Suing for Malpractice Against Your Doctor
You go to the doctor when you are ill or after suffering an injury, trusting that the doctor's actions will improve your condition, not worsen it. Doctors and other healthcare providers hold people's lives and well-being in their hands. Consequently, when providers make serious medical mistakes, they can and should be held responsible for their negligence.
If you have received an injury due to a doctor's medical mistake, you may be able to sue a doctor for malpractice. Proving a medical malpractice claim is not easy and often requires the expert testimony of another healthcare provider, who must testify that medical negligence occurred in your case.
It also takes significant expertise to understand whether a provider is at fault or if a medical device manufacturer might have caused the injury. Moreover, a Florida medical malpractice case involves much more than simply filing a lawsuit with the court. Instead, the injured patient – who ultimately has the burden of proof – has several procedural hurdles to overcome.
An Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney Can Explain the Reasons to Sue a Doctor
If you think that you or a loved one is the victim of medical malpractice by a doctor, several legal options are available. The experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, can review your circumstances with you and determine whether you may take legal action against your treating doctor. Our lawyers can use their expertise and experience in medical malpractice law to assist with the filing of your claim and negotiations with the at-fault party's insurance company.
You need someone to look out for you during the claims process and represent your best interests. The doctor will have a lawyer and insurance company with vast resources that can dwarf your own. Our personal injury law firm offers free consultations to determine if our legal team can provide the assistance you need for a successful claim.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is when a healthcare provider does not provide a patient with the standard level of care accepted by their industry, which results in the patient suffering further harm. Medical errors can happen at any stage in the process, including during the diagnosis, treatment, or aftercare of an injury or illness.
Medical malpractice can result in severe injuries that can leave a patient with future medical bills, extended periods of lost work, and pain and suffering. Medical malpractice is a serious and expensive nationwide issue that should be addressed as soon as it happens. The following are some of the medical errors healthcare professionals commit that can result in harm:
- Misdiagnose or failure to diagnose
- Prescribing incorrect medicine or dosage
- Performing unnecessary surgery
- Leaving foreign objects inside the patient's body
- Using defective medical devices for surgery
- Operating on the wrong part of the body
Statute of Limitations in Effect When Suing for Malpractice
The statute of limitations refers to the deadline by which an injured patient must file a lawsuit in a medical malpractice case. According to Florida Statute 95.11, the medical malpractice statute of limitations is two years from the date of the alleged malpractice. State statutes of limitation may vary based on your jurisdiction, so be sure to understand your state's medical malpractice statute of limitations.
If you don't file a medical malpractice lawsuit against your doctor within the prescribed time, absent some exceptional circumstances, you cannot seek monetary compensation for the injuries and damages you sustained. A medical malpractice lawyer should know the statute of limitations deadline in your jurisdiction and work to ensure that a lawsuit is filed in your case before the deadline.
How to Sue a Doctor: 3 Important Steps
1. Notice of Claim in a Medical Malpractice Doctor Lawsuit
You cannot just file a lawsuit with the court to take legal action against a medical doctor for malpractice. Rather, you must first send a notice to the doctor, indicating to them that you are planning to file a lawsuit for medical malpractice. After filing the notice, there may be a waiting period before an injured patient is eligible to file a lawsuit.
Notice requirements vary by jurisdiction, so consult a lawyer to determine the exact information you must include in a claim notice directed to the negligent healthcare provider. For a medical malpractice lawsuit to be valid in the eyes of the law, each defendant must receive a notice of intent to sue.
2. An Affidavit or Certificate of a Qualified Expert is Needed to Sue a Doctor
In addition to notifying a healthcare provider that they intend to file a lawsuit, the injured patient must usually submit an affidavit or certificate from a qualified expert before filing suit in most jurisdictions. This affidavit or certificate is usually completed by another doctor who can testify that there are reasonable grounds to determine that medical negligence or medical malpractice occurred in a given case. Again, the exact requirements of the certificate vary from state to state and across jurisdictions.
A qualified expert can help in your medical malpractice claim because they can speak to the standard of care in the industry and whether the at-fault doctor adhered to it. This medical expert will review your medical records and determine whether the original doctor deviated from accepted medical practices and caused harm.
3. Satisfying the Legal Standard for a Medical Malpractice Claim
After meeting the notice requirements and other prerequisites, depending upon the jurisdiction, an injured patient may be able to file a lawsuit against the doctor. To prove negligence and show that a doctor committed medical malpractice, the accident victim must first be able to show that the doctor breached the duty of care owed to the patient.
Breaching the Standard of Care is Medical Malpractice
All medical professionals owe their patients a duty of care. Under most circumstances, medical doctors are held to the standard of care of a "reasonable doctor" acting under the same or similar circumstances and operating in the same geographical area as the treating physician.
On the other hand, some doctors, such as obstetricians, gynecologists, cardiologists, and orthopedists, practice in specialized areas of medicine. These specialists are usually held to a national standard of care in a medical malpractice case.
If the injured patient can prove medical negligence through qualified expert witness testimony, the patient may be able to file a malpractice claim against the doctor. However, the injured patient must also show that the doctor's negligence resulted in specific injuries or damages.
What Damages Can You Receive When You Sue a Doctor for Medical Malpractice?
Unlike typical accident cases where someone's injuries arise during the crash or fall, in medical malpractice situations, additional injuries may result from medical complications or the need for follow-up medical procedures, such as future corrective surgeries. Potentially available damages in a medical malpractice suit against a doctor include:
- Payment of all related medical and physical therapy bills
- Compensation for all related wage losses
- Pain, suffering, and inconvenience associated with the malpractice
- Lost earning capacity resulting from an inability to work
- Inconvenience and loss of quality of life due to the malpractice
- Related mental anguish and emotional distress
- Loss of spousal companionship or support due to the negligent act
Medical malpractice damages can fall into two categories: economic and non-economic. Economic damages are the damages that have a monetary value attached to them, such as medical bills, lost wages, and disability costs. Non-economic damages encompass your pain and suffering after medical malpractice and can include loss of enjoyment or life and loss of consortium.
In rare cases, the at-fault party may have to pay punitive damages. These are damages charged to the at-fault party, serving as punishment for causing significant harm. The point of punitive damages is to penalize that at-fault party to make them understand the magnitude of their actions and dissuade them from similar behavior in the future.
Why Hire a Medical Malpractice Lawyer to Sue a Doctor?
The prospect of saving money by attempting to handle a medical malpractice claim on your own may seem tempting, but it almost always ends poorly. Without the specialized knowledge and experience that a medical malpractice lawyer can provide, you run a very high risk of making mistakes that can cripple any attempt to seek compensation for medical malpractice injuries.
The parties you will be dealing with in a medical malpractice claim, such as the defendant's insurance company, will immediately take advantage of your lack of knowledge. Hiring a lawyer specializing in medical malpractice cases can ensure your right to compensation is protected and you are not taken advantage of.
An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can take the necessary legal actions to maximize the value of your case and increase your likelihood of recovering monetary damages. A medical malpractice attorney will know what to look for in your case and what damages you can claim to receive the compensation you deserve. Most injury victims will not have the skills necessary to negotiate a favorable settlement with an insurance company that will undoubtedly have a seasoned team of lawyers trying to deny the claim.
A medical malpractice attorney can assist you with this negotiation and ensure your compensation potential isn't affected by your lack of experience.
Contact Dolman Law Group When You are Considering Suing for Malpractice
No matter your jurisdiction, medical malpractice claims and lawsuits are primarily about accountability. Patients trust that doctors will care for them and improve their condition in their time of need. When doctors fail in that responsibility, they can be held accountable for their negligent actions or the actions they failed to take under the circumstances.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, is a national medical malpractice law firm. Our dedicated team may be able to provide you with the legal representation that you need in your case. At Dolman Law Group, we believe in "quality over quantity," meaning we will dedicate our resources, time, and energy to a limited number of cases to ensure our clients receive the best possible legal advice. Our medical malpractice lawyers will develop an in-depth legal strategy to put you in the best position possible to receive fair compensation when you need to sue a doctor for your medical malpractice damages.
The personal injury lawyers at Dolman Law Group provide legal services on a contingency basis, meaning we don't get paid until you do. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a medical malpractice lawyer, please call us at (866) 904-0315 or contact us online.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road, Clearwater, FL 3375
Dolman Law Group works with local counsel in any jurisdiction outside Florida for the purpose of filing lawsuits in jurisdictions where we are not licensed. Thus, we will follow each State’s ethical rules to ensure a local attorney is involved.