When you go to a doctor you expect that he will diagnose your condition accurately and treat you appropriately so that you recover in the fastest possible time. Unfortunately, sometimes doctors end up making grievous mistakes that can result in more pain and suffering and even fatalities due to errors of judgment. Sometimes, caregivers and healthcare facilities also cause harm to their patients due to carelessness or greed. In such situations, patients can file a medical malpractice suit against the doctor, nurse, clinic, hospital, or whoever was responsible for the harm and suffering. However, since medical malpractice cases tend to be very complicated, time-consuming, and expensive, you need to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer specializing in such cases. Some useful tips for achieving better success in a medical malpractice lawsuit:
You Need to Know What Constitutes Medical Malpractice
Even though the variety of medical malpractice cases is huge, there has to be a couple of elements to establish that the claim is valid. You need to prove that you or a loved one received medical treatment well below an acceptable standard of care and that the negligent action by the medical service provider caused a serious and verifiable injury that would not have otherwise occurred. The most common medical errors are due to the failure to accurately diagnose the medical condition, improper treatment by which patients are given wrong treatment or medication, or even incorrect dosages of medicines, as well as failure to warn patients about possible side-effects of the treatment. It is not necessary that only physicians and surgeons commit medical malpractice. The negligence can also be at the hands of radiologists, nurses, anesthesiologists, pharmacists, clinics and hospitals, diagnostic labs, etc.
Medical Malpractice and Product Liability Are Not the Same, Observes Jonah Engler
While you may also be harmed due to a faulty medical device, the legal process for claiming damages is different from medical malpractice. If you can establish that you had been harmed due to the defective manufacture or design of a medical device, you can move against the manufacturer or distributor of the product in a product liability case for compensation. Typically, these medical devices include heart stents, pacemakers, defibrillators, breast implants, insulin pumps, spinal cord stimulators, artificial hip and knee joints, etc.
Keep in Mind the Statute of Limitations, Warns Jonah Engler
Every state has its legal statutes that define deadlines for filing suits against negligent parties or settling claims for personal injuries. If you do not comply with the deadline, your case will be automatically dismissed by the court and you forfeit your rights to seek compensation for medical negligence that may have resulted in serious harm or even the death of a loved one. It is even more important to appreciate that facilities run by the government or its agencies such as a county hospital are usually protected by the statute of limitations that can be as short as a few months after the occurrence of the injury. To compound matters, instituting a lawsuit against institutions run by the government can usually be complicated as well as perplexing, cautions Jonah Engler.
Hire an Attorney with the Right Kind of Experience and Competence, Advises Jonah Engler
It is very important to have a lawyer with the right kind of experience because not all lawyers have the capability to convince the jury or fight the battery of insurance company lawyers in complex medical malpractice cases that usually call for putting into play a large variety of experts in medical and other domains. This includes establishing the appropriate standard of care, identifying how your caregiver failed to meet the expected standard of care, reviewing your medical records and giving opinions on the extent and permanence of the injuries sustained by you due to the malpractice, etc. Additionally, financial experts may need to be called in to evaluate the financial impact, calculate the amount of future lost wages as well as establish the future value of the medical care required by you. Since medical malpractice suits are fought on a contingency fee basis, you need to make sure that your attorney has pockets that are deep enough to be able to afford the cost of court fees, hiring of the experts, discovery costs, cost of the accountants and administrative team, etc. According to Huffington Post, since rules regarding medical malpractice vary widely from one area to another, it is important to hire a lawyer who is familiar with the rules in the specific place where the incident has occurred.
Maintain Proper Medical Records, Advises Jonah Engler
Your medical records are the foundation on which a medical malpractice lawsuit can be established. This is the reason why you need to maintain proper records of your medical treatment, including all diagnostic reports, prescriptions, bills, etc. Additionally, your lawyer will embark on a process of requesting internal records of the hospital or medical facility or negligent doctor, which may even be backed by subpoenas, if required. Even medical records from healthcare providers who have no connection with your injury sustained due to medical negligence may be called for to establish the state of your health before the injury. It is, therefore, very important to provide your attorney a list of every medical provider that has attended to you along with as many details as possible on the dates of your appointment, admissions, and treatment, including diagnostic tests and instructions in writing, discharge papers issued by the ER or hospital, and any other correspondence with medical caregivers or hospital administrations.
Dealing with the consequences of medical negligence can be tough and depending on the fact of the case, you may be entitled to substantial compensation not only for the cost of treatment and the financial impact of the loss of employment but also for the emotional distress. Keeping exhaustive notes about your medical and emotional condition, including the symptoms, level of pain, the treatment that was undergone and recommended, and the impact of the injury on your ability to lead your life can be very helpful in establishing your claim for compensation.
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