Every year, thousands of people throughout the United States suffer injuries because of incorrectly performed medical treatment. “Medical malpractice” is the legal term that applies to any situation where a medical provider fails to meet a patient’s standard of care. In California, an injured patient has the right to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against a doctor, nurse, anesthesiologist, or any other medical provider who has harmed them. However, navigating any medical malpractice lawsuit is very difficult. While these cases fall under the purview of personal injury, medical malpractice claims are much more complex than most other personal injury claims.
It is always best to have a medical malpractice attorney with experience handle your claim. The right attorney can help you navigate the procedural aspects of the case, assist you in gathering the information you will need to supply with your claim, and ultimately guide you to the best possible result for your situation. However, many people may wonder whether they can handle their claims on their own. While this path is risky, it can potentially prevent the need to pay attorneys’ fees when you need to recover as much as possible for your damages. If you are going to attempt to file a medical malpractice lawsuit on your own, you must know the steps to complete for the claim to succeed.
First Steps in a Malpractice Claim
Before you proceed with a medical malpractice claim, it’s a good idea to try to work out a solution with the medical provider involved. If something went wrong in recent treatment and you sustained an injury, speaking with your doctor could help you understand what happened. In most cases, doctors in this situation are typically willing to correct their errors at a very low cost or free of charge. Speak with the medical provider involved in your claim before proceeding with any direct legal action. Working out a solution in this way could help you obtain swifter corrective treatment and may ultimately be easier than pursuing a medical malpractice claim on your own.
Suppose you believe you need to proceed with a medical malpractice lawsuit after speaking with the medical professional in question. In that case, you should contact their medical review board as soon as possible. The board must review your claim to determine whether malpractice did indeed occur. Suppose the board reviews your case and determines that you did experience medical malpractice. In that case, they will likely issue disciplinary action against the medical provider responsible for your injury and provide guidance for your next steps.
Compiling Your Evidence and Filing Your Case
After the appropriate medical licensing board has reviewed your claim, you should meet with other medical providers who can assess your situation. Speaking with an experienced doctor who can accurately determine whether you experienced malpractice can significantly bolster the credibility and viability of your medical malpractice claim. You may need to undergo various medical examinations and tests for these outside medical professionals to evaluate you. However, the effort will translate to an overall more effective claim that is more likely to succeed.
California enforces a two-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims, and this time limit begins on the date an injury occurs. While this may seem like plenty of time, you must understand that the medical board review and medical examinations you will need to complete can potentially take months to conclude. Once you have the evidence and support you need to file your medical malpractice claim, you can file the lawsuit. The majority of medical malpractice claims filed in California settle privately, and your odds of success directly hinge on the strength of your evidence.
Q: How Do I Sue for Medical Malpractice in California?
A: Following the aforementioned steps forms the foundation of a medical malpractice claim. Success with your claim hinges on your ability to prove the four elements of medical malpractice: duty, dereliction of duty, damage, and direct cause. In addition, you must be prepared to gather extensive supporting evidence and navigate complex procedural rules to succeed with your claim.
Q: What Is the Best Way to Start a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
A: While it is technically possible to file and win a medical malpractice lawsuit, the best way to start any medical malpractice lawsuit is to contact a skilled medical malpractice lawyer. Your legal team can provide valuable guidance that will help you navigate the various stages of the case and will increase your chance of success with the claim. If you intend to file your claim on your own, gather as much evidence and documentation pertaining to your injury as possible and contact the medical licensing board with jurisdiction over the medical professional in question.
Q: Can You Sue a Doctor Directly?
A: Medical malpractice claims are quite different from most other personal injury claims. You cannot simply file a lawsuit in court against a doctor who injured you. You must first issue a Notice to the doctor informing them that you believe they have committed medical malpractice against you. This provides an early opportunity for the doctor to correct the issue, if possible, without the need for protracted legal proceedings. If you intend to follow through with your lawsuit, you will need to have the doctor’s medical licensing board review your claim and approve it for legal action.
Q: How Long Do You Have to File a Malpractice Suit in California?
A: The statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims in California is two years from the date the injury occurred. However, the discovery rule may apply in some cases. This rule pertains to any situation in which the harm from medical malpractice is not immediately noticeable. In such cases, the statute of limitations begins when the victim discovers the harm in question.
Ultimately, navigating any civil claim without legal representation is incredibly challenging, especially for medical malpractice claims. These cases entail special rules and legal mechanisms not found in other personal injury claims. While you may be tempted to try to file your medical malpractice claim on your own, you have a much better chance of success when you have an experienced attorney on your side. If you believe you have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit in California, contact Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates to schedule a consultation with our team and learn more about what a medical malpractice attorney with significant experience can do for you.