When we are in the hands of a medical professional, we like to believe that things will turn out well. We think that our doctors and nurses will do their best to provide us with adequate care and the best possible treatment. However, conditions can sometimes become worse if your doctor has committed medical malpractice.
If you think you’ve become a victim of medical malpractice, here are the necessary actions you should consider.
Document Any Suspected Medical Malpractice
The first thing you should do is to document the suspected medical malpractice if you think that you were treated poorly, unfairly, negligently or wrongly by a medical professional.
- Get copies of your medical tests, blood tests, lab tests, and doctor’s notes.
- Get the names of the medical professionals that attended you including doctors, nurses, etc.
- Make sure you know the procedures or surgeries performed on you, as well as their outcomes.
The more proof or documents you can gather, the more you can prove your case of medical malpractice in court.
Gather Records, Charts and Other Documents
Your medical malpractice attorney will need as many related documents as possible to evaluate and help prove your case. Your attorney will need documents such as:
- Medical records
- List of medical professionals that attended you from when you were hospitalized
- List of prescription medicine you’ve been taking and the amount of dosage
- Other related paperwork or documents your attorney may ask you.
Before you hire an attorney, ask him/her what kind of documentation they will request from you so you can prepare it beforehand.
Question the Healthcare Providers Who Attended You
Most patients are afraid to question their doctors, thinking that these medical professionals know what they are doing. Many people find it intimidating. Know that you have the right to know every procedure or treatment they provide.
- Always ask questions about a procedure or surgery. For example, if you are a victim of a slip and fall accident and have incurred injuries because of this, take the time to inquire why certain procedures are being done to your injuries.
- Know as much as possible about the treatment they are going to give you.
- Ask your healthcare providers about the medications they’ve given you.
Ready to Proceed? Do So Confidently and Carefully
Although you have the right to question your doctors or nurses, you don’t want to come off as upset or harass them when trying to gather as much information as possible. Here are some tips on how to proceed carefully and quietly as you prepare your case.
Request an investigation.
You can request a hospital investigation if you believe that your current condition or injury has resulted from medical malpractice. Keep in mind though that most hospitals will not want to share the results of their investigation with you. But requesting a hospital investigation can help raise awareness about your claim on medical malpractice.
Don’t talk to an insurance company or accept a settlement without consulting an attorney.
Most doctors have a strong liability insurance coverage that will help them settle any claims from their patients. It’s important that you don’t accept the settlement they’re offering without consulting an attorney first. The settlement they may be giving you might be far less than what you really need and deserve. Also, accepting a settlement can rid you of your ability to file a claim for additional damages in the future.
Don’t tip them off.
You don’t want the healthcare professionals to know that you are filing a medical malpractice claim against them. Once they know about your legal actions, their legal counselors will do their best to discredit your claim. They will go to such lengths to uncover evidence that your claim on medical malpractice doesn’t make any sense.
Seek legal advice as soon as possible.
Keep in mind that you have a limited amount of time to take legal action against medical malpractice. So to take full advantage of your limited time, you must seek legal advice quickly. Hire a skilled and experienced attorney who specializes in medical malpractice cases. The medical malpractice lawyer you hired will tell you what your legal options are and help you come up with good decisions regarding your case.
Hiring an Attorney? Tips for Hiring the Right One
Here are some things to consider when looking for the right malpractice attorney for you.
- Ask about the experience of the medical malpractice attorney. If you are going to file a claim on medical malpractice, it means that you are going up against an established medical institution like a hospital, or a nursing home, or a doctor who is backed by strong liability insurance. This is why you need to hire a medical malpractice attorney with lots of experience. Ask your potential attorneys how long they’ve been practicing medical malpractice cases, then ask about their results. Having an experienced attorney on your side can help you win your case.
- Ask how your case will be managed. You need to make sure that an experienced medical malpractice attorney will personally handle your case. Not all law firms handle all the cases that they take on. They may pass your case on to another law firm, so they have more time to manage overflow.
- Ask about the estimated timeline of your case. Medical malpractice cases can take a very long time before a judgment is passed. A medical malpractice case sometimes takes one or two years before it can be settled. It can even last up to five years or more, especially if the case is complicated.
- Ask about the legal fees. It’s important to get hold of an estimated legal cost before proceeding with your case. Legal fees can easily rack up. If you don’t know what might be the overall charge your lawyer is going to bill you, you might have a hard time paying your attorney later on, especially if you lost the case.
Understand Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations in Your State
It is stated in the law that a patient has the right to file a claim against healthcare professionals if they believe that they’ve become a victim of medical malpractice. But before a patient can file a claim against a healthcare professional, he/she must first establish the following:
- A doctor-patient relationship, in which the doctor has a duty to provide adequate care to the patient.
- The standard of care is violated by the doctor and has resulted in an injury, untimely death, or made the condition even worse.
- A compensable injury.
Keep in mind though that you have a deadline to follow when filing a medical malpractice claim, which is called a statute of limitations. All states have different medical malpractice statute of limitations. And if you don’t get to file your medical malpractice claim within the time limit in your state, you will never be able to seek compensation for the damages you’ve suffered from the medical malpractice of your doctor.
If you think that you’re a victim of medical malpractice, don’t wait too long. You need to act immediately. Time is of essence especially if you are seeking compensation to help you pay for the damages that you’ve suffered from the medical malpractice.
Vicki is a law writing enthusiast who’s had over 25 years of experience in her field. She enjoys sharing her experiences with those who want to learn more about the legal world. In her spare time, she spends quality time with her family and friends.