Medical malpractice lawsuits are some of the most emotionally and legally challenging cases anyone can take, and yet such events are involved in as many as 20,000 lawsuits annually – plus leading to or causing the deaths of as many as 10 per cent of deaths in the US.
They are complex cases that do not always result in court action, which in fact applies to fewer than 10 per cent of all cases, but having competent legal representation is a key toward achieving a successful outcome.
The statistics are scary for those facing these issues, as can be seen from the details below –
Medical Malpractice: What should you know to protect yourself?
Medical malpractice cases involve multiple events that can cause injury or death. Among the many types of malpractice are the common misdiagnoses, or delayed diagnoses and birth injuries, defective medical devices, negligent treatment and so forth.
For example, if a doctor leaves a surgical instrument inside your body after surgery, it is medical malpractice and so too with an incorrect diagnosis. It is also medical malpractice if a nurse administers the wrong medication to you. There are a very wide variety of cases and sometimes the defendants in such a claim may vary and be multiple parties, so adding to the complexity of these cases.
A 2016 American Medical Association survey found that more than one-third, or 34%, of American doctors have been sued for medical malpractice. Nearly half (16.8 per cent) have dealt with two or more lawsuits, according to a recent study. Patient deaths are a factor in 32 per cent of malpractice cases involving medication and 18 per cent (nearly 1 in 5) of all other cases.
It is also important to remember that a medical malpractice case has generally a strict time limit upon taking action, depending upon the jurisdiction. This is something you need to check and comply with.
For instance in the case of a medical malpractice in hospital case in Los Angeles there is a need to file within one year of discovering the injury, or three years from the date that the injury occurs, whichever comes first.
In New York, the time limit is generally 30 months and it is vital to know what those time limitation are and determine who is at fault (hospital, local doctor, nursing staff etc).
Many lawyers who specialise in medical malpractice law will offer a free consultation and this is something you should obtain if you are taking a claim, where an experienced lawyer can review your situation and let you know if they think you have a strong case, in which case a legal case may be prepared on your behalf.
This is a complicated process and using an experienced lawyer is very important, as the medical and legal aspects of medical malpractice law is something unique in terms of the requirement for highly specialized advice and assistance. Check around, ask the local Bar Association and other lawyers who might best handle your case.
A medical malpractice lawsuit can be very costly, so you must ensure you have a strong case before proceeding and you should also ensure that your lawyer will work on a cointingent fee basis.
Among the key steps to take seek justice and compensation:
Seek medical attention
This is an obvious first step. Ensure that you are being treated for the negligence and whatever form of malpractice has occurred.
Gather records and evidence.
Once you have sought medical attention, you will want to start gathering records and evidence related to the case. This can include medical records, bills, receipts, and any other documentation you may have.
Speak to a medical malpractice lawyer
After you have gathered your records and evidence, the next step is to speak to a good medical malpractice lawyer, find the time limitation rules and work out how best to handle your claim. This is a crucial step in seeking justice and compensation, as a lawyer will be able to assess your case and advise you on the best course of action.
File a claim
If you decide to proceed with a medical malpractice claim, your lawyer will help you with the necessary paperwork. This can be a lengthy and complex process, but your lawyer will be there to guide you through it.
Go to court
In some cases, medical malpractice claims may need to be settled in court, although this will generally be a minority of cases. This is usually only the case if there is a dispute over the compensation amount.
But having an experienced malpractice lawyer will help achieve a settlement with any insurance company, assist with the negotiation process for any settlement and take the necessary legal action should that be necessary.
Further, many good malpractice law firms will also have either medical experts on staff or with whom they are associated so they can competently advise on your case and assist with the negotiation and/or legal action.
The Malpractice Takeaway
Medical malpractice can be a complex and daunting process, but by taking these steps, you can begin to seek the justice and compensation you deserve.
Finally, it is essential to be patient. These cases can take months or even years to resolve. However, if you believe you have been the victim of medical malpractice, it is important to take action and protect your rights.