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How Do I Know If I Qualify For Medical Malpractice?

Disastrous medical malpractice suits dominate the headlines and make everyone nervous about what might go wrong with their own medical care. Whenever a surgeon leaves a sponge or tool inside the body or operates on the wrong leg, it’s pretty clear that something went wrong and someone needs to be held accountable.

But what if the case isn’t quite as dramatic or clear? How do you know if your own experience qualifies as an instance of medical malpractice? Without consulting with a legal professional, you might not be able to tell for sure if your case would make you eligible for possible compensation from your medical provider. However, you may be able to get a pretty good idea by learning about medical malpractice suits and what does or doesn’t qualify.  

Duty and Negligence

The first requirement for medical malpractice is a negative outcome. You have to have experienced significant suffering or extra unexpected medical costs to be able to pursue a viable claim against the provider responsible. The usually more challenging requirement, however, is negligence.

To be guilty of medical malpractice, your doctor or another medical professional must have caused your suffering or expenses by their own medical negligence. Negligence refers to anything a doctor does or doesn’t do that fails to meet a reasonable standard of care as a medical professional. As a doctor with their level of education and knowledge, they have a duty to give each patient the best care they can. If they are negligent and don’t meet the standard of quality you could expect from other doctors, then they might be liable.

Examples of Malpractice

If a surgeon makes a huge mistake in an operation like leaving a dangerous instrument in your body or operating in the wrong place, that’s self-evidently a negligent act. Those are careless mistakes that any well-trained and alert surgeon will avoid. 

It can also count as negligence if you are misdiagnosed or if the doctor does not follow accepted protocol in your treatment. If they ignore obvious signs of illness or fail to conduct the tests that most other doctors would ask for in a given situation, then they aren’t meeting a reasonable standard of care. When a doctor is aware of your allergies and ignores them to your detriment, they might be liable for that as well. 

Even if your unpleasant results from a procedure are normal results, you may still have a viable claim against your provider if they failed to adequately inform you of what the results would be. Without your full consent to the operation, it can be counted as malpractice. You have to be properly informed and aware of all the normal consequences and risks in order to legitimately offer your consent. 

Proving Your Case

Not every negative medical outcome you have will count as medical malpractice. Mistakes happen in healthcare, and not everything turns out well. Some procedures are risky and sometimes even the best doctors make legitimate mistakes. For your experience to qualify as medical malpractice and earn you compensation, you will have to provide clear evidence of medical malpractice. 

Expert testimony is an absolute necessity in these sorts of cases. You need other medical professionals to help you show what the standard of care should have required in your situation and how your doctor fell short. You will also need to use records of your treatment and testimony from other qualified people to show how the doctor, nurse or surgeon’s negligence directly contributed to or outright caused you unnecessary suffering. 

Once you’ve proved that your provider failed in some way and that it caused you significant pain and suffering, you’ll need to gather the evidence to document the exact extent of your costs and suffering. 

How Damages Are Determined

Serious medical malpractice suits can bring enormous rewards that can be instrumental in helping victims recover from the hurt and expenses they’ve suffered. Medical malpractice payouts in 2018 added up to a total of more than $4 billion. 

The amount of money you could receive in your case will depend on a number of factors. The easiest to calculate will be any damages directly tied to your own expenses and monetary loss. The court can use your bills and records of lost wages and more to assess how much you should be given to help you recover financially. You can count any money you would’ve been able to earn if it hadn’t been for your medical provider’s negligence. 

A large part of your damages and compensation, however, will be based on less easily measured impacts. You will be compensated for the pain and suffering you went through and for any additional stress and pain it caused to your family and familial relationships. Your own testimony and that of others around you will be helpful pieces of evidence. You can talk to a lawyer to assess what sort of reward you can expect for your particular situation. 

Why You Should Find Help

Going through the process of a lawsuit can be an extremely time-consuming and expensive process. It might only be worthwhile if your damages were significant and you need compensation. Working with an attorney can help you determine the strength of your case and how worthwhile pursuing it would be. 

If you decide to fight your claim, a lawyer who specializes in medical malpractice can assist you in gathering evidence and doing the actual legwork of fighting the case. The liable party may offer you compensation to settle your claim without going to court. In that case, you won’t even have to go to trial, and the lawyer can make sure you get the highest settlement possible. Otherwise, the insurance company may try to take advantage of you or offer less than you deserve. 

If you’ve been hurt by a negligent medical professional, you deserve support. Inform yourself so that you can make the right choice for you and your family, but don’t hesitate to stand up for yourself and demand the compensation you deserve how you were wronged. 


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