Medical malpractice claims are brought when patients have been harmed, received poor medical treatment, or received a misdiagnosis from a health care provider. Ultimately, the questions asked will mold around the facts of the case, but, in general, be prepared for a medical malpractice lawyer to ask for a complete summary of what happened, which should include reasons why and what you think a caregiver did wrong.
Did a Doctor-Patient Relationship Exist?
In order to bring a medical malpractice suit, a doctor-patient relationship must exist. Don’t worry about being expected to know the answer to this question right when you walk in the door, but a medical malpractice lawyer will ask questions to find out whether a doctor-patient relationship did in fact exist. Did you seek out care from the provider? Did the physician treat you directly? Keep in mind that this relationship can include any healthcare provider, not just doctors, including nurses, technicians, hospitals, or other medical workers.
What Do You Think the Doctor Did Wrong?
This is an equally important guided question because mistakes don’t always equate to negligence. A medical malpractice attorney will need to determine whether there was a breach of the standard of care required for such sought treatment. A patient must be able to show the doctor was negligent (caused the harm) in a way that another competent doctor, in similar circumstances, would not have been.
Did the doctor fail to diagnose an illness that, if diagnosed properly, would have led to a different outcome? Did the doctor give you improper treatment? Did the doctor fail to warn you of known risks? Again, these questions will change based on the specific facts of each case, as levels of standard of care vary based on the health concerns involved and the circumstances surrounding each patient.
Did You Have Any Pre-Existing Conditions?
In order for negligence to be proved, medical malpractice cases require proof the doctor’s negligence caused the specific injury stemming from the medical malpractice suit. Pre-existing conditions could affect the varying degree of fault on behalf of a health care provider, so be prepared to answer questions regarding these pre-existing conditions. Did the doctor’s actions directly cause the injury or was the injury related to a pre-existing condition?
How Has This Affected Your Life?
Even if negligence is found on behalf of the medical provider and even if it’s found the negligence caused injury, a patient still needs to prove the injury led to specific damages. A medical malpractice attorney will want to know whether the injury caused physical pain? What about mental anguish? Medical bills or other related costs? Lost wages and/or future earning capacity?
When Was the Injury First Discovered?
As with any case, timing is important. Medical malpractice claims, more often than not, need to be brought fairly quickly. Depending on the state, this can be anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. If a medical malpractice suit is not brought within the appropriate statute of limitations, the case will be dismissed, regardless of the facts of the case. Keep in mind it’s not necessarily the timing of the treatment that triggers the statute of limitations, but rather when an injury was first discovered.
Who Are Your Health Care Providers?
Be able to provide a list of all your health care providers, including any providers that treated any pre-existing conditions that are relevant to the case at hand. A medical malpractice attorney will need to request records from each provider that you saw for the treated health condition.
Be Prepared to Gather All Relevant Documents
In addition to all the medical records your attorney will ultimately need to request, your medical malpractice attorney will also want to see any other pertinent documents. This can include, but is not limited to, letters from doctors, medical bills (even if they’ve already been paid by insurance), photographs of your condition, the name and contact information for any health insurance providers, along with any correspondence from said health insurance providers, and, if applicable, proof of lost wages.
Getting the Help You Need
Medical malpractice cases are very case specific and the laws vary state to state. If you or a loved one have received improper medical care, a medical malpractice lawyer can help navigate the complexities involved.