How to Know if You Have Grounds for a Medical Malpractice Suit?
Doctors, surgeons, and other healthcare professionals dedicate their entire careers to caring for others. While they are focused on helping others and even saving lives, there are always situations when a procedure will not go well, or someone does not get the care that they need. In some cases, if someone does not receive proper care or their condition worsens as the result of actions by a healthcare professional, filing a malpractice claim could make sense. There are some basic requirements that need to be met in order for you to have grounds to file a malpractice lawsuit.
Formal Relationship with Healthcare Provider
One of the first factors to consider is whether you had a formal relationship with your healthcare provider. If you received direct care from a doctor in a clinic or hospital, you will have formally engaged this healthcare professional. In these situations, you will have grounds to file a claim if you received poor care. However, if you simply received consultation in a less professional setting, your malpractice claim may not be supportable.
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There Was Negligence and it Resulted in Injury
While most people would assume that their doctor will provide the best care possible, they are only human, and they may not provide the exact outcome that you were expecting. While this may be disappointing, it is not necessarily negligence. A doctor’s care is expected to be reasonably careful and skillful. If their care does not meet these standards, it could end up being considered negligence. Since proving negligence can be challenging, it often makes sense to have a doctor or other healthcare professional review the medical reports to determine if negligence occurred.
Even if there is negligence that occurs during a procedure, it may not necessarily still result in an appropriate malpractice claim. For you to claim malpractice, you will also have to prove that the negligence resulted in injuries. If you were already injured or highly at risk for certain injuries before the procedure, it may be harder to prove that the doctor’s negligence resulted in your ultimate outcome.
Doctor Failed to Diagnose
When most people think of a malpractice claim due to negligence, they assume that the case was related to an error that the doctor made during a procedure or while administering care. However, doctors can also be held liable and negligent if they fail to diagnose a medical issue that should have been found. If you can prove that a doctor should have been easily able to identify a medical concern at a certain point and the lack of diagnosis led to injury or further medical challenges, the doctor may be found negligent and you could have grounds for a malpractice suit.
Doctor Did not Warn About Risks of Procedure
In many cases when someone is hurt or ill, they will go in to see a doctor to get their recommendation. If the doctor determines that you need a certain procedure, it is up to them to describe it to you and give an overview of what the risks are. This assessment should also carefully consider any additional personal risk factors that you may have. If the doctor does not describe the risks properly and a procedure goes poorly, the doctor could be found liable for malpractice as they did not properly warn a patient about risks of a procedure.
The Injuries are Specific and Appropriate Claim Amount Can Be Determined
If you are going to claim make a malpractice claim, it is very important that you are able to clearly identify what the injuries are and how much they have or will cost you in the future. The injuries that you can claim can include physical pain, emotional pain and suffering and stress. You should then identify what the related costs to the accident will be. These costs can include your direct medical bills and future lost wages. The more that you are able to prove that you are suffering a loss, the easier it will be to create a malpractice claim. It is important to remember that some states do have caps on how much money will be awarded in a malpractice claim.
Other Considerations for a Successful Claim
Once you have determined whether or not you have grounds for a malpractice suit, you will need to prepare your case and ensure it is filed on time. Filing a malpractice suit requires specific steps to be followed and having certain forms of evidence and review before the case will be heard.
Timeline for Filing Malpractice Suit
Similar to filing any other type of lawsuit, there is a statute of limitations in which a malpractice claim can be filed. Depending on where you want to have this filed, you may have as little as six months following the accident. Due to this, it is important that you start the process as soon as you can.
Medical Expert Review
Proving negligence in any capacity is always challenging as it is somewhat subjective. Due to this, you will need to have your malpractice claim evaluated by a third part expert before filing the lawsuit. A doctor or other expert will be able to review all medical records to determine whether or not a doctor was negligent in the way that they handled your case. This review will also be an important form of evidence when the case is negotiated or heard in court.
After you have had your expert witness review the case, the next step may be to have it reviewed by a medical panel. These panels are made up of healthcare professionals that review medical malpractice claims. They will review your medical reports and the assessment completed by your expert witness. The panel may then ask a variety of questions or ask for more information before making a conclusion. If the panel determines that there are grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit, they will give the support and approval for it to move forward. The panel does not make a final judgment or award damages.
If you believe you have grounds for a medical malpractice suit, it is always a good option to have an attorney by your side. Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers can provide you with a variety of services including an initial consultation on your case. If you engage Wapner Newman for your medical malpractice lawsuit needs, the team can provide you with a variety of services to ensure that your case is heard, that your rights are represented, and you receive the compensation and support that you are entitled to.