The 7 First Steps to Take in a Medical Malpractice Case

Lia Kopin-Green
July 14, 2022

Have you been injured or suffered the loss of a loved one due to your medical provider’s negligence? A medical malpractice case arises when a patient is injured or harmed by poor medical treatment or a mistaken diagnosis by a medical professional, such as a doctor, nurse, or hospital. Read on to learn about the first steps you should take when it comes to filing a medical malpractice claim.

1. Check the Statute of Limitations

A medical malpractice victim has a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit against a negligent doctor or health care provider. The law that sets this limit is known as the statute of limitations. If you wait too long to file your case and pass the statute of limitations, you will lose your right to any compensation. This is why it is crucial to check the statute of limitations for your state and circumstances before proceeding with your medical malpractice case. Various states and types of claims have different statutes of limitations, so you should consult a malpractice lawyer regarding the statute of limitations in your case.

2. Hire a Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Medical malpractice claims are complicated and full of technical legal details that require the assistance of an attorney, even if you think you could handle them yourself. Therefore, before moving forward with any other steps in your medical malpractice case, you should consult an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. In addition to providing crucial assistance in filing a claim and completing the necessary paperwork, your attorney will advocate on your behalf to strive for the best possible outcome in your case. In the event of medical negligence, hiring a powerful attorney will give you the best chances of receiving compensation.

3. Obtain Copies of Your Medical Records

It should be noted that the right to obtain a copy of your medical records is protected by law. Your medical records are used as the main piece of evidence to prove medical malpractice cases, so getting a hold of them as soon as possible is highly recommended. Due to privacy regulations, you will have to ask for the copies yourself or sign a release form authorizing your lawyer to request them on your behalf. Make sure to include documentation from all doctors and facilities that treated you, such as nurses’ and doctors’ notes, examination results, medication prescriptions or anything else that you feel could be relevant to your case. By reviewing your medical records, your attorney can become familiar with the details of your claim and start putting together a powerful case that will help you get the compensation you deserve.

4. Notify the Medical Professional Involved

Before officially filing the claim, you should get in touch with the involved medical professionals. Some states require that you submit a formal notice to the medical professional a certain number of days before filing a claim. Moreover, together with your malpractice lawyer, you can use this opportunity to approach the doctor or facility and try to find a solution outside of court. In these situations, doctors are often willing to provide additional services, often free of charge, to resolve the issue. The legal process of filing a lawsuit can be complicated and costly, so it is often recommended to explore other options before pursuing formal litigation.

5. Meet Pre-Suit Requirements

Some states have enacted several pre-suit requirements that must be fulfilled before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Although these processes vary from state to state, one of the most common requirements is known as a “certificate of merit.” In order for this certificate to be issued, a medical expert must review your case and provide an expert opinion that your care fell below the expected standard of care and that negligence was present.  If you fail to obtain a certificate of merit for your case, your claim could be dismissed and as a result, you will be unable to receive any sort of remedy or compensation. Your attorney can inform you about the prerequisites for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in your state.

6. Contact Your Insurance Company

Upon deciding to move forward with a medical malpractice claim, you and your attorney should inform your insurance company that you intend to file a lawsuit. At this point, depending on your policy, the insurance company may offer an early settlement. All settlements should be reviewed by your attorney to ensure that you are getting what you are entitled to. Your attorney will make sure you understand what you're entitled to and fight for you to get it, so you don't have to settle for less than you deserve.

7. File the Complaint

Once you have completed all the necessary steps, it's time to file your official complaint. In this formal document, you will stipulate the injuries you have suffered and the allegations you are bringing against the medical provider. The lawsuit will be initiated once the complaint is filed. The process of filing a complaint involves a lot of paperwork and processes that may seem complicated if you are not a lawyer. Professional malpractice attorneys can help you navigate this difficult process and obtain all the necessary documents so that you can be compensated fairly for your injuries or losses.

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