How to Sue a Doctor

September 19, 2022
How to Sue a Doctor

Making a Malpractice Case Against Your Doctor

People go to the doctor when ill or after suffering a serious injury trusting that the doctor's actions will improve their condition or injury, not make it worse. Doctors and other healthcare providers hold people's lives 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 serious medical mistake, you should seek legal consultation to discuss the possibility of suing your doctor and take the next step to file a medical malpractice claim. Proving medical malpractice is not always easy and often requires the expert testimony of another health care 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 caused the injury. Moreover, a Florida medical malpractice case involves much more than simply filing a lawsuit with the court. Rather, the injured patient – who ultimately has the burden of proof – has several procedural hurdles to overcome.

Consider Speaking to a Dolman Law Group Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you think that you or a loved one is the victim of medical malpractice by a doctor, there are several legal options 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 negotiation 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, as a 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 counsel can provide the assistance you need for a successful claim.

What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is when a health care provider does not provide a patient with a standard level of care accepted by their industry and results in the patient suffering further harm. Medical errors can happen at any stage in the process, in 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 issue nationwide that you should address as soon as it happens to you. The following are some of the medical errors a healthcare professional can make that can result in harm:

Statute of Limitations in Medical Malpractice Cases

The statute of limitations refers to the deadline by which an injured patient must file a claim or 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. The statute of limitations varies based on your jurisdiction, so be sure to look or your state's law on medical malpractice statute of limitations.

If you don't file a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit against your doctor within the prescribed time, absent some exceptional circumstances, you will not be able to 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 claim or lawsuit is filed in your case promptly.

Notice of Claim in a Medical Malpractice 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 the injured patient is eligible to file a lawsuit.

Notice requirements vary by jurisdiction, so you must consult a lawyer to determine the exact information you must include in a claim notice directed to the negligent health care 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.

Affidavit or Certificate of Qualified Expert Needed in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

In addition to notifying a health care provider that you 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, as 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.

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 the doctor was negligent and that they 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 doctors 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 – through qualified expert testimony – that the doctor committed an act of medical negligence, then the patient has satisfied the first step of proving a malpractice claim against the doctor. However, the injured patient must also show that the doctor's negligence resulted in certain injuries or damages.

What Damages Can You Receive for Medical Malpractice Compensation?

Additional injuries sustained 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 case 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 all 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 repercussions for causing significant harm. The point of punitive damages is to charge that at-fault party more to make them understand the magnitude of their actions and dissuade them from this behavior in the future.

Why Hire a Medical Malpractice Lawyer?

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 you may make at seeking 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 that 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 so that you can receive the full value of compensation that you are owed. Many will fail to realize that certain effects their injuries may have on their lives can be considered damages in a claim. 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. 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 for Help With Your Medical Malpractice Claim

No matter your jurisdiction, medical malpractice claims and lawsuits are primarily about accountability. People trust that doctors will care for them and improve their condition in a patient's time of need. When doctors fail in that responsibility, they must be held accountable for the negligent actions they took and for the actions they failed to take under the circumstances.

Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, a national medical malpractice law firm, may be able to provide you with the legal representation that you need in your case. Dolman Law Group believes 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 court plan to put you in the best position possible to receive fair compensation for your medical malpractice damages.

The medical malpractice lawyers at Dolman Law Group offer legal advice 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 (727) 451-6900 or contact us online. Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 3375 (727) 451-6900 https://www.dolmanlaw.com/legal-services/medical-malpractice-attorneys/

Matthew Dolman

Clearwater Personal Injury and Insurance Attorney

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess or $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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