When an individual experiences an injury, illness, or other medical condition, they expect their healthcare providers to take their concerns seriously and provide the medical treatment they need to recover. In most cases, providers are competent and compassionate professionals who strive to protect the health, safety, and well-being of their patients. However, when a healthcare provider or facility fails to accurately diagnose or treat a patient’s condition and the patient suffers harm as a result, the patient can pursue compensation in a medical malpractice claim.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Medical Malpractice Case?
Medical malpractice cases tend to be incredibly complicated and involve numerous procedural matters. The insurance companies that cover healthcare providers are always represented by skilled and aggressive attorneys who are motivated to pay out as little as possible. This means they will fiercely challenge your claim and may even engage in dishonest, manipulative tactics to minimize your injury, reduce your damages, or refuse to offer a settlement at all.
Attempting to handle a claim on your own leaves you vulnerable to committing any number of serious mistakes that can prevent you from winning your case and recovering the maximum compensation.
How to Find the Best Medical Malpractice Attorney Near You
Because medical malpractice is a highly specialized practice area, you must select an attorney with many years of experience in handling these cases. You can begin by talking to your friends, family members, and other trusted individuals who filed medical malpractice claims to determine which attorneys they worked with, the experiences they had, and the results they obtained. Using this list as a starting point, research medical malpractice attorneys in your area by reading attorney directories, websites, and review platforms. The American Bar Association will also have the names of attorneys licensed to practice this field of law and provide information on whether they have ever been professionally disciplined.
While performing your research, keep the following questions in mind:
- -Is this attorney a specialist in medical malpractice law?
- -Do they have a background in the medical field?
- -What kind of education, training, or experience do they have specific to medical malpractice?
- -Can you find case studies of successful claims or testimonials from past clients?
The right attorney will respectfully listen to your concerns, be willing to answer your questions honestly, and take time to explain the important components of your case. You should feel comfortable discussing details about your medical condition with them and confident that they will protect your best interests.
Q: How hard is it to prove medical malpractice?
A: To prove medical malpractice, you must establish four elements of negligence:
- –The healthcare provider owed you a duty of care. When you seek medical care from a provider and they agree to treat you, this establishes a doctor-patient relationship and legally obligates them to adhere to a duty of care. Duty of care is defined as following the standards set by the medical community for diagnosing and treating a medical condition.
- –The healthcare provider violated this duty of care. A duty of care violation occurs when a healthcare provider fails to provide the same level of care, skill, or diligence that would be expected from a reasonably prudent and similarly trained provider in the same geographic location under similar circumstances.
- –This duty of care violation caused your injury. You must demonstrate that the defendant’s actions (or failure to act when appropriate) directly caused your injury and that you would not have sustained this injury in the absence of such negligence.
- –You incurred certain compensable damages due to your injury. You may recover damages in the form of medical expenses (past, current, and future), lost income, lost earning potential, pain and suffering, disability, permanent scarring or disfigurement, loss of companionship, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Q: How long do I have to file a medical malpractice claim?
A: The statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice claim in California is three years from the date that you sustained the injury. If the injury was not apparent right away, the statute of limitations is one year from the date that you discovered the injury or the date that you would have been expected to discover the injury with reasonable diligence. Certain extenuating circumstances (such as fraud) may extend the window beyond three years.
Q: What is the likelihood of winning a medical malpractice lawsuit?
A: Medical malpractice cases are notoriously difficult to win. Hiring an experienced attorney and taking your case to court significantly increases your chances of success. Martindale-Nolo Research performed a survey in 2017 that asked plaintiffs in recent malpractice claims about their experiences. Only 10% of respondents without legal representation recovered compensation, but this figure nearly doubles to 17% for those who secured an attorney. Plaintiffs who filed a claim in court were over four times as likely to recover compensation than those who did not proceed with a claim. Even if the case did not go to trial, simply initiating the discovery process puts plaintiffs in a better position to negotiate with insurance companies.
Q: Are some medical malpractice cases easier to win than others?
A: The Martindale-Nolo Research survey cited above also found that specific types of malpractice claims are more likely to result in pay-outs than others. 27% of plaintiffs who experienced medical errors recovered compensation, compared to 13% for surgical/procedural errors and 5% for diagnostic/treatment errors. Plaintiffs who filed a claim against a doctor or hospital had a lower chance at recovering compensation (4% and 6%) than those who filed claims against other kinds of healthcare providers (26%).
Secure Expert Legal Representation
If you are considering pursuing a medical malpractice claim, the Law Office of Kenneth M. Sigelman can help you understand your options and achieve the best outcome in your case. Attorney Sigelman is not only an award-winning trial attorney, but also a licensed medical doctor, meaning he has an in-depth understanding of the medical field that few other lawyers can match. As one of the most sought-after firms in the area, our team has more than seven decades of combined experience representing clients in California, Florida, and before the US Supreme Court. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and get started on your case.