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Don't Be In The Dark About Our Legal System

Hello, I'm Karla Mitchell. Going through a legal case can be very expensive and challenging. I won't go into details, but I recently underwent my own legal battle that lasted several years. It is finally over and I successfully received a settlement, but I had to spend so much time studying law in order to play my role in my own court case. While I found a great attorney at one point, I felt completely lost initially and I don't want anyone else to experience the same thing. So I decided to create this blog for those who would like to know more about law.


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Don't Be In The Dark About Our Legal System

Medical Malpractice 101: What You Need To Know Before Filing A Lawsuit

by Andrew Martin

Medical malpractice is a serious issue in the United States, with almost 200,000 patients dying every year from preventable medical mistakes. If you're considering filing a lawsuit against a doctor or hospital, you've got an uphill climb ahead of you. Before proceeding, you should know what medical malpractice is, the key components of a medical malpractice claim, and what you need to do before filing your lawsuit.

Medical Malpractice Defined

There are a lot of misconceptions about medical malpractice. To help you determine if what you experienced was malpractice, it is important to understand what it is.

Your doctor may be guilty of medical malpractice if they provided substandard care through negligence or recklessness that resulted in harm or injury. Medical malpractice can occur during any of the following steps of medical care:

  • Diagnosis
  • Treatment
  • Aftercare
  • Health management

A physician may be considered negligent if they fail to provide care that any other reasonable physician would provide under the same circumstances. If your doctor fails to diagnose a serious medical condition or does not adequately advise you of your medical treatment options, they may be guilty of negligence.

Another aspect of malpractice involves recklessness. For example, a doctor who performs medical procedures under the influence of drugs or alcohol would be considered reckless.

Examples of medical malpractice include the following:

  • Unnecessary surgery
  • Surgical errors
  • Improper medications or dosages
  • Failure to follow-up
  • Failure to order proper testing
  • Misdiagnosis

Key Components of a Medical Malpractice Claim

There are three components of a medical malpractice claim. A legitimate malpractice claim includes the following:

  • Standard of care. Under the law, a physician who fails to provide the kind of care that any other reasonable physician would have provided under the same circumstances is guilty of negligence.
  • Resulting injury. In order to be considered medical malpractice, the physician's error must cause injury to the patient.
  • Significant damages. The injury sustained by the physician's negligence must have a substantial effect on the patient's well-being, physically and/or mentally, to be defined as malpractice.

In order to win a medical malpractice lawsuit, you must prove that these three components occurred. The level of damages will determine the amount of compensation that you receive.

What to Do Before You File a Lawsuit

Medical malpractice lawsuits can be difficult to manage and prove. If you feel that your doctor is guilty of negligence, begin by taking the following steps:

  • Contact an attorney. Medical malpractice lawsuits are complicated. Find an attorney who specializes in medical malpractice. An attorney can mean the difference between being appropriately compensated for your damages and receiving nothing. Many attorneys offer free consultations, take advantage of these offers.
  • Contact the doctor involved. Before filing a lawsuit it is important that you understand what happened and clear up any miscommunication. In some cases, the doctor may be able to treat injuries or correct mistakes.
  • Contact the medical licensing board. If your doctor is not willing or able to resolve the problem, you should contact the medical licensing board for further assistance. They may be able to offer advice about how to proceed and may decide to take disciplinary action against the physician.
  • Gather your medical records. Your case will be decided, in great part, based on your medical records. Any negligent or reckless behavior by your doctor will be evident in your records. It is a good idea to have your own copies. You will also need to sign releases for your attorney and the court to gather the records due to privacy laws.
  • Consider settlements. Your doctor's insurance company may offer an out-of-court settlement amount to prevent a costly lawsuit. Lawsuits can be expensive and time-consuming and there is no guarantee of the outcome. If you're offered a settlement, you should consider it carefully.

A medical malpractice lawsuit can be a long, stressful ordeal, but a necessary ordeal if you've been victimized by the negligence of a medical professional. You're supposed to be able to trust your doctor to act in your best interest and when they fail to protect you, a lawsuit can not only provide compensation for damages, but can also hold that physician accountable for their actions.

If you have suffered because of errors made by your doctor, go to websites and use the information in this article to help you determine if a lawsuit is necessary and appropriate, to understand the components of medical malpractice and to prepare you for filing a claim.