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Seattle Medical Malpractice Lawyer

How to Sue a Doctor for Malpractice

Thousands of patients suffer and die each year due to doctor malpractice. A study by John 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.

The problem is that 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 have the legal right to pursue compensation through a medical malpractice claim.

Determine If You Have a Medical Malpractice Claim

Each medical malpractice is different. But, you 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. These rules could be very complex because 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 exception, known as the discovery rule, 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, called the statute of repose, which 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 with or 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.

Keep track of these 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

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, and/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.

Work with an Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Medical malpractice cases are expensive, 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

Find a medical malpractice lawyer who has the means to advance all the funds required for covering 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.