According to research from John Hopkins University, medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease and cancer. Billions of dollars are spent every year in medical malpractice payouts, averaging to more than one payment per hour. Medical malpractice suits are surprisingly common. So what exactly is a medical malpractice suit, and how should you move forward if you want to file one?
What are the elements of a medical malpractice claim?
A medical malpractice claim exists if a medical provider’s negligence causes injury or damages to a patient. Keep in mind that “negligence” must be distinguished from a “bad outcome” in order to pursue a claim. Although doctors, nurses, and hospitals typically make small numbers of mistakes, failure to provide proper healthcare is more likely in certain situations, notably surgical procedures, early discharge, symptom identification, and the misreading of laboratory results.
Hospital insurance companies attempt to prevent future suits by providing opportunities for settlements without litigation. If you believe you’ve received injuries resulting from medical malpractice, do not sign any settlement agreements before speaking to your lawyer. Settlements allow insurance companies to avoid suits by paying the injured person a predetermined amount and preventing the injured person from hiring an attorney.
What should you do if you’ve been injured?
You should decline signing these settlement agreements because your lawyer will likely be able to negotiate a higher settlement. If you suspect you were injured through medical malpractice, contact an experienced malpractice attorney as soon as possible. It can be difficult to find an attorney on a short notice, so try to search for personal injury or medical malpractice attorneys in your area, with phrases like “personal injury lawyers in Salem, OR.” A simple Google search will yield a number of results. To find the best lawyer, read reviews and testimonials left by past clients with cases similar to yours.
Meet with your attorney to discuss details about the case, secure medical records, and interview witnesses. Your malpractice attorney then determines whether you have an actionable medical malpractice claim. If your case is actionable, you can begin working on a settlement. You should feel comfortable discussing your case with your attorney, so do some searching before deciding on the right lawyer.
How can you avoid future medical malpractice?
The first step you can take to avoid future incidences of medical malpractice is to read hospital reviews. This helps you distinguish the good from the bad, and some reviews may even note incidences of medical malpractice. You should only choose a hospital with an overwhelming majority of positive reviews in order to avoid potential malpractice.
Don’t be afraid to be proactive about your medical care. Document your symptoms and conduct research of your own to help you understand your health conditions, and don’t hesitate to express any questions or concerns to your doctor. Your doctor should be able to supply you with full, complete, and clear answers.
Additionally, you should tell your healthcare provider if something seems wrong. It’s not uncommon to voice a symptom and have it be ignored by your doctor, so if you think it’s something more serious, then speak up. If you’re intimidated by the medical system, ask a family member or friend to accompany you to your appointments to boost your confidence.
If you feel like you’ve experienced medical malpractice, check the relevant statute of limitations and contact an attorney near you immediately. On the other hand, if you’re unsure whether you’re receiving proper care from your current healthcare provider, start searching for a new one. You should feel comfortable talking about any concerns with your doctor, and your doctor should always give you adequate treatment and attention.