Approximately 750,000 people die each year in the U.S. due to medical malpractice. This occurs when a medical or healthcare professional causes injury or death to a patient by acting negligently or failing to perform their duties in accordance with the standards of care that are expected in their profession.
Medical malpractice is now the third most common cause of death in the U.S. following heart disease and cancer. Examples include the wrong administration of dosages, failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis, unnecessary surgery, and poor follow-up or aftercare.
If you suffered harm due to the actions or inactions, of a healthcare professional and are considering filing a lawsuit for medical malpractice, this article will help you to understand the steps you need to take to bring a successful case.
Check Statute Of Limitations
Before you can legally file a medical malpractice claim, you must check that the legal time limits to file your case haven’t yet expired. Known as statutes of limitations, these limits state the period in which a claim must be filed. In cases of medical malpractice, the deadline in which to bring a claim is typically two to six years from when the incident in question occurred.
By checking the prescribed statutory time limits for your state, you’ll know whether you’re eligible to bring a claim and how much time you have left to do so. If you fail to take this step, you face losing the right to sue for medical malpractice and will, therefore, forfeit your right to be legally compensated for any injuries you may have suffered.
Seek Legal Advice
Once you’ve checked that the statute of limitations has not yet expired, you should seek legal advice from an attorney who has experience in medical malpractice litigation to have your case reviewed from a legal standpoint. Many law firms offer a free consultation wherein they’ll evaluate the merits of your case at no cost. It’s advisable to seek legal advice from a law firm that offers a case review.
A team of Liverpool Lawyers can also offer to take on a client’s case on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis. This means they’ll only accept payment from their client if they win the case.
An Internet search for relevant law firms in your area is the best place to begin, and it’s recommended that you consult two or three law firms that specialize in medical malpractice before making your decision.
Inform Insurers And Healthcare Professionals
It’s advisable to inform the healthcare provider you intend to bring a claim against before filing your lawsuit. This gives them notice and the opportunity to remedy the matter, if possible. Their insurance provider will also be alerted to a potential claim, allowing them to undertake an internal review of the matter.
In some situations, this may lead to a settlement between the parties without having to bring a claim or take the matter to court. Suing for medical malpractice can be an expensive and time-consuming affair, so it’s in the best interest of both parties to try to reach an acceptable settlement out of court.
It’s recommended that you have legal representation at this stage as your attorney can act on your behalf as an intermediary between you and the other party’s insurance company. Your attorney can negotiate the best outcome for you, and having an attorney represent you will also signal your intent to bring legal proceedings if a solution isn’t reached or if your claim isn’t dealt with sufficiently.
Medical Records And Expert Witnesses
Documentation and accurate medical records are the foundation of a strong medical malpractice case. Your medical records will provide your attorney with a thorough understanding of your case and will help to establish any negligence on the part of your healthcare provider.
Based on your medical records, your attorney can conduct an investigation by seeking opinions from medical experts who can provide valuable testimony that can assist your case. Testimony from expert witnesses is essential to most medical malpractice cases as the facts tend to be too complex for those without medical knowledge to determine whether the healthcare professional should be liable for the injuries suffered by the patient.
If you sustained injuries or suffered harm as the result of medical malpractice and are considering bringing a claim, then the four steps outlined in this article can provide a useful roadmap on how to begin.