Seeing a doctor for any issue can be a frightening prospect. So when something goes wrong, it can feel like your worst nightmare has come true. You want your doctor to make things better, whether it’s through medication, surgery, or therapy. When it seems like they might have made things worse, your first thought might be how you can be compensated. Compensation won’t necessarily fix whatever it is that went wrong. But it could help you in other ways. It might pay for medical expenses or cover other costs, such as lost wages or care costs. However, medical malpractice cases are very complicated. If you think you might have a case, this guide could help you work out what to do next.
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Make Sure You’re Well
Before you make any moves, it’s a good idea to give yourself time to get well. Of course, you might have an illness or injury that isn’t going to go away. However, there are still many times when you might need to recover. Dealing with a possible medical malpractice case takes a lot of energy. Although you can get a lawyer on your side, you will still need to be involved. There are some things you should do before contacting an attorney too. It can require some determination. If you’re struggling to get through the day, it might be better to wait until you feel better. If necessary, seek any extra treatment you might need.
What Makes You a Victim?
Before you start dealing with a possible medical malpractice case, you need to decide if you have one. You can’t work it out entirely on your own because you need to get an opinion from a lawyer. However, you can look at the definition of medical malpractice. Spend some time thinking about whether your situation might fit it. Medical malpractice occurs when a medical practitioner causes illness or injury through their negligence. But it’s not as simple as it might sound. Just because you have had a bad result from an experience, it doesn’t mean it was malpractice. You might not have a case even if negligence occurred. For example, the medical provider might have apologized, or it might be settled out of court.
Contact the Medical Provider
If you think you might have a medical malpractice case, don’t jump straight to suing. The first thing you should do is contact the provider you used. To someone who isn’t in the know, this might seem like a bad idea. But by doing this, you can try to find out more about what happened. You should aim to gather information about what went wrong and why. It’s possible that they might offer to make things right with you. Many medical professionals are willing to fix any mistakes to avoid having to face a lawsuit. If your goal is to get the right treatment, taking this route will help to make things easier.
Contact the Licensing Board
The medical provider might not give you what you’re looking for. Some find that they haven’t secured a satisfactory outcome. If this is the case, the next step is to contact the licensing board. A medical licensing board can’t repair any mistakes, but there are other things they can do. For example, one of your goals might be to see your doctor rebuked for their actions. A licensing board might be able to issue a warning or other discipline. Another thing they might be able to do is to advise you on what to do next. If you want to pursue the case further, they could suggest the steps you could take.
Confirm the Cause of Your Injuries
If you want to prove how your injuries happened, you will need an independent assessment. Your next step should be to seek someone who can assess your injuries and determine their cause. Some states require someone with a case to get a certificate of merit. This certificate is proof that your injuries resulted from negligence by a medical professional. A medical expert will review your medical records. This is to see if the physician you had before did something that didn’t line up with your wishes.
Keep Any Important Evidence
Whether you intend to take your case to court or not, you should ensure you keep any evidence you might need. This could include a range of different things. It could range from a certificate of merit to your medical records. It isn’t just your job to gather these things, but it can help if you’re proactive about it from the beginning. Keep any necessary paperwork you think might be relevant to your case. It could be a good idea to make copies too, so you can have backups.
Speak to a Lawyer
If you think you might have a medical malpractice case, it’s essential to talk to an attorney. Medical malpractice is incredibly fact specific. It’s impossible to get truly valuable advice for a particular case elsewhere. You must make an appointment with an attorney to discuss your case. Only they can let you know whether it’s worth taking it to court. The law firm should list medical malpractice as one of their areas of practice on their website. For example, the Law Offices of David J. Hernandez & Associates include it as one of their areas of expertise. You should take the time to research an attorney before making an appointment to see them. This should include checking their licensing and qualifications. You should also investigate their past cases.
Know What to Ask Your Lawyer
When you see a lawyer, you should go armed with a number of questions. It’s a good idea to be prepared, both to help you determine if you have a case and to choose the right attorney. For example, you should ask them about the experience they have with cases similar to yours. Of course, you should enquire about how they feel your case will go if taken to court. You should be wary of any big promises of a definite win. Although your lawyer can be confident about your chances, they can’t promise any outcomes. Make sure to ask them whether you would be taxed on any compensation. Ask if there is a limit on how much money you can claim too, as many states have laws along these lines.
Be Aware of the Statute of Limitations
It’s important to know how long you have to sue for potential medical malpractice. Most places have a statute of limitations, which is the period within which you must file a case. Of course, you can ask your attorney about how long you have to file. But if you leave it too late to contact a lawyer, you might find you’ve already run out of time. The length of time you have to file your case depends on where you live. You can find out how long you have by looking up your state’s statute of limitations rules.
Can You Afford to Fight?
One of the things you might worry about is the cost of bringing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Many people feel discouraged from taking their case forward. They often think they won’t be able to afford it. It’s true that a malpractice lawsuit can be very expensive. The cost of paying experts is often one of the highest expenses. Other costs include court fees and, of course, paying your attorney. It is possible, however, that you won’t need to worry about these expenses. Many lawyers will work on a contingency basis, so you don’t have to pay them until you win your case. They will take care of the other fees too, allowing you to focus on the case. If you lose, you will usually have to pay the court costs.
Is It Worth Pursuing?
Deciding whether it’s worth taking your case to court is difficult. It can be time-consuming and expensive, and many people feel that it’s not worth it. If you don’t know what to do, you should think about a few different factors. There are several things that can discourage people from pursuing these cases. Sometimes they are scared that doctors won’t want to treat them in future. Others don’t want to face the effects, both personal and financial, that a medical malpractice suit could have on their lives. Only you can decide whether it’s worth sticking to your guns. However, you should make the decision with the advice of an attorney taken into consideration.
Consider Settling Out of Court
If you want to make things right, you don’t have to take it to court. Many people prefer to seek an out-of-court settlement first. It can be less expensive and stressful, as well as quicker. In fact, many insurance companies will encourage you to do everything out of court. If going to court is likely to mean you will lose, it’s better to take the alternative. However, some people will have a strong enough case that they should pursue higher compensation.
Medical malpractice is very complicated, so it’s best not to try and deal with it without a lawyer. Make sure you get legal advice before you proceed with your case.