When you or a loved one have received medical treatment you believe was below the normal standards expected by a reasonable person, you may consider filing a medical malpractice claim against the doctor who was in charge of the case. However, due to the complexities associated with these situations, it’s crucial to know exactly what to do from the beginning. Otherwise, you may find yourself with a claim that is denied, or one that never even gets started. If you are considering the idea of filing a medical malpractice claim, here is important information regarding the steps you will need to take along the way.
Consult an Attorney
If you are considering filing a medical malpractice claim, the first thing you should do is consult with an attorney who is very knowledgeable and experienced in these cases. Since they handle these situations on a regular basis, they will be able to tell you if you do indeed have a case that needs to be pursued. Along with this, they can also make sure you will be able to file your claim before the statute of limitations expires, and that all necessary records and paperwork will be assembled, analyzed, and then submitted in a timely and proper fashion.
Obtain Your Medical Records
In any type of medical malpractice case, medical records are perhaps the most important piece of evidence you can possess. Often the determining factor in winning or losing a case, medical records will play a large part in how your attorney prepares their case strategy. By examining the records themselves and then having them looked at by doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals who act as expert witnesses, flaws can often be found in how treatment was administered, if a doctor or other healthcare professional failed to administer certain treatments or medications, if there were medication errors, or other problems that led to malpractice. However, remember that because of privacy laws, you will be required to sign a waiver allowing others, including both your attorney and the defendant’s lawyer, to view the records.
Notify Insurance Companies, Facilities, and Doctors
If after reviewing evidence you and your attorney decide to pursue a medical malpractice claim, it’s often a good idea to notify the doctor who will be named in the lawsuit, the facility where the incident occurred, and the insurance company that will be representing these parties. While you can do this yourself, it’s usually far better to let your attorney handle these duties. While it will be an unpleasant task, it does offer one advantage. By notifying these parties as soon as possible that you intend to pursue litigation against them, it may prompt them to begin attempts to negotiate a settlement with you and your attorney before the case ever makes it to trial. However, if this happens, be sure to let your attorney handle the negotiations. In many cases, insurance companies will attempt to negotiate directly with the victim or their family, and will use intimidation and other tactics to arrive at a compensation amount that is far below what you deserve. Because of this, any attempts from the insurance company, doctor, or others who are named in the malpractice claim to communicate with you should be referred to your attorney.
Meet Pre-Suit Requirements
In this step, you and your attorney make sure various requirements are met regarding the submission of paperwork and other matters. This often include having sworn statements or affidavits from expert witnesses who are willing to testify on your behalf that malpractice did take place. It’s very important you meet all requirements, because if you don’t the court will likely dismiss your case before it even gets off the ground.
Filing the Malpractice Complaint
The final step in filing a medical malpractice claim is having your attorney draft and file the complaint with the court. Once this is done, the lawsuit is officially started. However, unless you reach a settlement early on, be prepared for a long, complex case to take place in the courtroom.