When to File a Medical Malpractice Claim
What is a Medical Malpractice Claim?
An injury or illness caused by medical malpractice is devastating. When a doctor, surgeon, or other trusted healthcare professional makes an error, it can lead to irreparable harm. It may also lead to high medical bills, lost wages, and other types of economic and emotional damage.
If you are injured as a result of medical malpractice, or if a loved one has been injured or killed, seeking compensation and finding justice is an important step of the healing process. Unfortunately, medical malpractice claims can be very complex, and many people find themselves overwhelmed. If you find yourself in this situation, hiring an experienced medical malpractice attorney is very advisable. They they will understand the nuances of the law and can help you through the unique challenges of your case.
Determining When to Hire a Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you hire an attorney, they will help you through every step of your case. But for starters, here are some basic things to know about filing a medical malpractice claim.
The first step is determining whether or not medical malpractice actually occurred. A negative encounter with a medical professional might immediately seem like medical malpractice. However, there are four conditions to consider when determining if an incident was actually medical malpractice:
- A doctor-patient relationship existed
- The doctor was negligent
- The doctor’s negligence caused the harm
- The harm led to specific damage
For example, a patient whose body rejects a liver transplant, despite their doctor’s best attempts, would likely be unable to file for medical malpractice, because their harm was not caused by a doctor’s negligence. On the other hand, if a patient goes into cardiac arrest after a doctor ignores their obvious signs of distress, it might be medical malpractice, because the doctor behaved negligently. If a doctor’s actions do not result in permanent harm—for example, if a patient is ill after a surgery, but slowly gets progressively better—it will also be hard to claim medical malpractice. If you still have questions, take a look at our medical malpractice frequently asked questions.
Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim
That said, many people do have valid medical malpractice claims. If you strongly believe that medical malpractice has occurred, the next step is to serve a notice of claim. This serves to inform potential defendants about the potential lawsuit. The notice should include information such as:
- A list of all health care providers that have treated you for your injuries that resulted from the malpractice
- A list of all prior health care providers
- Copies of medical records
The notice should be accompanied by an affidavit. This is a legal document from a medical professional. It states that you have a valid medical malpractice claim.
After sending out the notice of the claim, you have to wait 90 days before officially filing a lawsuit. During this time period, the potential defendant will reject the claim, make a settlement offer, or admit liability and make an offer to settle the issue. Depending on their response, the claim might be settled, or it could move on to a lawsuit.
Talk to a Medical Malpractice Attorney
These are just a few steps of filing a medical malpractice claim. Depending on the direction that your claim goes, there will be many other challenges to deal with. In medical malpractice claims, one of the biggest challenges is often Florida’s law of how long someone has to file a medical malpractice claim. In Florida, the statute of limitations states that the claim must be filed within two years of discovering the injury, or two years after you should have reasonably known about the injury. This means that if you suspect that medical malpractice has occurred, you need to act quickly to file your claim.
As you can see, medical malpractice claims can be a complicated ordeal. If you think you have a medical malpractice case, talk to a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. They can help you with filing your medical malpractice claim, and can guide you through the rest of this tricky process.
The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.