What Do I Need to Know About Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim?December 28, 2022
Whether you are seeing a doctor for a routine check-up, a scheduled surgical procedure, or you require immediate medical attention for a serious health emergency like a heart attack or a stroke, you place your trust in the hands of the medical professional responsible for your care. While most health care professionals consistently provide excellent medical care to their patients, there are situations where a health care provider may make a careless mistake that can cause the patient to suffer serious health complications. Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals are human and capable of making mistakes. However, if you suffered a serious injury or health complication, and you believe that your health care provider was negligent in some way, you are urged to contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. that can help with the filing of a medical malpractice claim.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a physician, nurse, or other health care provider fails to provide the established standard of care that another similarly qualified medical professional would provide in a similar situation. Oftentimes, this causes the patient to sustain injuries or harm that they would not otherwise have had to endure if the medical mistake did not occur. Depending on the nature of the medical error, the patient may suffer chronic, ongoing pain and suffering. In extreme cases, the negligent behavior of the health care provider can have fatal consequences.
What Are the Most Common Types of Medical Malpractice?
Unfortunately, there are a number of ways that a health care provider’s negligence can cause patients to suffer serious health complications. The following are examples of the most common types of medical malpractice:
- Misdiagnosis: This occurs when a health care provider fails to properly identify a patient’s injury or health conditions. Misdiagnosis is one of the most common types of medical malpractice. Conditions that have been commonly misdiagnosed include cancer, heart problems, organ damage, and AIDS/HIV.
- Delayed diagnosis: This is another common mistake that occurs when a doctor does not order the diagnostic tests necessary to diagnose an injury or illness in a timely manner. Oftentimes, a delayed diagnosis results in the condition becoming more serious and more difficult to treat.
- Failure to treat: If a health care provider fails to take the necessary steps to provide the appropriate treatment for an injury or illness, this is an example of medical malpractice.
- Surgical errors: Every surgery comes with a certain degree of risk. However, if the surgeon, anesthesiologist, or any other health care professional who is part of the surgical team fails to provide the standard of care, you may have a valid medical malpractice claim. Examples of surgical errors that are considered negligent include performing surgery on the wrong body part, performing the wrong type of surgery, and leaving a surgical instrument or sponge inside the body cavity.
- Medication errors: Medication errors occur when a health care provider administers an incorrect medication, a medication you are allergic to, or the wrong dose of a medication.
- Failure to warn patients about known risks: Before proceeding with any type of treatment or medical procedure, doctors must warn patients about any known risks or side effects associated with the recommended treatment. If the doctor fails to do so, they may be held liable for medical malpractice.
What Are the Requirements for Pursuing a Medical Malpractice Claim?
If you were injured or suffered a serious health complication while under the care of a medical professional, it is important to understand that the following factors must be present if you plan to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit:
- A doctor-patient relationship exists: It must be proven that you had a relationship with the physician that you are taking legal action against. This is generally easy to prove by obtaining copies of medical records.
- The doctor was negligent: You cannot file a medical malpractice lawsuit against a doctor simply because you were unhappy with the care that you received. It must be proven that the doctor was negligent, and that they violated the standard of care.
- The doctor’s negligence caused your injury: Establishing negligence is not enough to pursue a medical malpractice claim. It must be shown that the health care provider’s negligence caused your injuries.
- The injury resulted in damages: These are the financial losses you experienced as a result of the medical malpractice. If it cannot be proven that you suffered losses, you will not be able to file a medical malpractice claim.
What Actions Should I Take and Avoid When Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim?
The first and most important step you can take if you are planning to pursue a medical malpractice claim is to contact a lawyer who can evaluate your case and recommend the best legal course of action going forward. The following are additional steps that you should take and others that you should avoid in order to have a successful outcome:
- Collect copies of all medical records related to the injury or illness, including any follow-up treatment you received. This will help establish the doctor-patient relationship.
- Maintain a comprehensive list of all health care providers who were responsible for our care, including nurses, physicians, surgeons, and anesthesiologists. If you are unable to get copies of medical records from a health care provider, your medical malpractice lawyer will be able to obtain them.
- Collect copies of five years’ worth of income tax records, W-2 forms, and pay stubs. This will provide proof of lost wages and a loss of earning capacity if the illness or injury prevents you from returning to work for an extended period of time or permanently.
- Collect photos and videos from before and after the incident. This will provide evidence on how the illness or injury has negatively impacted your life.
- Obtain a copy of the death certificate, autopsy, and the deceased’s will if the malpractice resulted in a fatality. The surviving family members may be eligible for death benefits by filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Benefits include compensation for funeral expenses, the value of the deceased’s lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, and loss of companionship.
- File your claim as soon as possible. In Maryland, the statute of limitation for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is within five years of the date that the injury occurred or within three years of the date that you discovered the injury, whichever comes first. If your claim is filed after the deadline, your claim will be denied and you will be unable to recover damages.
While it is important to understand the steps you should take when filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, it is just as important to be aware of the common mistakes people make:
- Do not post details about your case on social media. Even a seemingly innocent comment or picture can be used against you and result in your claim being denied.
- Do not try to argue with insurance providers about your case and what went wrong. Even if you feel that you have a valid argument, any communication with providers can end up hurting your case in the long run.
- Do not discard any of your medical records. These provide essential evidence for your claim. If you wish to make notes or highlight information contained in your records, do not write on them with permanent markers or pens. Use sticky notes to clarify information or bring attention to certain details in your medical records that are important to your case.
- Do not miss any of your scheduled doctor’s appointments. Skipping doctor’s appointments sends the message that your injury or illness must not be that serious.
Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Clients Harmed by Medical Negligence
If you or a loved one suffered an injury or a health complication while under the care of a health care provider, and you believe that negligence was involved, do not hesitate to contact our Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online. We have offices in Baltimore, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, allowing us to represent clients in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.