When someone is injured or dies in a medical setting--either
because of a medical professional's actions or because of their
inaction--a patient or his or her family will often consider a
medical malpractice lawsuit. A medical malpractice attorney can
review the specific facts in your situation and help determine if
you have a viable medical malpractice lawsuit.
Doctors, nurses, dentists, technicians, hospitals, and hospital
workers can all commit medical malpractice, according to the
American Bar Association.
Do You Have a Medical Malpractice Case?
Medical malpractice is a form of personal injury law, and you'll
want to be represented by either medical malpractice lawyers or
personal injury attorneys who have experience handling medical
At a basic level, you must prove two things to be successful in a
medical malpractice case:
- The doctor or medical professional treating you made a mistake
- You were harmed as a result of that mistake
In determining whether the medical professional made a mistake, the
court will look at the medical standard of care. In other words,
what is the generally accepted method of treating patients in your
area with similar medical problems? For example, the standard of
care for a 90-year-old dementia patient in California would not
necessarily be the same standard of care as for a 45-year-old
dementia patient in Florida.
Not only must you show that the doctor's act or omission was a
mistake, but you must also prove that this mistake injured you. In
other words, you probably do not have a valid medical malpractice
claim if your doctor treated you according to the medical standard
of care in your area. And you probably would not have a valid
medical malpractice claim if you were not harmed by the doctor's
treatment, even if it did violate the standard of care.
How Long Do You Have to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
Every state has a statute of limitations, or time period in which
you can file a civil lawsuit against another party, such as a
doctor or nurse. Your medical malpractice attorney can tell you the
statute of limitations in your state.
If you and your medical malpractice lawyer are unable to negotiate
a settlement with the person at fault in your medical malpractice
case, you must file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations
runs out. Once the statute of limitations passes, you will be
barred from filing a lawsuit and recovering any money.
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