5 Things To Know Before Filing a Medical Malpractice Case

A few years ago a news report from MSNBC reported that medical malpractice was the third-leading cause of death in America, with the report saying that a John Hopkins study claiming that more than 250,000 people die every year from medical errors while some reports said that number could be as high as 440,000.

Whatever the figure, it is both astonishing and appalling at the same time.  The number of medical malpractice lawsuits conducted in the US is obviously huge and creates some major issues to confront by those facing such claims.

The National Trial Association has recent reported some key statistics relating to this major cause of deaths in the US, including –

>>The term “Never Event” was first introduced in 2001 by Ken Kizer, MD, former CEO of the National Quality Forum (NQF), in reference to particularly shocking medical errors—such as wrong-site surgery—that should never occur. (Patient Safety Network, 2019)

>>195,000 patients die in hospitals each year because of preventable mistakes. (Dr. George Stanislaw, 2019)

>>The top 5 malpractice allegations are from: diagnosis (33%), surgery (23%), treatment (18%), obstetrics (10%), and medication/anesthesia (10%). (MDMag, 2014)

>>The most common sources of medical malpractice claims from 2013 to 2017 were diagnostic errors. (CSU Fresno, 2019)

Medical malpractice occurs when a health-care provider deviates from the recognized “standard of care” in the treatment of a patient. The “standard of care” is defined as what a reasonably prudent medical provider would or would not have done under the same or similar circumstances. (Jason Konvicka, 2013) (Source: https://nationaltriallaw.com/medical-malpractice-statistics/)

What to Know Before Filing Medical Malpractice Case?

 

Medical malpractice issues obviously affect every State and some may be more frequent or severe that others, however this article is written from the perspective of  a Miami medical malpractice attorney

Whilst some of these concerns may be ‘Florida focused’ the overall considerations will apply anywhere there are medical malpractice issues to consider from a legal perspective, including the following five:  

1. Being on Time with your lawsuit filing

 

There is a timeline limitation on when the lawsuit can be filed. For instance, most of the states require victims of medical malpractice to file a lawsuit within 2 years after the incident has taken place. After 5 years have passed, lawsuits are usually barred. 

However keep in mind that for children and those with diminished mental capacity there will often be different time limitations upon the commencement of any legal action.  It is essential to know precisely what the time limit(s) are so that you are not statute-barred from commencing an action.

You need to also be aware that the time will run from the time when the negligence occurred or from the time when it became noticeable, once again necessitating good legal advice on what your limitation period requires and when it commences (see below).

Remember too that time creates problems for pursuing a successful claim for other reasons such as –

  • Witnesses and others who cannot remember the case details, as medical malpractice requires a lot of very detailed information about the claim. 
  • Documentation such as medical notes can be lost or destroyed and as hospitals are generally only required to hold their records and/or notes for a specific period they can be destroyed, thus making the lodging of a malpractice claim at an early date even more important. 

 

2. Be Aware That Medical Effects May Not be Apparent Immediately

 

The problem with victims of medical malpractice is that it may take one year to actually understand that there has been malpractice. When things go wrong medically, it may take several years for the symptoms to start for single negligence or wrong medical decision.

For example, a medical practitioner may wrongly diagnose you, it may lead to several treatments which are not really required and it may also cause the real problem to continue to exist. This can severely affect the quality of life which is something you deserve compensation for.

Getting the best evidence of medical malpractice and to determine the origins and causes is all part of the action and the timeframes that will determine whether you can make a claim.

3. Many types of Medical Malpractices Occur So Be Specific

 

Medical malpractice cases cover an extremely wide area and cases can involve something as basic as diagnosing wrong, administration of wrong medication leading to paralysis, or even death, errors made during surrey, or injuries during birth. When harm to the victim or injuries to the victim takes place due to some error of judgment of the medical practitioner.

The nature and type of medical malpractice is something that requires both expert medical and legal assistance to determine the case ‘specifics’ that let you mount a successful claim.

4. It is Not About Unsatisfied Customers – Know The Specifics of Your Case

 

It is to be understood that medical malpractice is not about unsatisfied customers. For example, if you don’t like the effect plastic surgery has on your face, you cannot say you deserve compensation. It may be that you are not satisfied with the result of medical treatment but that does not mean it is due to some negligence on the part of a medical practitioner.

Whether your case is a good one for medical malpractice is usually decided by a few factors. 

5. Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Are Complex Proceedings 

Another thing to understand about medical malpractice cases is that the process can be complex and long. Compensation doesn’t arrive very soon and you have to have the patience to go through the long haul. 

Medical malpractice claims are one of the most important claim types in terms of their numbers and complexities, requiring urgent attention to both time-frames and detail.  As medical practice becomes more complex and exacting with new developments, procedures, drugs and protocols the need to ensure your claim is properly executed is extremely important.

Source: Dolan, Dobrinsky, Rosenblum, Bluestein

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