When a care provider or a hospital makes a medical error in your care, it can have dramatic physical and emotional effects on you that can be long-lasting. When it comes to your medical care, you do not have to just take what Murphy’s Law gives you and live with it. The good news is that you do not have to just sit still and endure your situation without having any recourse. To the contrary, you can achieve a just and fair legal result that compensates you for the damages that you have suffered. There are steps that you can take to receive a recovery if you have suffered from a mistake in your medical care. It is important to take all of these steps in order to put you in the best possible legal position.
Get Medical Attention
The fact that you have experienced a medical error does not alleviate your need to receive treatment. You cannot simply stop receiving treatment because there has been a mistake. For starters, there is still the initial condition that was being treated at the time of the error that may have gone unaddressed. In addition, there may be some physical effect from the medical error that are impacting you. Both of these still need to be treated. It is best to find either another doctor or another hospital to treat your medical conditions. You cannot leave these problems untreated while figuring out what happened with the medical error. While you are receiving treatment, it is critical to have the new physician document exactly what your medical issues are. While you may not be able to get the new physician to testify on your behalf, having medical records that memorialize the issue will be of assistance.
Find out What Happened
You will need as much information as possible about what transpired before you are able to figure out your options. You should try to have a conversation with the doctor or hospital that made the error in order to get some information. They may be guarded because of liability concerns, but they may also have an incentive to dissuade you from suing them for malpractice. Some issues are able to be resolved through early communication. The doctor may offer a solution to your problem that will keep you from having to go to court to obtain a remedy. Some mistakes are simple and can be fixed by further treatment and communication. You will likely know from the doctor’s reaction whether they are interested in working with you to resolve the problem or whether they are acting to protect themselves from future liability.
Figure Out if it was Malpractice
Not every medical mistake constitutes medical malpractice. There is a technical legal definition of medical malpractice and every element of that definition must be met in order for you to recover on a malpractice claim. Malpractice requires a showing that the doctor or the hospital was negligent, which is a legal term of art. Just because a doctor makes a mistake does not always mean that they were negligent. More often than not, medical mistakes are malpractice. However, some errors could be considered to be minor or something that even a competent doctor would make. In order to prove medical malpractice, you have to show that the doctor deviated from the standard of care and that you suffered injury that was caused by that deviation. If you have been harmed by a mistake, it is more likely than not malpractice, but you will need to have a good idea before moving forward.
Hire a Lawyer
In order to know if your case was medical malpractice that you can recover for, you will likely need a lawyer to handle your case. Medical malpractice cases are complicated matters that are generally not suitable for the average person to prosecute on their own. The major issue is showing what the standard of care is that the doctor failed to follow. It will take a knowledgeable lawyer to be able to establish that standard and lay the foundation for showing that it has been breached. In many instances, the doctor or hospital will want to talk settlement to cap their liability. The average person is not well-equipped to know the value of their claim and whether they would be settling their claim for pennies on the dollar. In addition, it will likely be necessary to hire medical experts and a lawyer is experienced in working with these professionals.
In any event, talking to a lawyer will help you figure out if the medical mistake rises to the level of malpractice. It is free to have an initial consultation with most lawyers. This can give you a sense of the strength of your case. Further, most medical malpractice lawyers will work on a contingency basis so it will not cost money upfront to hire the lawyer. They will get paid only if you have a recovery from the doctor or hospital. It is not smart to go it alone without the help of a lawyer of you have suffered harm from a medical mistake.
Know Your Deadlines
You cannot wait forever to file a legal claim for compensation after a medical mistake. All states will have something that is called a statute of limitations. This is a time limit that you have on bringing your case. Once the statute of limitations runs out, you cannot file a suit. The statute of limitations begins when you realize that you have suffered harm from a medical mistake. It is usually not wise anyway to wait a long time to take any action just in case there is a dispute over when the statute of limitations began to toll. In any event, you will need to begin doing the legwork to start preparing your claim, so you should not wait until the last minute to do so. By knowing what your deadlines are, you can effectively work backwards to start the process of filing a claim.