The last person you expect to contribute to your health problems is your doctor, but sometimes, it does happen. When a physician makes a mistake that deviates from the normal, expected course of care, and this mistake causes you harm, you may be able to pursue a case of medical malpractice. Physicians do their best to provide the best standard of medical care, but when they don't, and become negligent, they are responsible for any harm that occurs.
If you think your doctor has made an error, you might be wondering what steps to take. The thought of pursuing a malpractice case intimidates many people, or they might think that taking the doctor to court would be too expensive. The fact is, many personal injury lawyers charge a fee only if they win the case, and they have the skills needed to face the big insurance companies. As you think about how to begin your malpractice case, you may wish to take advantage of the following steps.
Contact the physician responsible
The first thing you may want to do after you have had an avoidable complication is to contact the doctor who treated you. You might find that the physician is willing to admit the error and take steps to help you. Sometimes, the doctor will treat you for free if he was at fault for your complication.
Report your case to the board
Additionally, you may want to report the incident to the relevant medical licensing board. These boards keep a record of each doctor's performance, and if problems occur frequently, or if the error was serious enough, the doctor may have his license revoked.
Double check with an expert
If you feel that you need to take the case further, and get the courts involved, depending on your state, you need to confirm with an expert that the damages you experienced were probably the doctor's fault. Sometimes, this documentation is known as a certificate of merit, and it is basically the opinion of a fellow physician, stating that the problems you experienced during medical treatment are the fault of the doctor.
Understand the time limits
Another thing to know is that each state has a statute of limitations on filing a medical malpractice claim. You may want to start on your claim as soon as possible, because if you wait too long, the law will not protect you.
Consider settling out-of-court
When dealing with a medical malpractice claim, you will probably interact with the physician's medical malpractice insurer. There may be an incentive for you to settle out-of-court to expedite the process and guarantee a winning outcome for you. In certain other cases, taking the issue to court will prove to be the better strategy. You will want to weigh the pros and cons and decide the best path for you.
These few basic steps will help you get your malpractice claim off on the right foot and hopefully set you up for success and put you on the fast track to healing from your injuries.