Medical professionals owe their patients quality care and treatment and must do their utmost to avoid harming a patient in any way, accidentally or otherwise. Unfortunately, medical malpractice is quite common, so much so that medical negligence has been considered the third leading cause of death in the United States. Medical malpractice occurs when a hospital, doctor, or another health care professional causes an injury to a patient through a negligent act or omission. Malpractice is the most common reason to file a lawsuit against a doctor, but in order to win a medical malpractice case, a few things must be proven.
First, medical malpractice requires a violation of the standard of care. These are basic medical standards that are professionally recognized, and while standards may change depending on the circumstances, medical experts are always expected to adhere to the standards for each procedure. Second, a successful medical malpractice claim must demonstrate that injury was done to the plaintiff due to negligence. An unfavorable outcome by itself or a violation of the standard of care alone does not prove malpractice.
What is medical malpractice?
Malpractice happens in many forms which may include misdiagnosis or a failure to diagnose a condition, misinterpreting or ignoring test results, performing unnecessary surgery, surgical errors, failing to recognize symptoms, providing subpar aftercare, discharging patients prematurely and other medical errors.
It’s important to understand that medical malpractice claims are extremely time-consuming and costly to pursue, and healthcare providers are well-protected by teams of lawyers. Because of this, winning a lawsuit usually requires the plaintiff to prove that they suffered significant damages such as a serious injury, disability, loss of income, unusual suffering/undue emotional distress, or significant additional medical bills due to the poor quality of medical care they received. If you believe you’ve been a victim of medical malpractice and would like to pursue litigation, you’ll need seasoned medical malpractice attorneys to represent you. Most personal injury attorneys will meet with you for a free consultation regarding a potential case.
What are your next steps?
Your medical malpractice lawyer will need to prove that you had an established doctor-patient relationship before the medical errors or negligent actions took place. This prevents people from suing doctors for simply giving perceived bad advice. Your attorney also needs to prove exactly how your doctor’s negligence led to each specific injury. Obtaining your medical records from your doctor’s office may be able to help with this.
It’s important that you start a medical malpractice case as soon as you can because of the statute of limitations, which is usually between six months and two years. In some states, the countdown starts as soon as the negligent act occurs while in others it may not begin until the injury is discovered. If you fail to file the lawsuit before the statute of limitations is up, the case will be thrown out. You’ll also need to go through a medical malpractice review panel where medical experts will discuss whether they believe malpractice actually occurred. If they don’t, your case may be thrown out before going to court.
How do you serve papers?
Every lawsuit requires that the plaintiff serves papers to the defendant explaining what the suit is about so the defendant may adequately defend themselves. You may get your attorney to serve the paperwork, but they’ll need to locate your doctor. They may do this by contacting his or her medical secretary. While they won’t reveal that the purpose is a medical malpractice lawsuit during the phone call, they may learn how to contact your doctor this way. They may also serve your doctor through the mail if they have a correct address.
Have you ever wondered can you be served court papers at work? The answer is yes. Papers can always be delivered court documents via personal service at any time. Once papers are served, the next step will be for your doctor and/or representatives to appear in court and respond.