Lawsuits from nurses may seem a reasonably improbable or infrequent basis for legal claims, but nurses are increasingly taking a stand against actions that could or do end their careers.
Just as nurses from overseas (mainly the Philippines) are suing for quitting nursing jobs that they find are underpaid compared to their US colleagues, so too nurses are fighting back for unjustified firings and other alleged transgressions.
These may include situations where surgery has not gone according to plan or nurse licence issues have arisen.
But what do nurses need to know about taking such lawsuits?
We spoke to California nursing lawsuit specialists SJ Harris Law who provide the necessary attorney for nurses legal support, to ask what the key factors are when taking such a lawsuit.
Here are the seven they recommend.
1. Get the Right Evidence
You need to have evidence that you’re innocent. If there’s no proof, then your case will be dismissed. For example, if you were accused of causing a patient’s death because of negligence, but there was no proof of this allegation, it would be difficult for you to win your case.
Substantial evidence types include:
- Photo evidence: It can be used to show a particular event, like a nurse administering medication to a patient.
- Video evidence: This shows the same things as photo evidence, but it’s more advanced and provides a better view of what happened.
- Written evidence: This can be used to show what happened, like when a nurse wrote down the dosage of medication she administered.
- Testimony: It’s the statement of an eyewitness who witnessed your actions on that particular day.
You can find more information related to medical malpractice legal issues in an article we published here.
2. Hire the Right Attorney
An experienced lawyer will know how to present your case in court and what evidence is needed for your defense. Medical malpractice, as we have written, is a uniquely complex area of law and to have an attorney or law firm experienced in the area is critical to lawsuit success. Be sure to find an attorney specializing in nursing law with experience handling cases like yours.
You can also consider asking these questions before deciding on an attorney:
- How long have they been practicing nursing law: It’s important to hire someone with experience in the field.
- Are they licensed: You should ensure that the attorney you are considering is properly certified and qualified for your case.
- How many cases have they handled similar to yours and what has the success rate been?
3. Understand State Laws
Nursing laws vary from state to state. You must understand the laws of your state before proceeding with the lawsuit.
For instance, some states may have a statute of limitations for filing medical malpractice lawsuits and ensuring that your case falls within the necessary limitation period is critical also.. Knowing these statutes will help you determine how to go about your case and avoid legal pitfalls.
4. Know Your Rights
Understanding this will help you make an informed decision when filing a lawsuit against somebody who has wronged you or if someone else is trying to take away your nursing license without cause.
Different state laws will have different requirements but whether you are facing a claim of medical negligence or some other incompetence or unprofessional conduct is something you need to be fully aware of so that you can properly defend yourself.
Once more, an experienced ‘nursing attorney’ will help with those issues.
5. Be Prepared
While gathering evidence and preparing for legal proceedings, take some time to reflect on the situation and prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for the process. While filing a lawsuit can be stressful, it’s important to remain positive throughout the process.
Preparing and a good legal support team will help in this process.
6. Stay Compliant
You must follow all court procedures carefully. This includes attending hearings, submitting required documents on time, and responding promptly to any requests made by the court or other parties involved in your case.
Neglecting these procedures could result in an unfavorable outcome for your lawsuit and ensuring you meet the necessary timetabling criteria and other requirements will stand you in good stead to succeed in the lawsuit.
7. Consider Mediation or Arbitration
Mediation or arbitration are alternative dispute resolution methods that can help resolve disputes without the hassle of a lengthy trial. These methods can be cheaper, faster, and less stressful than a trial and, once again, an experienced attorney can help with that process.