Between the years 2006 and 2016, over 140,000 medical malpractice cases were fought and won in the United States.
This may seem like a surprisingly small number of cases over ten years’ time and the truth is that medical malpractice occurs in far larger numbers. The trouble is that proving negligence isn’t always an easy feat.
That being said, if you believe that you have a case, you shouldn’t let it go simply because you’re worried that the hospital will fight back. As long as you have a strong case and proven attorneys, you can succeed in suing a hospital for negligence.
To help you determine how strong your case is, we’ve put together 5 of the most important considerations to make before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Read on for more information.
Your Time Is Limited
In every state in America, there is a specific time limit on valid claims. In other words, you need to know how long you have to file your medical malpractice claim before it is legally too late. This is referred to as the statute of limitations.
Most states allow two to three years for a patient to file a medical malpractice claim. However, states like Kentucky and Louisiana have a statute of limitations of only one year. A handful of states may give you more or less time depending on the nature of the damage.
When does the statute of limitations start? More often than not, the clock starts ticking from the moment of the procedure or medical practice that caused the damage. In some cases, the court will extend this time to include the later date at which you reasonably became aware of the damage.
Negligence Is Key
In order to win a medical malpractice case, you need to prove that your healthcare provider behaved in a way that can be considered negligent. What does this look like in the medical field? Let’s look at a few examples.
In some cases, a doctor may misdiagnose a patient because they failed to take into account the patient’s full medical history. Misdiagnoses can also occur when lab equipment is faulty or lab results are misinterpreted.
In other cases, a doctor may perform the wrong procedure on a patient or operate on the wrong body part. In rare cases, doctors have been found to operate on the wrong patient.
Ultimately, negligence in the medical field occurs when a healthcare professional failed to provide the standard of care that another similar professional could have reasonably provided.
Proving medical negligence is one of the hardest things to accomplish in a medical malpractice case. Without it, however, the case cannot be won.
You Need to Know Who to Sue
A lot of different kinds of healthcare professionals get sued for malpractice. In some cases, the hospital, itself, may represent the defendant. In other cases, you may be up against an individual doctor, surgeon, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider.
Knowing who is at fault for your damages is an important first step of any medical malpractice case. More often than not, your attorney will need to take a look into your case before determining who to go after.
It may seem logical to sue the hospital where your damages occurred, but the reality is far more complicated. In fact, you may have seen a doctor that works as an independent contractor and is not an employee of the hospital. In that situation, the hospital may not be liable for your doctor’s actions.
You Need to Know Your Damages
We talk about claims “going to court,” but a lot of claims never actually make it that far. The defendant’s attorneys often want to settle outside of court in order to close the case sooner and protect their client from larger losses.
Because settling is always a possibility, you’re going to want to assess your damages before filing the claim. What are your damages?
Damages refer to any related medical bills you’ve received as a result of medical malpractice. Damages also refer to lost income. Many victims of medical malpractice are unable to work or perform their full duties as a result of their injuries.
Remember that some injuries require longterm care. Make sure you’ve received proper medical attention and have discussed future concerns your doctors may have. If they believe that you will need surgery, for example, make sure that you include those costs in your settlement.
You Need to Come Prepared
Hospitals have the funds and legal protection to fight most medical malpractice claims. For the sake of their insurance and reputation, they have quite a motive to beat these cases. That’s why you need to come prepared when you’re ready to file your medical malpractice claim.
What kinds of materials do you need?
Medical records and bills can help you establish the extent of your injuries and suffering. An expert witness can testify that your injuries are the result of negligent healthcare.
If you are also suing for lost income, you will need relevant employment records and pay stubs. You will also need a statement from your doctor proving that you were unable to perform the duties to maintain your previous income.
These are just a few of the pieces of evidence you’ll need. An experienced attorney will help you determine how best to build your case. Never try to fight your medical malpractice claim alone.
Suing a Hospital for Negligence Is No Easy Feat
It’s hard to determine how common medical malpractice is. We know that we can’t base the numbers off of the cases that were fought and won, alone. Suing a hospital for negligence is not an easy task, and many have not succeeded.
By considering these five things, you can come into the fight prepared to win. Always remember that your case is only as strong as your attorney.
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