked an important aspect of their patient’s case.
When to File a Malpractice Lawsuit
It’s not always clear when it makes sense to file a malpractice lawsuit. In order for a case to be considered malpractice, it has to meet some specific criteria, including the following:
Violates the Standard of Care
A medical professional must meet certain standards when providing care to a patient.
If you believe that your physician (or another medical professional) did not meet these basic standards, then you may have a case of negligence and malpractice on your hands.
An Injury Occurred Because of Negligence
You’ll also need to be able to prove that an injury occurred because of the medical professional’s negligence.
It’s not enough for a negative outcome to have taken place. You also have to prove that the negligence caused the negative outcome.
The Injury Caused Significant Damage
For you to have a viable case, you to show that the damaged caused by the injury and the medical professional’s negligence are significant.
If the cost of pursuing the case is greater than the cost of treating the injuries, it likely won’t be in your best interest to pursue a lawsuit.
In addition to meeting these basic criteria, there are some other requirements your case may need to meet depending on your state. Some common requirements include the following:
Statute of Limitations
Potential medical malpractice cases need to be brought up as soon as possible. The longer you wait before taking action, the less likely you are to have your case taken seriously.
Most states also have limits on how long you can wait before you make a claim. Usually, you have to make your claim with six months to two years of the injury.
In many states, you have to submit your claim to a medical malpractice review panel first. They will hear arguments, review evidence, and decide whether malpractice actually occurred.
Often, as a patient, you have to give the medical professional against whom you’re filing the lawsuit notice. You’ll have to do this before you file your claim.
In most cases, a testimony from a medical expert is required. They’ll help verify your claims and prove that malpractice did occur.
Limits on Damage
There are often limits on the money that a healthcare facility can award to you. Each state has a different cap that they place on damage payments.
What to Do if You’re a Victim of Malpractice
If you believe that your case meets these requirements and constitutes medical malpractice, it’s important for you to take action right away. The following are some specific steps you ought to take if you’re a victim of medical malpractice:
Seek Treatment from Another Doctor
If you’re a victim of medical malpractice, your health ought to be your first priority. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself and getting the help you need. Reach out to another doctor or health care professional and seek treatment for your injury or illness before doing anything else.
Request Medical Records
Once your health is stable, be sure to request all medical records related to your injury or illness. This includes records from your current doctor and the doctor who caused the original issue.
Keep Your Own Records
It’s a good idea to keep your own records, too. Take pictures of your injuries and keep a journal. In your journal, write down how you’re feeling, the specific symptoms you’re experiencing, and whether things are getting better or worse.
Hire a Good Malpractice Lawyer
Be sure to hire a good medical malpractice lawyer, too.
It’s important to have someone on your side who knows a lot about the law and has a history of handling cases like yours. Look for someone who has worked on (and won) a lot of malpractice cases and sit down with them to talk about your case.
During the meeting (many lawyers offer a free initial consultation so you can get to know them), talk to the lawyer about your chances of winning the case and whether they recommend you proceed with pursuing it.
If they do, get more information on their fee schedule, others who might also work on your case, and what they need you to do moving forward.
Don’t Contact Other Parties
Be sure to avoid talking to the other parties involved in the case if you decide to pursue a lawsuit.
Your lawyer should communicate on your behalf when you’re talking to representatives from insurance companies, other lawyers, and anyone else who may be involved.
Find a Malpractice Lawyer Today
Now that you know more about medical malpractice and ins and outs of a medical malpractice lawsuit, do you think it’s in your best interests to file one?
If you’re still on the fence, it might be a good idea to talk to a malpractice lawyer anyway and find out what they think.
If you need help finding a malpractice lawyer, start by keeping the tips listed above in mind as you begin your search.
Be sure to use our free search tool, too. It’ll make it easier than ever for you to find qualified malpractice lawyers who practice in your area.