Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is injured or harmed as a result of poor medical treatment or a mistaken diagnosis on the part of a doctor, nurse, technician, or medical provider. It’s essentially an incident during which a healthcare professional has failed to do what a reasonably careful and competent professional would have done in a similar situation with similar circumstances.
The Four Most Common Bases for Filing a Malpractice Claim
When malpractice occurs, victims have an opportunity to pursue a claim. Some people choose to do so and others don’t. Of the people who do, here are the four most common reasons:
- Compensation for Bills
The first and most obvious reason to file a malpractice claim is to obtain proper compensation for the medical bills that have resulted from the treatment for the injury and complications. In some cases, a malpractice incident requires a follow-up procedure, extended hospital stay, and/or expensive medication.
By filing a claim, you might be able to recoup some or all of these expenses and eliminate the financial burden that stacks of medical bills entail.
- Fears About Long-Term Costs
Sometimes a malpractice incident is isolated, simple, and has no long-term repercussions. Unfortunately, serious incidents can result in long-term health issues and side effects that require indefinite periods of treatment, medication, and complications.
For example, a complication could lead to a scenario in which the patient is required to pay $200 for prescription medication every month for the rest of his or her life. If the individual is 30 years old, this could easily amount to $110,000 to $120,000 in long-term drug costs. That’s a huge expense for most people to have to cover on their own.
- To Save Others From a Similar Fate
According to Baker & Gilchrist, a leading medical malpractice law firm, “Many patients harmed by doctors or hospitals are reluctant to come forward. By pursuing a malpractice claim, you may save other patients from suffering similar injuries.”
In other words, one of the primary reasons to file a medical malpractice claim is to bring an underlying issue to light and potentially save others from a similar fate.
- To Hold the Negligent Party Accountable
There has to be a sense of justice in the healthcare community; otherwise, shoddy practices would erode the quality, trust, and integrity of the system. Even when people don’t necessarily need the money, malpractice claims should be filed as an effort to send a message that serious mistakes won’t be tolerated.
How to File Your Own Medical Malpractice Claim
If you decide that filing a medical malpractice claim is the path you wish to take, you’ll need a plan of action. Step one is to hire a lawyer.
Although technically you may file your own malpractice claim, ultimately you’re unprepared for all the paperwork, negotiations, and other procedures that are involved. A malpractice lawyer will work on your behalf to ensure you get the amount you’re owed.
And if you don’t get what you believe to be a reasonable offer, your attorney will help you file a lawsuit. In order for a medical malpractice claim to be successful, you’ll have to prove four specific things:
- A doctor-patient relationship existed. Malpractice can only occur if there’s an actual medical relationship between the physician and the patient. (For example, you wouldn’t be able to file a claim if you overheard a doctor giving medical advice to someone in the supermarket.)
- The doctor was negligent. It must be shown that the doctor was negligent. (You can’t sue just because a doctor didn’t make you better. It has to be shown that an appropriate standard of care wasn’t delivered.
- The doctor’s negligence caused the injury. Negligence alone isn’t enough to establish grounds for a malpractice claim. You must prove that the negligence caused you harm or injury. Otherwise it was nothing more than a potentially precarious situation.
- The injury led to specific damages. Finally, it must be shown that the injury led to specific damages. This may include any or all of the following: physical pain, emotional anguish, medical bills, lost work/earning capacity, and/or the need for ongoing treatment and care.
If you and your attorney believe that every one of these four elements is present, then you could have a strong claim. Medical malpractice cases can get complicated and may require extensive research and negotiations.
Follow your legal counsel and wait patiently for the process to unfold.