Medical Malpractice: What Victims Need To Know

Law Blog

There is no greater priority for most people than their own health and the health of their family. When you entrust the health of you or your family to a doctor, you expect that you will be in safe, responsible hands, but mistakes and negligence happen. If you believe that you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice, this article will answer your questions about how to determine if you have a valid claim, why it's important to hire a medical malpractice attorney and how to prevent being victimized by negligent physicians in the future.

How to Determine if You Have a Case

Medical malpractice is a controversial issue. Over that last couple of decades, laws have been changed, updated and changed again. Not every example of physician error is a slam dunk case and before you set your mind to filing a lawsuit, there are some important issues to consider.

In 2009, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, there were 10,739 medical malpractice payouts. However, the number of claims filed was over 85,000. With more focus being directed to frivolous lawsuits, medical malpractice claims are decreasing.

To ensure that your claim is worth pursuing, consider the following:

  • Did you recover? If the answer is yes and you did not experience any permanent or ongoing damages to your physical well-being, the likelihood of winning a lawsuit is slim to none.
  • Was your health comprised by other factors? If your health was complicated due to medical error, but you have other issues such as obesity or a smoking habit that could have contributed to the problem, your claim will be weakened.
  • Did you receive standard care? Your doctor may have been rude or nasty, but as long as they did not cause significant damage, you did not receive sub-standard care.
  • Was your outcome explained as a potential risk prior to care? If you suffered known possible complications from a medical procedure, there was no malpractice. There are risks involved with surgery that cannot be avoided in every case.
  • What is your real motivation? Do you feel that only a lawsuit will get you the answers you want? Before going on the offensive with a malpractice claim, try talking to your physician directly to get the answers you need.

Be sure to consider these questions before investing your time and energy into an event as stressful as a lawsuit.

Why It's Important to Hire a Medical Malpractice Attorney

The only way to be sure that you have a claim that is worth pursuing is to consult an experienced attorney. They will not only determine if you have a case, but will also discuss the entire process of a lawsuit or settlement offer with you.

It is important to hire an attorney who specializes in medical malpractice for the following reasons:

  • Complicated medical evidence. An experienced attorney will understand medical evidence and how to present it.
  • Pressure from your doctor's insurance company. Your attorney will know how to negotiate with your doctor's insurance company and will also prevent you from feeling pressured to take an offer that is not adequate.
  • To hire medical experts. Many physicians do not want to be involved in medical malpractice lawsuits. Those that are willing are hard to locate, but an experienced attorney already has a list of doctors that they work with.
  • Lawsuits are expensive. Your attorney knows exactly how much medical malpractice suits cost and is willing to take on those costs until you win your case, at which time they will collect their fee.

Your attorney will represent you and your best interests. They only win if you win. They know how to navigate the courtroom and how to negotiate with insurance companies. Rely on your attorney to support you through the entire process.

How to Prevent Medical Malpractice in the Future

Many people feel they are at the mercy of their doctors. They treat doctors as authority figures, but in reality, your physician works for you.

To prevent medical malpractice, remember the following:

  • Be your own best advocate. Don't forget to speak up for yourself. It is within your rights to ask and have answered any questions that you might have. If you do not feel comfortable with a diagnosis or decision made by your doctor, let them know immediately. It is just as important to listen to your body and intuition as it is to listen to trusted medical professional.
  • Do your homework. Research your medical conditions, document your symptoms, and talk to your doctor about your concerns. It's important for you to understand your health and investigating your doctor's advice can only help. Don't be afraid to get a second opinion.
  • Communicate. In order for your doctor to know what you want and need, you need to tell them. Don't forget to share new symptoms, general concerns and preferences for treatments.

Your doctor should not be making decisions for you, they should be making decisions with you. If you do not feel comfortable with your relationship with your doctor, find a new one.

Trust and open communication are extremely important in a doctor-patient relationship and your health depends on it. Never just assume that your doctor is doing the right thing for you, make sure you understand what your options are, why you need treatment and what you can expect from your medical care.

Medical malpractice is a serious issue and lawsuits are often full of controversy and tension. It is extremely important that you make an educated decision about filing a lawsuit, have a representative to protect your legal rights and protect yourself from future malpractice.

Use the information in this article to decide if pursuing a medical malpractice claim with the help of lawyers such as Hinkle Law Offices is necessary and to inform your future relationships with medical professionals.


5 August 2014