We are currently living amidst a global pandemic of an unprecedented nature. Healthcare systems around the world are currently under immense pressure. The unfortunate reality is that when such systems are overextended and medical staff are overworked, mistakes can happen. Each year, thousands of people find themselves in horrible situations that could have potentially been prevented, whether as a result of medical misdiagnosis or negligence on the part of a medical professional.
If you find yourself the victim of such an incident, you may be entitled to compensation. However, you will need to file a successful medical negligence claim in order to access this compensation, which is often easier said than done. You are legally entitled to file the claim yourself, but most people do seek legal support to assist them through the process. Regardless of the path you pursue, if you do decide to file a claim, here are some essential tips to help you do so successfully:
Medical malpractice lawsuits tend to be quite time sensitive. If you feel you’ve suffered as a direct result of a medical error, you need to act quickly. Depending on your location, there are statutes of limitations in place which dictate how long you can potentially wait before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. In some U.S. states such as Wyoming, the statute of limitations indicates that the allotted time period for filing a claim begins on the day the medical error took place while others may state that this period starts from the time the victim discovers an injury. Regardless, failing to file your lawsuit in a timely fashion and in accordance with the state laws means there is a high chance you won’t be entitled to compensation, so act fast and don’t delay.
Hire a Specialist Lawyer
You’ll need to find yourself a reputable lawyer who specializes in medical negligence cases. It’s best to try and find an attorney that has fought cases similar to yours in the past. Be sure to check online forums for reviews and recommendations or speak to your own social networks to find a lawyer with a good reputation in the field. Experts such as seattlemalpracticelawyers.com are well placed to guide you through the process. They’ll be able to tell you how viable your case is, and will help you avoid mistakes that could result in your claim being denied.
Get a Second Opinion
Even as you prepare to go to court to seek compensation, your health must always be your primary focus. Find a reliable healthcare provider and get a second opinion on your medical issues. Be sure to document everything; having the necessary paperwork is especially important if you are claiming for something that happened a while back. Having the opinion of other medical professionals can help boost your medical negligence case, so make sure you get these in writing.
Understand the Nature of Your Injury
There is a broad range of incidents that fall under the umbrella of medical malpractice. It’s important to truly understand the nature of your particular injury so your lawyer can ascertain exactly how much compensation you can file for. For example, a long-term, debilitating injury will be regarded as being more serious and can command a larger compensation settlement. Don’t underestimate the nature of a minor injury either, as you could still be in line for a decent payout. Regardless, be truthful about the severity of an injury because if the court feels you are exaggerating, your claim can be denied entirely.
Be Prepared to Deal With a Review Panel
Depending on which U.S. state you happen to be residing in or where the malpractice took place, you may be required to submit your case to a review panel. This panel will review all the evidence and listen to testimonies to decide whether medical malpractice has indeed occurred. It is important to note that these review panels aren’t authorized to issue any compensation awards to the victim and don’t replace a formal lawsuit. With that being said, it is an important stage of the process that some states require claimants to go through before moving forward with a lawsuit. If the panel rules in a claimant’s favor and acknowledges that medical malpractice did occur, this can certainly boost a case in court.
Don’t Negotiate Without Your Lawyer Present
You may find that a service provider will try to communicate with you directly in order to settle the claim out of court. This is often an attempt to prevent a legal case against them, which could have potential long-term consequences for the organization. While settling out of court is not necessarily a bad idea, have your lawyer present for any negotiations, as they are best suited to navigate the legalities of the situation.
Don’t Give Up
Filing a medical negligence claim won’t necessarily be a straightforward process. In fact, sometimes, these cases can take a while to conclude. The mediation process can take some time, and having to deal with a review panel is an additional stage you may have to factor in. If the case then goes to trial, it could take anywhere from a few months to several years to conclude. You’ll need to make a call on whether the damages you’ve suffered are truly worth that effort, but a good attorney should present you with enough honest information to make that decision. If you do decide to go through with legal proceedings, you should be prepared to be patient and trust your attorney to handle the situation.
Medical malpractice is a massive legal field, and you’ll find that each case is handled quite differently depending on its nature. While the process might be arduous, don’t let that put you off. Having suffered as a result of a medical mistake or negligence, you deserve to be compensated for the inconvenience caused as well as any additional pain and suffering, so don’t give up your fight.