Medical Malpractice lawsuits can get complex in detail, but the basic timeline of how these kinds of cases come to be litigated is fairly standardized. Here is a dissection of a typical medical malpractice case that can bring about better understanding of how this particular variety of lawsuit works.
1. What is Medical Malpractice?
The formal definition of Medical Malpractice is “a legal cause of action that occurs when a medical or health care professional, through a negligent act or omission, deviates from standards in their profession, thereby causing injury to a patient. The negligence might arise from errors in diagnosis, treatment, aftercare or health management.”
2. What Must Be Proven?
Three matters must be proven for a Medical Malpractice case to both be litigated and potentially be ruled in favor of the plaintiff. It must be proven that the plaintiff/patient’s treatment by the medical professionals in question was not consistent with the expected standard of care, it must be proven that an injury resulted from this negligence, and it must be proven that the injury resulted in damages to the patient/plaintiff which include, but are not limited to, permanent disability, hardship, pain, suffering, medical debt burdens, and/or loss of income.
3. Contacting a Legal Professional
The first step if you think you have a valid medical malpractice case is to contact a medical malpractice lawyer who you can set up a meeting with to go over all aspects of the events, potential litigation process, and financial information. A lawyer will be able to tell you if your case has a chance of moving forward based on your account of the incident(s) and the evidence you have or are able to attain for a potential trial. They will also conduct a preliminary investigation.
4. “Discovery” Medical Assessment, Gathering Records, Interviews
The Discovery stage is the formal investigation process. You will want to gather every document received involving the incident of alleged medical malpractice, and this can include calling hospitals, etc. to gain records that a patient wouldn’t normally have access to. This can sometimes require a joint effort between yourself and legal representation, and is a critical step for having the materials necessary to prove your case.
5. Settlement Consideration
Normally the Medical licensing board that the physician(s) in question have been licensed by are contacted, as are the doctor(s) and their legal teams. Oftentimes, there will be a settlement offer, or a set monetary compensation for the plaintiff/patient so that the malpractice case does not go on to a costly and time-consuming trial. The ball is in your court here, since there is likely to be a discrepancy between what their monetary offer is and what you seek, which may go beyond financial recompensation and extend into having what you consider to be an unfit physician stripped of their license.
Medical Malpractice trials involve presentation of evidence before a judge and jury, much like any other trial. This involves assessment of both liability and damages.