Medical malpractice is a serious issue that occurs when doctors or other healthcare workers make mistakes that cause injury to their patients. It is estimated that up to 20,000 malpractice lawsuits are filed each year. While preventive measures from doctors and constant updates to medical rules and regulations have helped to reduce the number of errors, they still occur, causing devastating injuries. The most common type of medical malpractice is a failure to diagnose an illness or condition. Other examples include surgical errors such as leaving instruments inside a patient or operating on the wrong body part. In some cases, medical negligence results in death. Close relatives of the deceased may file a wrongful death claim for compensation.
Malpractice lawsuits can be complex, and the litigation process often extends years before reaching a trial. A medical malpractice lawyer can help you determine the liable parties and build a strong case for maximum compensation.
A successful medical malpractice lawsuit must prove four legal elements: (1) a healthcare provider owed you a duty of care; (2) the healthcare provider breached this duty; (3) the breach directly caused your injury; and (4) your injury resulted in damages. If your medical malpractice claim is successful, you may be entitled to receive a financial award that covers your losses such as lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering.
While many people believe that a doctor must have been negligent to be subject to a malpractice lawsuit, that is not always the case. The definition of medical negligence is that the healthcare provider deviated from the standard of care that other medical professionals would have followed under similar circumstances. For example, if you have cancer, your doctor should be aware of the risk of complications and take precautions to ensure that you are safe. Taking the time to discuss your symptoms with your healthcare provider can help you understand what medical issues are present and whether a procedure is necessary.
The first step in a medical malpractice lawsuit is to get a medical expert to certify that your case has merit. This is known as a certificate of merit and is a requirement in most states. Your attorney will contact a doctor who works in a field related to the alleged medical negligence and ask them to review your case. They will submit a written statement or affidavit to the court stating that your claim has merit.
In some cases, the defendant’s insurance company may try to negotiate a settlement with you. This is a good option because it helps to avoid a trial, which can be stressful for everyone involved. However, if the insurance company believes that it will win at trial, they may offer you less than what you deserve.