Medical Negligence: 4 Things To Know Before Filing A Claim

Sometimes you’d wonder if you’ve just been a victim of medical negligence. Like when something goes wrong and you can only ask yourself, did the doctor make a mistake? Or, was it just one of those times where the surgery or treatment failed? 

It’s important to know that all medical professionals are required to provide a certain standard of medical care when looking after patients. If they fail to provide a standard level of care and caused an injury to the patient, or made an existing injury worse, then it might be worth looking at a potential case of negligence.

If you’re unsure whether a doctor has just committed medical negligence or not, click here to read an article that’ll help you figure out when mistakes can become criminal negligence.

If you think that your case is possibly medical negligence, here are 4 things you need to know before filing a claim:

1. The Elements Of Medical Malpractice

There are four elements, also known as the four Ds, that constitute medical malpractice. All these elements have to be present in order for a potential case to be considered valid:

  • Duty – the doctor-patient relationship; the medical professional should owe the patient a duty of care; this professional relationship begins when the patient seeks the services of the doctor, and the doctor agrees to provide medical services.
  • Dereliction of duty – or breach of duty; when the doctor fails to provide the quality of care expected from a professional of his skill level; this often requires statements from experts in the same field of specialization to prove that the standard was indeed not met.
  • Damage or injury from the suspected failure of the doctor to perform his or her duty; it could be a new injury, or an existing injury aggravated or worsened because the expected standard of treatment wasn’t given; damages also include losses, which may be economic or non-economic, that the patient suffered as a result of the injury.
  • Direct cause – there has to be proof that the injuries are directly caused by the medical practitioner’s failure to give the patient adequate care.

If you’re planning to file a medical malpractice claim, make sure that all these four elements exist. Proving your doctor’s neglect, as well as how such neglect led to your injury or loss, are both challenging and will often take some time. However, if you have an experienced malpractice lawyer to help you, the process may become faster and easier.

2. You Need Strong Evidence

In a medical setting, negligence is defined as any action or inaction by medical professionals that may place a patient at risk for preventable injuries and complications. When it’s done deliberately or recklessly, it’ll be considered gross negligence. 

But before you can file a claim, you must be able to provide evidence that the physician’s actions or inactions resulted in your injury or illness. If you can’t establish a strong claim, you won’t be likely to succeed in your medical malpractice claim against the doctor. To begin with, you must show how the medical professional’s actions lead to your injury. 

For example, if you went to a medical facility for pain management, but after a few sessions, instead of improving, your pain becomes worse, and a visit to another facility reveals that your previous treatment may be inadequate. In this case, you’ll need all your medical records from both facilities, which will likely corroborate your claim. But aside from that, statements may also be required from both of the facilities’ staff to prove that the first facility indeed failed to provide proper treatment. 

Medical records play an important role in helping establish a medical negligence claim. If you’re the patient, you’ve got the right to request important medical records that you may find useful when filing a claim. If you’re unsure as to what kind of medical records you need to gather, you may want to consult a medical malpractice attorney first.

3. Your State’s Statute Of Limitations

Most states in the U.S. vary in medical malpractice laws and regulations. So, if you’re going to file a medical malpractice case, it’s also important to understand the specific laws in your state. The requirements and deadlines for filing will likely differ from one year to 3 years.

If you don’t file your case within the prescribed time frame, you may lose your chance to sue the medical professional who caused your injury because of negligence. As much as possible, you must move very quickly. If you can coordinate with an experienced attorney to help you establish a medical malpractice case and complete the requirements, you’ll have a better chance of filing a strong claim within the recommended time limit.

4. How A Medical Malpractice Attorney Can Help You

If you suspect that a doctor has failed to perform your medical treatment to the best of his or her ability, you should speak with an attorney to get proper advice about how to file a medical malpractice claim. One of the first things that your attorney will do is find out what type of negligence occurred and if there are sufficient grounds for a claim. 

Once your attorney confirms that you’ve got a valid medical malpractice claim, they may also collect more information to determine the estimated amount of loss that you incurred, and tell you how much compensation you may be entitled to.

More importantly, a medical malpractice lawyer will help you understand and complete all the requirements you’ll have to submit for the claim.

Conclusion

Medical lawsuits are a long process that can be easily stressful for all parties involved, but most especially for the patient. If you think you’ve been a victim of medical malpractice, you should get in touch with a qualified medical malpractice attorney. Aside from helping you establish a strong claim, and making sure the documents you submit are correct and complete, your lawyer will also help you receive the highest compensation possible.