How to Sue a Doctor for Malpractice

Thousands of patients suffer and die each year due to doctor malpractice. A study by Johns Hopkins Medicine found that the third most common cause of death in the U.S. is medical errors. Doctors rarely admit to committing a medical error. And some doctors, who may be leaning towards admitting an error, might be scared of violating a cooperation clause found in their medical malpractice insurance. Likewise, for plenty of doctors, their insurance providers prohibit them from admitting that they committed a medical error.

Unfortunately, doctors do commit medical errors that could sometimes be fatal to patients. If you or a loved one sustained injuries due to a doctor’s negligent actions, you are entitled to pursue compensation through a medical malpractice claim.

A Medical Malpractice Attorney Can Help

If you or a family member has been harmed by a medical mistake or the negligence of health care providers, you need a legal representative who is well-versed in medical malpractice law. Tatiana Boohoff and her team have obtained millions of dollars for victims of medical malpractice cases and can advise you as to how to proceed to maximize your potential recovery.

What You Should Know About Medical Malpractice Cases

Medical malpractice lawsuits are based on the premise that a medical professional must provide a certain standard of care and abide by accepted medical practices to treat those in need of their treatment. If a practitioner violates these tenants of the doctor-patient relationship, it may be considered medical malpractice or medical negligence.

To prove that an alleged medical error caused devastating harm to a patient’s body and life is no easy task; it requires proof that the medical malpractice occurred, documentation of medical bills and other damages, and potentially expert testimony in order to demonstrate convincingly that a victim is entitled to full compensation for their losses.

Determine If You Have a Medical Malpractice Claim

Every claim is different. However, in any medical malpractice case, your lawyer will need to establish these elements to ensure that you have a valid malpractice claim:

  • You received treatment from a doctor that does not hold up to the medical standard of care.
  • You sustained a serious and verifiable injury that you wouldn’t have otherwise sustained if not for the doctor’s negligence.

Doctors are negligent when they commit something wrong or fail to carry out certain things that other reasonable doctors would have done in similar circumstances.

For example, most medical errors occur due to these negligent actions:

  • Improper Treatment: Doctors who prescribe improper or wrong treatments or medications or improper medicine dosages might be liable for medical malpractice.
  • Failure to Diagnose: Doctors who fail to recognize and diagnose a dangerous medical condition, such as cancer, or make an inaccurate diagnosis might be liable for your damages.
  • Failure to Warn: If you’ve undergone treatment and experienced adverse effects that your doctor failed to warn you about, your doctor might be liable for malpractice.

Check the Statute of Limitations of Your State

All jurisdictions have legal rules that specify deadlines for settling different kinds of injury claims or suing negligent parties. When you miss this deadline, you automatically forfeit your legal right to pursue compensation for your losses. The medical malpractice statute of limitations can be complex, since the deadline could greatly differ based on a particular case’s circumstances.

Broadly speaking, these statutes of limitations rules are common:

  • The filing deadline is usually one to two years.
  • The discovery rule is an exception for cases in which patients were not aware or could not have reasonably known that a doctor’s negligence contributed to their injuries.
  • Different deadlines for incapacitated people, minors, and other special groups.
  • An overarching deadline for suing a negligent party — the statute of repose — applies regardless of the discovery rule.

Keep Track of All Your Medical Records

Your medical records can serve as evidence to support your medical malpractice claims. You should also consider collecting medical records before the occurrence of the malpractice, even if the records are from other medical providers that are not part of your claim. If your claim goes to court, your medical records will also be necessary during the discovery process.

Make sure to write down a list of all the medical providers you have consulted or have treated you, as well as the dates of all medical appointments, diagnostic tests, and hospital admissions. It will be easier for your lawyer to review and gauge the strength of your case if you have this supporting evidence.

Important Documents Related to Your Claim

  • Tests results
  • Prescriptions
  • Any correspondences with your doctor and their staff
  • Written instructions provided before medical treatments or diagnostic tests
  • Emergency room or hospital discharge paperwork

An attorney can help you recover these items during the investigation of your case. However, if and when possible, it’s important to try to preserve this information during the process of your treatment.

Document How Your Injuries Changed Your Life

Take note that you are likewise legally entitled to significant compensation for the pain and suffering or emotional distress you’ve had to endure or are still enduring due to a medical error. If you’re able, keeping a journal or diary about your experiences could be very helpful to your claim.

You should list down everything you can remember about your health and symptoms before the malpractice incident.

Following the incident, you can describe in your journal all the harms you suffered, including:

  • Your specific symptoms
  • Pain levels
  • Discovery of the medical error
  • Further medical treatments
  • Sleep, emotional, and psychological disturbances
  • Physical limitations and changes
  • How your daily activities and overall quality of life has been affected

Keep in mind that you are deserving of fair compensation for all aspects of your life that your injuries have negatively affected. This can include your inability to care for your family, home, or pets and even the distress and shame you feel because you require help with going to the bathroom and your personal hygiene tasks.

Consider Filing a Complaint with the Medical Board

Upon receiving your complaint, the medical board will need to investigate your doctor. While you won’t receive compensation for this action, if the board finds that your doctor was negligent, they could face hefty fines and revocation of their medical license.

Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Malpractice

Can a Minor File a Medical Malpractice Claim?

A child under 18 is incapable of taking legal action alone. Additionally, some states have special legislation regarding the statute of limitations in cases involving minors. In many cases, a child’s parents or legal guardians can pursue a claim on an injured minor’s behalf. Check your state’s guidance; you may have the right to pursue the compensation you deserve for your child’s medical negligence.

What if a Loved One Was Fatally Injured by Medical Malpractice?

Your state’s law may have specific guidance on who can file a medical malpractice lawsuit for a deceased spouse or relative. For example, in many states, only an executor of the deceased person’s estate is able to file suit. Many states have hierarchies that determine which relations can file a wrongful death lawsuit.

By working with an experienced attorney who understands both wrongful death and medical malpractice law, you can be confident that your case is in good hands.

What Damages Could I Recover in a Medical Malpractice Claim?

Compensation for medical malpractice damages varies based on the extent and severity of your losses. These could include medical expenses, including additional surgeries, corrective medical treatments, hospitalization, and other costs related to the damage you sustained.

You may also be compensated for other financial losses related to your injuries, such as lost wages or earnings, and non-financial damages, such as pain and suffering and mental anguish.

Work with an Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Medical malpractice cases are expensive and complicated and could take several years to resolve, depending on the specific facts of the case. Working with the right lawyer for your case will ensure that you receive fair compensation for all your losses. A lawyer with experience in medical malpractice cases will likewise know which experts to hire to strengthen and prove your claim.

For instance, you will need medical experts for:

  • Reviewing your medical records
  • Establishing the proper standard of care fit for your specific situation
  • Determining how your doctor failed to provide you the proper standard of care
  • Identifying the permanence and scope of the injuries you sustained due to the malpractice

In addition, you’ll need financial experts for:

  • Calculating your future lost earnings and lost earning opportunities
  • Determining the future cost of your medical treatments
  • Evaluating how the medical malpractice affected your family financially

Additionally, if you’re unable to reach a fair settlement with your insurance company, your lawyer is prepared to file a medical malpractice lawsuit and litigate for you in civil court.

Find a medical malpractice lawyer who has the means to advance all the funds required to cover the costs of medical experts, court fees, accountants, discovery costs, and more. While you cannot go back in time and undo the ill effects of a medical malpractice injury, receiving fair compensation will hopefully help you move on with your life.

February 3, 2023
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