Medical malpractice can lead to severe, debilitating conditions or even death. Fortunately, cases of medical professional error are in the minority, but enough occur to lead many patients each year to seek medical malpractice attorneys.
But what exactly is medical malpractice? Is a simple mistake considered medical malpractice? The first part of the following checklist will help you determine whether you might have a valid case of medical malpractice or simply a common medical error.
The second section of the checklist will show you what to do once you have made it through the first part of the checklist and determined that you may have a medical malpractice case. Contact a medical malpractice attorney today to receive your free consultation.
Checklist Part 1
This initial section of the checklist features a series of questions that will help identify the existence of medical malpractice. Ultimately, you will need to consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney to determine the validity of your claim.
Was I Under the Care of the Medical Professional Who Committed the Error?
To have medical malpractice, the medical professional who caused your injuries must have provided you with medical care.
Did the Error Breach the Standard of Care?
As stated, simple mistakes are not medical malpractice. Medical malpractice must involve negligence. Was the mistake one that most people in the professional’s position would make? Or was it an error of negligence worth sanctioning? Ultimately, medical experts and potentially a jury will answer this question.
Did the Error Cause My Injury?
In medical malpractice cases, the injury victim must prove that the medical professional’s medical negligence caused their injuries. For example, if you suffer a stroke after a dentist does work on you, you must prove how the negligent work caused your stroke.
Again, experts will be involved, but some cases are obvious, for instance, the negligent removal of the wrong organ.
Did I Have a Preexisting Condition That May Affect My Case?
In some cases, a preexisting condition may cloud the claims process, although Florida law allows patients with preexisting conditions to recover compensation from negligent professionals.
If you have a preexisting condition, you must demonstrate that the medical professional’s negligence worsened the condition, which can be a challenge, depending on the injury and its documentation.
Did I Suffer Any Damages Because of the Error?
All medical malpractice cases seek to award damages to the victim of negligence by a medical professional. Florida recognizes both economic and non-economic damages. In some cases, punitive damages may apply.
Economic and non-economic damages may cover:
- Medical expenses
- Income loss
- Assistive-help expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of capacity for enjoyment of life
As you might imagine, non-economic damages are more complex for a medical malpractice lawyer to verify than economic ones. There is no receipt for pain and suffering like there is for medical expenses.
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Checklist Part 2
If, after going through the first part of the checklist, you feel that you may be the victim of medical malpractice, the following steps will help you get the compensation you deserve.
Acting with haste will help safeguard your right to compensation and prevent your valid claim from expiring under the two-year statute of limitations and the four-year statute of repose. The first is a time limit that requires victims to file their claim within two years of discovering their injury. The second gives an overall time limit of four years.
However, in cases of fraud or acts of deceit used to prevent discovery of the harm, the overall time limit extends to seven years.
Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney
Contact a medical malpractice attorney for your free initial consultation if you suspect medical malpractice. Before arriving, you should complete this checklist, which will be extremely helpful for your lawyer.
Gather Your Medical Records
Your claim is utterly dependent upon your medical record and the history of treatment you have received. Gathering this record and other evidence of treatment, such as prescriptions, before the meeting with your medical malpractice lawyer will give your malpractice lawsuit a head start.
Make Lists of Important Things
Also helpful for your medical malpractice attorney are lists. They are easy to reference and help in the pursuance of your case.
Useful items include:
- Every prescription and OTC drug you have taken in the past two years
- Every appointment you have been to in the past two to three years
- Every medical professional who has treated you in the past two years
This information will allow your medical malpractice lawyer to take substantial steps toward recovering compensation for you.
Your friends, family, or colleagues likely know of your injuries and losses. Their testimony will help establish much of your claim, including non-economic damages, such as loss of capacity for enjoyment of life.
At no time should you reach out to the health care staff who treated you. During a case of medical malpractice, your interests do not align, no matter how friendly they have been.
Bills are part of your losses. Your claim could recover anything you spend to treat your injury.
You should gather and organize all medical treatment receipts and receipts for prescription drugs, hospital stays, and tests for your medical malpractice lawyer. Also recoverable are gasoline bills and other outlays for transportation to and from appointments for medical care related to your injury.
Medical malpractice cases require a more in-depth claims procedure than other personal injury cases. You need an experienced professional who fights for your claim at every stage of the process.
Contact a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible for your free consultation and seek the most compensation available for your damages.
Consult an Attorney
Either before or after you have prepared your notes, speak to a medical malpractice attorney. Your preparation will help the attorney decide whether there is a case to pursue, but try not to “rush to judgment.” A competent lawyer will be able to advise you whether the facts indicate medical negligence or simply an unfortunate result. You should not do anything beyond preparing your notes without consulting with an experienced personal injury lawyer. If you work fast, the attorney may be able to recommend a “second opinion” doctor for continuing treatment.
Your consultation does not have to be about your own medical treatment. If you suspect wrongful death in the case of a loved one, meet with an experienced medical negligence attorney as soon as possible. In your time of suffering and grief, it can be easy to put off seeking justice. However, if you or your loved one is truly a victim of medical malpractice, your early actions will ensure your legal right to obtain full compensation for your injuries and may protect future patients from becoming victims in the first place.