How Does a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Work?
Medical malpractice lawsuits are personal injury claims filed against a negligent medical professional or the hospital/institution they work for in order to obtain compensation for any damages incurred. There are several steps that go into filing a claim, from discovering the malpractice to determining the amount of damages suffered, to proving liability. Our attorneys at Karns & Kerrison are here to break down what these claims are and how to file them.
Examples of Medical Malpractice
To start, there are several different types of malpractice over which a claim could be filed:
- Delayed diagnosis
- Surgical errors
- Anesthesia errors
- Errors in child delivery
- Incorrect/improper long-term treatment
There are also various subtypes of each of these categories. For example, you can misdiagnose any condition (e.g. cancer, heart disease, cataracts) or make surgical errors during or after a variety of surgical procedures.
Steps to Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim
Consulting an Attorney
Many potential claimants often wonder whether consulting an attorney is necessary, and while you are not legally required to seek the counsel of a legal professional, often the benefits greatly outweigh the risks.
In fact, many attorneys offer free consultations so you will not have to pay a dime. What’s more, consultations are completely confidential, which means you will not have to worry about other people finding out about your case if you do not want them to. Therefore, the only real downside is that you have to take time out of your day to discuss your case, which you may find very emotionally tolling, with an attorney.
As for the benefits, they include:
- Getting a professional opinion on whether you are eligible for a legal claim
- Determining which legal deadlines apply to your case
- Obtaining an estimate of how much your case could be worth
- Discussing potential next steps for your claim
- Learning what it will take to give yourself the best chance of success
Investigating and Preparing Your Case
Whether or not you decide to work with a lawyer, you will need to prepare your claim so it can be formally submitted before the legal deadline. In doing so, you or your lawyer will need to investigate your case to uncover additional evidence of liability and wrongdoing.
For medical malpractice cases, medical records are essential. You may also find it necessary to consult medical experts to obtain expert testimony and/or their backing for your case, as the defense will most certainly weaponize their own status as medical experts and reach out to their colleagues for support.
Filing the Lawsuit
Once the investigation is wrapped up, all information will be compiled into the claim so that the suit can be filed. Your argument and the damages you are attempting to recover (e.g. medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.) will be outlined in the official claim. This is when the defendants are notified of the suit: After it is filed, they will be sent, or “served,” copies of the legal documents you submitted.
Next comes the process of “discovery,” which simply means that you will need to obtain specific documents from the at-fault parties involved. Filing motions and obtaining written (affidavits) or oral (depositions) statements may be required to get your hands on all the information you need for your claim.
At any time throughout the legal claims process, you could negotiate a settlement with the defense and their attorney team. Often, claimants opt for a settlement because they can negotiate a payout that they believe to be more than satisfactory.
It is important to note that it is almost always advisable to negotiate and to never take the first settlement offer; the at-fault party will most likely attempt to pay the lowest possible amount that they think they can get away with.
Going to Court
If your court date arrives and no settlement has been reached, then the case will proceed to trial. Evidence will be presented, arguments will be asserted, and testimony will be given by both you (the plaintiff) and the defendant. Any witnesses called in by either party will also testify before the court.
From here, the only step left is for the court to review your case and determine who is in the right. If the court rules in your favor, the judgment will be awarded to you. Should you lose your case, you may be able to appeal, but this will cost more money and take more time.
Get Started on Your Medical Malpractice Claim
If you are contemplating filing a medical malpractice claim, Karns & Kerrison can help you get started. Our premier Rhode Island firm offers free, confidential consultations to injured patients in Providence and throughout the state, without any obligation to move forward.
Should you decide to work with us, we can help you prepare your claim, negotiate a settlement, fight for your rights in court, and more. We have recovered more than $250 million for our clients since 1974, and we are prepared to apply the skills we have honed and the knowledge we have acquired over the years to your case.
Contact Karns & Kerrison onlinetoday to schedule a free case review.