Medical Malpractice: Your First Steps to Take

Medical errors and misdiagnoses are more common than you think. Recent studies have shown that 220,000-440,000 deaths per year are due to medical errors. These errors are the third leading cause of death, ranked only behind heart disease and cancer.

Although the majority of health care providers take every measure possible to provide patients with the highest standard of care, there are times when things go wrong.

If you are the victim of medical malpractice, it’s important to plan your next steps carefully – especially if you plan to file a claim.

Contact the Medical Professional

The first step is to contact the medical professional responsible for the injury before filing a claim. The purpose of this step is to get an understanding of what may have went wrong and give the physician a chance to determine whether the problem is something that can be remedied.

In many cases, medical providers will perform services (sometimes free of charge) to provide a solution or to correct a problem.

Contact the Licensing Board

If you are unable to remedy the problem by contacting your doctor, then contact the local medical licensing board. The board is not likely to require the medical provider to give you compensation for the injury, but they can issue a warning.

The board can also advise you on the next steps.

Hire a Lawyer

If you plan to file a claim, it’s in your best interest to at least consult with a lawyer. A lawyer who specializes in medical malpractice claims will have the knowledge and experience to help you through the claims process.

You can go through the process on your own, but there’s a good chance that you’ll walk away with a lower settlement than you deserve.

Understand the Statutes of Limitations

When deciding whether you should file a claim, it’s important to determine how much time you have to bring the claim. All civil claims have time limits, known as statutes of limitations. You must file a claim within a certain time period from when the injury occurred, or you risk waiving your rights to recover compensation for your injuries.

Get a Medical Assessment to Confirm that You Have a Case

Many states are now requiring that patients file a certificate of merit before they file a medical malpractice case. The certificate is proof that the injuries you suffered resulted from the negligence of a health care provider.

In order to file a certificate of merit, you must first contact an expert. Typically, the expert will be another physician. The expert will look over your medical records and certify that the physician did not adhere to proper protocol, which resulted in your injuries. Your attorney will file the certificate of merit, which confirms that your action has merit.

Consider Settling Out of Court

A medical malpractice case can be expensive and time-consuming. For this reason, most cases are settled out of court. Medical malpractice insurance companies reject a large portion of claims, so it may be in your best interest to settle outside of the courtroom.

You lawyer will provide you with advice and guidance on how to proceed with your case for the best outcome.