Imagine going to a doctor expecting to get healed but instead getting even more injured. This may sound like an impossible scenario (aren’t doctors supposed to help?) but it occurs more often than you think. In 2018, a John Hopkins study claims that around 200,000 people in the US die every year because of medical errors.
This means that fulfilling the grounds to file a medical malpractice suit can be relatively common. If you are a victim of medical malpractice, here are a few ways you can prepare for your lawsuit.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, while treating or medicating a patient, causes injuries as a result of negligence. This includes cases of:
- Violations of a standard of care, where the doctor does not provide medical care that fits medical standards.
- Injuries caused by negligence, such as in cases of misdiagnosis, or errors in treatment or prescriptions.
- The injury causes significant damages or impairments in the patient, resulting in an inability to perform normal functions and which will require a high degree of compensation.
If your case fits one of these categories, you will likely be eligible to file a medical malpractice suit.
How to Prepare for Your Medical Malpractice Suit
A medical malpractice suit takes a lot of preparation and may drain your resources. Before you get into it, here are some things you need to do and know in order to come to court prepared.
- Communicate With the Health Professional
The first thing you should do, when you suspect a case of medical malpractice, is to contact the health professional involved. You can use this opportunity to gain an understanding of what exactly happened, if it was truly a medical error or if it is simply a negative side effect of your treatment. You can also find out if there is a way that the error or the injury caused can be fixed, and if they can provide that treatment for free.
- Approach Another Medical Professional
If you no longer trust your current health professional but still require medical support for your injuries, approach a different professional. Your first priority should still be to ensure that you explore all avenues to get healed. The next doctor will likely listen to your concerns, run their tests, and pinpoint what went wrong, and how they can help fix it.
- Request Medical Records
The next step is to request your medical records, which will compile information regarding your medical history, and the treatments you received. This is often highly instrumental in building your case against your doctor, who may have misdiagnosed your symptoms or treated you in a way that’s incompatible with your actual illness.
- Learn About How You Can Sue
Every state will have different rules regarding medical malpractice claims. Before you take further steps, make sure you know the statute of limitations, which is a limit that states you can only file suits of injuries that happened within that time frame. Check the regulations around this in your state to make sure that time hasn’t run out.
- Get a Certificate of Merit
Because there are so many instances of lawsuits happening in the US, you will likely have to get a certificate of merit to file your medical malpractice suit. This certificate takes the form of an affidavit, signed by a medical expert other than the doctor who treated you, that agrees with your claim of a medical malpractice issue.
The expert chosen may not necessarily have to testify for you in court, although it’s beneficial to have them do so if they are willing.
- Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Defending your medical malpractice suit against a doctor or a health professional is a difficult case. It will involve a lot more technical knowledge than usual because you are essentially trying to prove that a doctor did not perform his tasks well enough to help you.
Because of this, it’s necessary for you to contact a medical malpractice lawyer who can take on your case with expertise and the necessary experience. You would want someone who has dealt with medical malpractice cases that are similar to yours, so they know the best way to proceed and convince the jury to rule in your favor.
- Consider an Out-of-Court Settlement
The process of a court trial can be draining, both mentally and financially. If you don’t feel like you want to fully pursue the case in court, which can take months, you can ask your lawyer to negotiate for an out-of-court settlement with the other party. Chances are, if your case is strong enough, the other side will likely agree to this and provide you with a negotiated compensation amount.
Chasing a Medical Malpractice Case
Sustaining injuries as a result of a lack of professionalism on the part of your healthcare professionals is a situation that you should never find yourself in. If you do end up getting hurt, knowing your rights and knowing how you can vie for compensation is important so that you receive some help in recovering from the unfortunate event.
A medical malpractice suit can be especially hard to prove in court, which is why there are several steps to take to prepare yourself and your case. This involves talking to health professionals, hiring a lawyer, and obtaining the necessary documents to defend your case.
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