Accidents don’t only happen on the road, in homes, or at the workplace, they can also happen in a health facility. The same place that saves lives can also take a life or cause injury and harm to patients due to an accident, negligence of duty, or misdiagnosis. When such cases happen in the hospital, they are termed medical malpractice. Dealing with a medical malpractice case is very complex and you need evidence to win such cases. Like personal injury cases, your best bet for winning is to hire a competent lawyer through a personal such or by using an attorney referral service by a tried and tested firm.
What is medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice happens when a patient suffers harm, injuries, or even death due to a doctor’s or any medical professional’s negligence of duty. Such acts include the lack of proper care for a patient, wrong diagnosis or medication, improper treatment, causing further harm after surgery, or operating on the wrong part of the body, among several others.
Rules regulating medical malpractices vary from one state to the other. The number of days you have to file the complaint, and when to notify the medical professional or health facility involved are all dependent on the state laws. That notwithstanding, there are also general rules that govern such claims. One of the first things most supposed victims of medical malpractice do is to sue the parties involved. Yes, that is right, but before making such claims, you should be able to prove your case. Ideally, you will need an attorney to take you through the process; and there are some important things to consider when hiring a medical malpractice lawyer. Before making a negligence claim, you should meet the following requirements.
There was a doctor-patient relationship
Before making a claim, you should be able to prove that there was a doctor-patient or patient-hospital relationship. This means you had sought the services of the health facility and indeed the accused health professional handled your medical case. With this caveat, you cannot sue someone who was not directly involved in your medical treatment. If your doctor sought external advice from a third party in your treatment, you cannot sue that third party.
There was a breach of duty
The fact that you are unhappy about the type of care/treatment you received at a hospital, or still going through some pains doesn’t constitute medical malpractice. What if your own negligence or inability to follow instructions is responsible for whatever you are suffering? This is why your case must be established through investigations before making a claim.
There should be able to prove that the health professional caused the said harm during diagnosis or treatment. It should be also established that the doctor was not reasonably skillful and careful when discharging his/her duty. This would require a report from another medical expert.
Negligence caused the supposed harm
You were sick before going to the hospital and you may not have known the extent of that medical condition. Therefore, how sure are you that a doctor’s negligence caused that harm and not the result of your medical condition? As such, the patient must show without doubt that the doctor’s incompetence caused the injury, harm, or death of the family member.
How to seek redress or claim compensation
Like personal injury cases, victims of medical malpractice can use internal mechanisms or sue the health facility for compensation. However, there are strict rules to follow.
Report the case on time
Depending on the state’s laws, victims normally have a specific time frame (statute of limitation), which is between six months and two years to sue a medical facility or doctor for malpractice. Failure to meet the time frame would render your case invalid no matter its merits.
Send the evidence to a malpractice review panel
To establish a malpractice incidence, the patient needs a report from another medical expert, which is crucial for the establishment of a malpractice review panel. Afterward, the victim must submit the report and complaint to the malpractice review panel. The panel made up of experts and an attorney will review the evidence, and take testimonies from other medical experts to establish if the case has merits. Although the panel can’t award you damages, it is a hurdle to cross, before heading to court. You can use the review findings in court if a malpractice case was established.
Serve the defendant a notice
Before filing a court case, you should serve the defendant a notice of the claim describing the damages you seek.
How to get justice
After establishing a strong case and evidence and going through the required processes, you can take these steps to seek justice. In doing this, you need to
Talk to a malpractice lawyer
It will be extremely difficult to win a medical malpractice case or get the required compensation without an attorney. Before filing a case, you need to hire or consult an experienced medical malpractice lawyer for advice. Your lawyer would advise you on the best approach, whether to battle the case in court or reach an out-of-court settlement with the defendant.
Sometimes, it isn’t worth it to go through the long and expensive legal process, your attorney can negotiate with the health facility or doctor on how to settle the case. Some hospitals have their internal mechanisms and insurance packages to deal with malpractice cases. With a legal representative, you can get deserving compensation without going to court.