When to Hire a Medical Malpractice Attorney
An assumption of care and trust exists between a patient and a doctor. However, mistakes do happen. Unfortunately, the one that suffers the most is the patient and their family. Medical practitioners as well as doctors, take an oath to do their best to care for their patients. But, medical treatments and diagnosis are often complex and all too often ailments are not detected soon enough for treatment, or they are misdiagnosed.
Medical malpractice lawsuits happen more than you might think. This is because medical malpractice is possible to claim against, not only a doctor, but against a facility, nurses and others involved in the healthcare practice. All healthcare professionals are held to a standard of care within state and federal guidelines. It means they must meet these minimum requirements. When they do not meet these minimum requirements, disastrous events take place. Find out if you have a medical malpractice case and whether you would benefit from hiring a medical malpractice attorney.
What is Malpractice?
Medical malpractice covers more than a botched surgery. Malpractice occurs in many ways. Some of the most common are:
- Failure to follow safety procedures
- Wrongful death
- Surgical errors
- Failure to get informed consent before treatment
- Prescribing the wrong medicine or treatment
- Poor documentation
If you are like most, you may believe you do not have a case. But not investigating the possibility leaves you dealing with pain or disability for the rest of your life. Economic loss and the impact on your home life are also at risk.
What to Do if You Experience Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice happens frequently in numerous medical categories. If you have been the victim of medical malpractice, a good first step is to contact a malpractice attorney so that he or she can assess what happened to you. Before you meet with your attorney make sure you have documented the problem, when it occurred and gather additional medical assessments from other physicians. Bring copies of bills and indicate if there is a loss of income as a result of the malpractice. This also includes social and emotional impact to your quality of life. Keep in mind that time is not your friend in these types of cases. Many states place a statute of limitation on medical malpractice lawsuits. Some states give you only a couple of years to bring suit.
Common Medical Malpractice Disciplines
Medical malpractice can happen in any of the medical disciplines. However, there are certain areas where malpractice occurs more frequently. Most often you find malpractice happening in the following:
- Ob/GYN/Women’s Health
- Internal and family medicine
Sadly, in most states, doctors and healthcare professionals accused of medical malpractice in these specialty areas often continue to practice medicine even after losing a medical malpractice case. In some states the medical professional must have been sanctioned at least five times before their license is suspended or revoked. Florida, for example, ranks lowest at the bottom for license revocation. Lists of malpractice cases by state are available so you can see where you stand.
Proving negligence on a doctor or facility’s part is difficult. In the U.S. each year 200,000 patients die due to medical errors. Only 15 percent of those choose to file a lawsuit. Of that amount 80 percent end up receiving nothing, which makes choosing a malpractice lawyer, someone trained for this, is so vitally important. Many attorneys practice a wide range of case types. With the success rate for medical malpractice so low, it is crucially important you check out the track record of the attorney you select.
How Much Could You Recover in Compensation?
Each case is different, but compensation includes more than monetary award for lost income or medical bills. Compensation can also include a large award that you receive each month if the injuries are severe enough. In addition to suing the doctor you can also recover compensation from the healthcare facility, nurses, EMTs and laboratories handling your samples.
Most lawsuits are settled out of court. This is because if the case goes to trial it most often goes against the doctor and the award amount is higher. If you settle out of court often one of the requirements is that you agree to a non-disclosure document. This means you are not allowed to talk to anyone about the lawsuit and what happened to you or your loved one. According to MedScape the average out of court settlement was around $425,000, whereas the average trail award was around a million dollars.
It is less costly and less time consuming if you settle out of court. However, if your injuries or bills are such that the lower amount would not set things right, then a court trial is in your best interest. Keep in mind that a court trial takes more time for the attorney to prepare as well, and he or she will charge accordingly. The following factors impact the amount of your award:
- Severity of your injuries
- Medical costs and treatments as a result of the injury
- Emotional, social and physical distress
- Impact to quality of life
If you are partially to blame for the incident or you are predicted to make a full recovery from your injuries your award amount could be less. Likewise, if you opted to be treated by someone who is not a licensed medical practitioner you may receive less. When you meet with your attorney, make sure you fully disclose all of the details of your case.