Medical Malpractice Claim: First Steps

A medical malpractice case occurs when a patient is injured or mistreated due to an action or inaction beyond the standard of care which they would have received by a different doctor (or other medical professional) in a similar circumstance. The patient can file a lawsuit against the doctor in order to receive monetary compensation for the medical negligence. This process can be confusing, so here are the first steps to take:

Standard of Care: How to Prove Medical Negligence

In order to have a medical malpractice case, the patient must have been injured due to the negligence of the medical professional. Negligence is defined by a deviation from the standard of care. The exact standard of care is defined differently in different states, but, essentially, it is the reasonable degree of care expected from a similarly qualified professional in a similar circumstance. It is upon the plaintiff to prove that there has been a breach in the standard of care. Once you believe that there was negligence, you should act quickly. 

Is There a Time Limit to File the Malpractice Claim?

Yes. “Statute of Limitations” refers to the time limit you have to file your claim. If the time since the incident exceeded the Statute of Limitations, you can automatically lose your case. Some states start the clock when the medical negligence is discovered, but others start it earlier - when the medical error occurred. You can check the Statutes of Limitations for your specific state here. Therefore, you should act quickly and contact a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. If possible, you should obtain your medical records and present them to your medical malpractice attorney. 

Settlement or Trial?

Most medical malpractice lawsuits are settled before they go to trial. In a study conducted on more than 60,000 successful medical malpractice claims, “Only 2.6% of claims ended in verdicts; the rest were settlements.” While the settlement amount can be greater in trial, the plaintiff can receive the settlement compensation earlier through a settlement and doesn’t have to risk the possibility of losing in court.