It’s never a pleasant experience when medical malpractice causes damage to your health and career.
You may have gone in for a routine operation, only to come out with long-term pain and suffering—not to mention the financial struggle that can come with it.
If you think you’ve encountered medical negligence, then it’s time to consider taking legal action.
Read on for the steps you need to know in order to sue a doctor for malpractice.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is defined as any act or omission by a medical professional that deviates from accepted standards of practice, resulting in harm to the patient.
- Failure to diagnose an illness
- Improper treatment
- Making mistakes during surgery or other treatments
- Prescribing incorrect medications
- And failing to obtain informed consent.
If you have suffered an injury due to the negligence of a doctor or other medical professional, you may be able to sue them for malpractice.
What are the Three Types of Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice takes many forms, but the three most common types are:
- Failure to diagnose: This occurs when a doctor fails to identify a medical condition correctly and/or promptly.
- Improper treatment: This happens when a doctor prescribes an incorrect medication or provides inappropriate care.
- Lack of informed consent: This happens when a doctor fails to provide enough information so that the patient can make an informed decision about their treatment.
It’s important to note that these are not the only types of medical malpractice; there are many other examples, including birth injuries, medication errors, and botched surgery.
Medical Malpractice Examples
Medical malpractice can have devastating consequences and impact your physical and emotional health.
While medical malpractice seems rare, it occurs far more often than you may expect.
Here are three famous examples of medical malpractice cases:
- In 1997, a woman who underwent surgery to treat her carpal tunnel syndrome was left with permanent nerve damage when a doctor operated on the wrong nerve. She eventually won a settlement of $7 million from the hospital.
- In 2004, famous singer Michael Jackson was given an overdose of anesthesia during plastic surgery, leading to a heart attack from which he never recovered. His family sued the hospital and doctor for medical malpractice, settling out of court for an undisclosed sum.
- In 2010, actor Dennis Quaid and his wife sued a hospital after their newborn twins were given 2 doses of heparin. The mistake was caught in time, but the couple had to deal with the emotional repercussions.
These are examples of how severe medical malpractice can be—and why you should know your legal rights if you encounter it.
Steps to Starting a Lawsuit for Medical Malpractice
Legal cases can be intimidating and complicated, so it’s essential to be prepared before you start a lawsuit for medical malpractice.
If you think you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice, here are the steps you need to take to start a lawsuit.
Step 1: Get the Facts
When suing a doctor for medical malpractice, you must first get your facts straight.
To do this, there are a few tasks you must complete:
- Researching your legal rights
- Gathering evidence supporting your cases, such as medical records and appointment notes
- Consulting with an experienced medical professional who can help evaluate the care you received,
- And understanding what kind of lawsuit you should file.
These actions will give you the information you need to judge whether or not taking legal action against your doctor is feasible.
Being informed on all fronts will get you one step closer to obtaining justice – so don’t forget that doing your homework is an essential part of the process!
Step 2: Contact the Medical License Board
Suppose you are considering taking legal action against a doctor for medical malpractice, but feel uncomfortable contacting the medical professional directly.
In that case, contacting the licensing board that governs their professional license may be beneficial.
Licensing boards generally can’t order the doctor to compensate you; however, they can issue warnings or even disciplinary actions if your doctor does not meet specific standards of care.
Furthermore, they can provide guidance and advice about your next steps should you pursue legal action.
Step 3: Know How Long You Have to File a Claim
When deciding whether to sue a doctor for medical malpractice, it’s essential to dig deep into the specifics surrounding your state’s statutes of limitations.
- Statutes of Limitations stipulate that medical malpractice claims must be filed within a specific window.
- This period may be either from when the injury occurred or when you should have reasonably known about your injury.
While laws differ state by state, you risk forfeiting your right to seek monetary damages for any harm caused by malpractice if you do not file your claim within this period.
It is essential to ensure you are aware of the legal deadlines set by your particular state, so you do not miss them and rob yourself of the ability to recover.
Step 4: Get a Medical Assessment
Many states now require you to file a certificate of merit before you can take legal action against a doctor or other healthcare professional for medical malpractice.
A certificate of merit is a written opinion from an independent medical expert that indicates the care provided by the defendant doctor fell below accepted standards and was likely to have been a cause of the patient’s injuries.
You may need a medical assessment from your physician or another qualified healthcare provider to obtain this document.
This assessment will:
- Provide an independent evaluation of the care you received
- Whether it was below acceptable standards
- And how this malpractice may have caused your injury.
Once this is done, your attorney will file the certificate of merit with the court, and your lawsuit will proceed.
While it may be intimidating to sue for medical malpractice, filing a certificate of merit is vital if you believe you were wronged.
Step 5: Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney
When suing a doctor for medical malpractice, one of the most important aspects is finding a qualified attorney who can build your case.
An experienced attorney can
- Evaluate your situation and discuss the potential risks and opportunities.
- Advise you on legal strategies for moving forward based on the evidence presented.
The ability to navigate this highly-regulated area of law requires expertise and perseverance to receive compensation for injuries suffered due to medical negligence.
An experienced medical malpractice attorney is essential in ensuring you get the justice you deserve.
Are Medical Malpractice Cases Hard to Win?
When suing a doctor for medical malpractice, many people feel anxious and overwhelmed by the legal process.
However, despite popular opinion, not all medical malpractice cases are hard to win – they just require proper research and preparation.
By gathering evidence of negligence and following through on each step outlined above, you can increase your chances of winning your case.
Ultimately, if it is clear that a healthcare professional was negligent and caused injury or harm to their patient, the courts are likely to hand down a successful verdict in favor of the patient.
Suing a doctor for medical malpractice can be a long and complex process, but it’s important to remember that you deserve justice for any harm you have suffered due to negligence.
No matter how daunting the process may seem, you can take comfort in knowing that because of your efforts, justice will be restored, and you will be able to hold those responsible accountable.
Now we’d like to hear from you; have you ever had to sue a doctor for medical malpractice? How did your case turn out? Please share your story with us in the comments section below.