A Johns Hopkins University study reports that medical negligence is the nation’s third leading cause of death. In 2012 alone, payouts from medical malpractice lawsuits totaled more than $3 billion. The fear and frustration resulting from these statistics are understandable.
However, there are things you can do to protect the interests of you and your family if you’re ever harmed by the negligence of medical personnel. The following five facts about medical malpractice can be useful if you find yourself facing a medical error.
Time Limits Exist
Each state in the United States has established a statute of limitations regarding allowable time to file medical malpractice lawsuits. The time limit varies from one state to another, so it is important to learn the laws in your state.
Medical Malpractice Discovery May Be Delayed
The effects of medical malpractice may not be immediately obvious. The symptoms of the malpractice may take some time to discover. One example of this is when a physician misdiagnosis the illness of a patient. The patient, in most cases, will not know what the true diagnosis is. This will cause a bit of time to pass before understanding an error was made.
Dissatisfaction Does Not Equal Medical Malpractice
Legal action against medical malpractice is not necessarily justified each time a patient is not satisfied with a procedure. As The Law Offices of Casey D. Shomo explains, “Identifying medical malpractice isn’t always straightforward. Even if a doctor or nurse does everything possible and everything correctly, there’s still the potential that your health could decline. In order for malpractice to have occurred, the healthcare provider needs to have been negligent in some way.”
The standard for legal liability is that the medical profession must have committed an action below the acceptable level of performance. Also, the patient must be clearly harmed by the negligence of the medical professional.
Money is not needed to secure the services of an attorney in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Lawyers in these cases provide service on a contingency basis. This means payment is only due to them at the completion of a successful case.
The Process Is Complicated
A number of factors cause medical malpractice lawsuits to be a complicated process for the layman. Individuals injured by a doctor should hire a lawyer and not attempt to handle matters on their own. It is also important to remember that insurance companies will offer a quick settlement at times when it is not advantageous to the patient. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 93 percent of cases are resolved before trial. Even so, it’s important to speak with your attorney before attempting to settle with an insurance company.
Keep in Mind
Medical malpractice is a serious issue that affects many Americans each year. To protect you and your family if ever harmed by the negligence of medical personnel, it can also be useful to have as many specific and substantiated details on hand about your situation when retaining counsel.
Author Harper Harmon is a freelance writer and blogger who focuses on business, health and other various topics. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication from UCLA and currently resides in Santa Cruz with her dog, Sassy.