Medical malpractice claims often involve negligent conduct on the part of:
- Nurses; or
- Other healthcare professionals.
In order to prove medical malpractice, a plaintiff must show that they suffered injuries due to the medical professional’s breach of their duty of care. These standards vary depending on the professional’s:
- Line of work;
- Educational background; and
- Medical experience.
Examples of medical malpractice may include, but are not limited to:
- Prescribing incorrect medications;
- Giving incorrect medical advice;
- Performing the wrong surgery; and
- Reckless handling of a patient’s body.
What is Medical Malpractice Liability?
Medical malpractice liability governs which individuals or parties should be held legally responsible for the injuries a patient sustained. This is typically the individual or party who breached their duty of care and was the actual cause of the injuries to the patient.
Determining exactly who the liable parties are is often a complex task. It may involve multiple parties. In some cases, hospital organizations can also sometimes be held liable for malpractice, especially in cases where the overall quality of care or policies of the hospital are substandard.
What Kinds of Questions Will a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Ask?
Medical malpractice claims are a type of claim which is brought when a patient has received poor medical treatment, has been harmed, or has received a misdiagnosis from their healthcare provider. The questions will ultimately change depending upon the facts of a case.
However, in general, an individual should be prepared for their medical malpractice lawyer to ask for a complete summary of what occurred, which should include reasons why and what the individual believes a caregiver did wrong.
Medical malpractice is most often associated with physicians making mistakes when they treat patients. However, the scope of medical malpractice encompasses much more than that.
Medical malpractice may include:
- Lack of treatments; or
- Other departures from the accepted standard of care on the part of healthcare professionals which results in harm to patient, including:
- health care;
- medical care; or
Medical malpractice liability refers to the individuals who are held legally responsible for a patient’s injuries. This typically includes the party who breached the duty of care and was the actual case of injuries to the patient. In some cases, it may be difficult to determine exactly who the liable parties are.
Did a Doctor-Patient Relationship Exist?
In order for a plaintiff to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit, a doctor patient relationship must exist. An individual will not be expected to know the answer to whether this relationship existed when they visit their attorney.
The attorney will ask their client questions in order to determine whether or not a doctor-patient relationship did, in fact, exist. Questions that an attorney may ask regarding this issue include:
- Did you seek out care from the provider?
- Did the physician treat you directly?
- Did the physician or other healthcare professional provide treatment?
It is important to note that this relationship may include any healthcare provider, such as:
- Hospitals and
- Other medical workers.
What Do You Think the Doctor Did Wrong?
What the client believes the doctor did wrong is an important question because a mistake does not always constitute negligence. An individual’s medical malpractice attorney will have to determine whether or not there was a breach of the standard of care required for the treatment which was sought.
The patient must be able to show that the healthcare professional was negligent and caused harm in such a way that a similar, competent doctor in similar circumstances would not have. Questions an attorney might ask include:
- 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 regarding known risks?
It is important to note that these questions may change based upon the specific facts of the case because the level of the standard of care may vary depending upon the health concerns raised and the circumstances of each patient.
Did You Have Any Pre-Existing Conditions?
In order for an individual to prove negligence, a medical malpractice case requires proof that the medical professional’s negligent conduct caused the specific injury claimed in the medical malpractice lawsuit.
A pre-existing condition may affect the degree of fault of the healthcare provider, so it is important for an individual to be prepared to answer questions regarding any pre-existing conditions. An attorney may ask:
- Did the healthcare professional’s actions directly cause the injury or was the injury related to a pre-existing condition?
- Do you have any pre-existing conditions which may affect the injury sustained?
- Did the healthcare professional take into consideration any pre-existing conditions when providing treatment?
How Has This Affected Your Life?
Even if it is determined that a medical professional was negligent and that negligence caused injury to the patient, the patient will be required to prove that the injury caused specific damages. Medical malpractice attorneys may ask questions such as:
- Did the injury cause physical pain?
- What about mental anguish?
- Were there medical bills or other related costs?
- Are there any lost wages and/or future earning capacity issues?
When Was the Injury First Discovered?
As with any legal claim, timing is very important. In most cases, medical malpractice claims must be filed fairly quickly.
Depending upon the state, the statute of limitations, or time limit for filing a claim, can range anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. If the lawsuit is not brought within that time, the case will be dismissed, no matter the facts.
It is important to note that the statute of limitations typically begins running at the time the injury is first discovered.
Who Are Your Health Care Providers?
It is important to be able to provide a list of all healthcare providers. This includes any providers who have treated any pre-existing conditions that are relevant to the claim.
Medical malpractice attorneys will need to request medical records from each provider that an individual saw for the health condition that is the basis of their claim.
Should I Be Prepared to Gather All Relevant Documents?
Yes, it is important to be prepared to gather all relevant documents, as well as those which may not seem relevant. In addition to all of the medical records an individual’s attorney will need to request, the attorney will also want to examine any other pertinent documents.
Documents may include, but are not limited to:
- Letters from doctors;
- Medical bills, even if they were already paid by insurance;
- Photographs of the individual’s condition;
- Name and contact information of any health insurance providers;
- Any correspondence from health insurance providers; and
- Proof of lost wages.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help With Medical Malpractice Issues?
It is essential to have the assistance of a personal injury lawyer for your medical malpractice claim. These types of cases are very complex and the laws which govern them vary by state.
If you or a loved one believe you have been a victim of medical malpractice, it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer will assist you during all aspects of the lawsuit process and represent you when you must appear in court.