A malpractice attorney should be able to take your case if you fulfill four conditions.
First, one should prove that the medical practitioner or the hospital offering professional care had a legal duty of care.
Second, there was a breach of this duty of care through acts of negligence and disregard of standards expected from a medical professional.
Third, as a result of this breach, an injury or death occurred.
Lastly, the injury resulted in damage such as pain and suffering, loss of mobility, etcetera.
In this article, we shall define the term medical malpractice and the acts that lead to it.
Additionally, the article also offers advice on how to get a malpractice attorney to successfully build a strong case.
What is medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice is any act or omission committed by a medical practitioner during the treatment of a patient that causes further injury and damage to a patient.
These acts or non-performance of acts, by a medical practitioner or the hospital in charge of a patient, are usually below the threshold or standard of care expected of medical practitioners.
Medical malpractice, as a concept, traces its way back to 2030 BC, when the Code of Hammurabi provided that:
“If the doctor has treated a gentleman with a lancet of bronze and has caused the gentleman to die, or has opened an abscess of the eye for a gentleman with a bronze lancet, and has caused the loss of the gentleman’s eye, one shall cut off his hands.”
What is my recourse for medical malpractice?
As a result of such medical malpractice, patients will usually initiate lawsuits against doctors, nurses, hospitals, or all of them together.
Such lawsuits will usually be tried under State and not Federal rules.
Therefore, they are bound to State laws. Hence, it is key to consult a medical malpractice attorney to guide you through your case.
However, in some cases, malpractice claims can involve the federal government. For example, where the injury was sustained at a federally funded clinic or a Veteran’s Administration facility- such claims should thus be filed at a federal district court.
A State’s statute of limitations legislation will determine the period within which to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
- In the State of New York, such claims must be filed within 30 months of an injury-causing event.
- In California, a complainant must file a suit one year after discovering an injury or three years from the date of the injury.
- Comparatively, in the States of Pittsburgh and Texas, medical victims need to file their cases within 2 years after the date of the injury.
It is therefore important to consult a malpractice attorney, as they may be able to determine if your case is time-barred.
So, how can a malpractice attorney aid your case?
A malpractice attorney will usually possess the requisite expertise to help you file your medical malpractice claim.
The attorney will help you file your claims after exhausting the possible options available.
Some of the options available to a person who experiences further injury due to medical malpractice include:
- Contacting the medical practitioner or the health care facility for discussions about the injury and any solutions arising.
- To initiate the investigation, they should lodge a complaint with the medical licensing board of the state where the malpractice happened.
- Enquiring from an impartial medical expert about a review of the injury. This step is meant to investigate if the physician or hospital acted per the professional ethos.
Once one has exhausted the three options above, one should seek the services of a malpractice attorney who can help build a strong lawsuit.
Advantages of having a malpractice attorney for your case
A malpractice attorney will usually be an expert in medical and state laws.
Additionally, the malpractice attorney is aware of the necessary documentation and court process, thereby increasing the likelihood of one’s case being successful.
It is also important to have a malpractice attorney represent your lawsuit, as they may advise on the proper forum for hearing your case.
For example, in some limited circumstances, a medical malpractice case should happen at a federal court. Such an instance can occur where the subject of the case invokes a federal question or federal constitutional issue or if the parties live in different states.
Picking the right malpractice attorney for your lawsuit or claim
Therefore, if you have experienced harm due to medical error, you might wonder how to engage a malpractice attorney.
Medical malpractice lawsuits are intricate and demanding, and not every attorney is equipped to handle them.
Nevertheless, certain measures can boost your chances of finding a proficient malpractice attorney who can aid you in securing the rightful compensation.
To pick the right malpractice attorney for your case, it is important to do the following:
Conduct Thorough Research
Initiate your lawsuit by conducting thorough research on experienced malpractice attorneys within your locale.
Online directories like Super Lawyers or Enjuris might help to find the right attorney who specializes in medical malpractice law.
In addition, one can also seek referrals from trusted friends, family, or legal professionals.
The criteria for picking a malpractice attorney should be:
An ability to Identify attorneys with a successful history handling cases similar to yours while looking out for attorneys with favorable reviews and endorsements from previous clients.
Prepare for Consultation
After shortlisting potential malpractice attorneys, it is important to reach out to them and arrange a free consultation.
This consultation session provides an opportunity to talk about your case and assess the attorney’s compatibility with your needs.
Before attending the consultation session, be sure to:
- Assemble pertinent documents like medical records, bills, correspondence, and photos supporting your claim. It is also important to have a certificate of merit, which is issued by the necessary authority after filing a complaint
- Draft a concise overview of your medical history, treatment, injury, and its impact on your life.
- Compile a list of queries addressing the attorney’s experience, fees, strategy, and expectations.
- Communicate openly and transparently about your situation and objectives.
Pose Relevant Questions
During the consultation, direct pertinent questions to the malpractice attorney to gauge their suitability for your case.
Additionally, do not hesitate to inquire from the attorney about:
- Their tenure practicing medical malpractice law.
- Previous cases that are similar to yours that they have successfully handled.
- Strengths and vulnerabilities of your case
- Their methodology for determining claim value.
- Estimated duration for case resolution.
- Communication protocol during the process.
- Fee structure and associated expenses
- References or testimonials from past clients.
Compare and Make an Informed Decision
After meeting with multiple malpractice attorneys, evaluate their responses and overall impression.
Always choose the one that aligns best with your requirements and expectations.
It is important to Consider the following factors:
- The attorney’s professional qualifications, experience, and specialization in medical malpractice law. You can check if the attorney is recognized by The National Trial Lawyers and/or certified by the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys.
- Reputation and success rate of the attorney in similar cases.
- Personality and communication approach.
- Fee structure and associated costs. Some attorneys will represent clients on a contingency basis. Meaning that the attorney will be paid once you receive a settlement.
- Accessibility and responsiveness.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a medical malpractice lawsuit?
This is a type of legal claim that a person or their estate can file seeking damages caused by medical negligence.
This type of claim can either be filed against a doctor, a hospital, or both.
The suing patient must prove that the doctor did not act with the level of skill and standard of care expected of a medical professional.
What are examples of situations that lead to medical malpractice?
Some of the common medical errors include:
- Prescription errors
- Faulty medical devices
- Birth injuries
- Surgical errors such as leaving foreign objects inside the patient’s body or nerve damages
- Post-treatment complications and infections
- Diagnosis errors such as misdiagnoses and delayed diagnoses
- Informed consent failure
Can an attorney reject my malpractice claim?
Depending on the damages sought, an attorney can refuse to handle your case.
Some attorneys will only handle claims that can amount to $250,000 in damages.
It is important to know that medical malpractice lawsuits are a relatively common occurrence.
As already stated, an injured person or the family of the dead person needs to prove that the medical practitioner acted negligently with undue professionalism while a patient was under their care.
Due to the negligent actions when giving professional care, injuries resulted causing economic or noneconomic loss to the affected person.
Acquiring an experienced malpractice attorney for one’s case significantly increases the chance of a successful lawsuit.
To build a successful lawsuit, a malpractice attorney will prepare your case by conducting diligent research and combining the relevant evidence.