Like many others, you might believe you have a valid medical malpractice case if your doctor makes a mistake during your treatment. However, the truth is, there’s a lot more to medical malpractice lawsuits than just getting hurt. There are two key factors that you must first consider and prove: A medical professional made a mistake, and you were directly harmed by that mistake. Since it’s not always easy or fast to prove these two things, a malpractice case can be a complicated, long legal matter.
The mistake can happen at any time during your treatment. For instance, your doctor might not give you the proper medication or treatment for your illness, or he or she might make a mistake diagnosing your illness. The key point to note is here is the standard of care. This is the generally accepted method used by other medical professionals to treat patients under similar or the same circumstances as you.
For example, if you’re a 25-year-old business owner with asthma living in Ohio, the standard of care your doctor is required to use is the standard other doctors in Ohio use to diagnose and treat asthma in 35-year-old business owners. Of course, this standard is different for 70-year-old retired railroad workers in West Virginia or 20-year-old athletes in New Mexico. The standard changes depending on the patient’s medical problem, age, and location.
If you feel you can prove your doctor breached the standard of care for your illness or medical problem, you’ve now made a big first step in building a solid medical malpractice case.
Damage or Injury
It’s not enough that your doctor made a mistake. Before you file a medical malpractice lawsuit, you must be able to show that his or her mistake directly injured you. A disease or medical condition that worsened after treatment, brain damage following an operation, the amputation of the wrong limb, or even death are excellent examples of damage or injuries. In short, unless you’ve been hurt, you do not have a medical malpractice case.
In addition, you must also prove causation, or that your injury is connected to the negligence and was caused by the doctor’s mistake. This might be the most expensive and most difficult part of your medical malpractice lawsuit. In general, you will likely need at least one expert witness, typically another medical professional, to explain how the mistake caused your damage.
As you can see, a medical malpractice case can be complicated from the beginning since you have a lot to prove, and the defense doesn’t usually pay up without a fight. Keep in mind that you can’t wait to file a case; the statute of limitations dictates exactly how long you have to file your medical malpractice case against your doctor. While the time period varies from state to state, it’s generally two years from the date on which you were injured.
While the costs and complexities involved in these cases can be high, don’t let them scare you away from a case. If you’ve been injured by your doctor or another medical professional’s failure to act or mistake, discuss your options with an attorney to see if you have a valid claim. Not only might you be entitled to receive money, or damages, for pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical expenses, but you can also help to ensure the same mistake doesn’t happen to another patient.