The Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Pursuing a Medical Malpractice ClaimApril 20, 2023
Many Americans lose their lives every year due to medical malpractice. Medical negligence can lead to physical pain, mental anguish, or both. Additionally, the medical bills can be overwhelming, and many injured patients are unable to return to work in the same capacity, if at all. Patients have the burden of proof in these claims.
Patients have the right to sue practitioners or institutions responsible for malpractice, yet many hesitate to take action. While some may not be aware that malpractice was the cause of their injuries, others hesitate for other reasons:
- The process seems intimidating: It is common for patients to be intimidated by figures like physicians and institutions like hospitals. If you have been injured because of medical negligence, it is important to have a lawyer fight to protect your rights.
- The expense: This is another cause for hesitation, but many malpractice attorneys only charge fees for cases they win, and initial consultations are usually free. Clients may not have to invest money upfront in these instances.
Although the thought of initiating a medical malpractice case might seem frightening, doing so can decrease the chances of the same mistakes happening again. Millions of unreported medical mistakes happen each year, yet only a small percentage end up being litigated.
Listed below are five common mistakes to avoid when pursuing a medical malpractice claim.
Ignoring the Doctor’s Orders
Patients who do not follow their doctor’s orders cannot expect to fully recover from their injuries. If there was medical negligence, the patient can make their own situation worse by not complying with the instructions. There might be a reason to question the instructions, but when that is done, there must be documentation. If an insurance company notices a gap in treatment, this can be used against you.
Failing to Document Everything
Taking detailed notes and saving medical documents are crucial for malpractice cases, as both can serve as evidence. Besides that, keep track of all medication, request copies of medical imaging tests, and write down the time it took to get to medical appointments. If you have missed time from work because of the injury, record that as well. Many medical malpractice claims use eyewitness testimony as evidence, so keep in touch with medical staff who may have seen what happened or how it affected you.
Mistakes With the Insurance Company
Health care insurance companies are often difficult to deal, and when an injured patient reaches out, it can be challenging to get compensation. If there is proof of negligence, the insurer might offer an initial settlement. They often do this in order to prevent lengthy, expensive court cases, but a first offer could be low.
It is not easy to decline an initial insurance settlement offer, especially when there are costly medical bills. Doing this might be the right choice for some people, but agreeing without considering the number is ill-advised. The injury could be more extensive than you think. It is safer to speak with a medical malpractice lawyer before accepting an offer.
Not Suing the Right Parties
This is a common mistake because patients usually see many medical providers throughout the course of their treatment. It might be hard to determine who was responsible for the negligence, even when there are detailed medical charts and record-keeping. A chart might show that one physician was at fault, but further testimony could show that a physician assistant was actually responsible. This kind of issue should be anticipated in advance, especially since there is a statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice claim.
Talking to the Wrong People
People like to talk about their medical issues, but doing this can affect the case. As an injured patient, you should not tell your practitioners or anyone else associated with your treatment that you are pursuing a legal claim.
It is best to avoid talking about it with friends and extended family members. Posting on social media is also unwise because once that happens, practically anyone can see it. If anyone involved sees a photo or video of you at a party during the time you claimed to be suffering from pain, the case could be negatively impacted.
Who Is Responsible for Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice cases tend to involve complex technical issues, so the details must be clearly explained to prevent confusion. Medical malpractice lawyers often work with expert witnesses who know how to do this while remaining objective.
Some medical malpractice cases involve more than one negligent party, but a hospital, urgent care center, or another facility could also be implicated. These systems are responsible for training their employees and instituting the appropriate procedures for the best care practices. Not having enough staff members on hand to handle a difficult birth or supervisory oversights can be considered malpractice in some cases. In other instances, there are defective medical devices and equipment that cause serious medical injuries.
Proving causation is often difficult. For example, when a legal team proves that a physician administered the wrong medication to a patient, it must also be shown exactly how this action directly caused the patient’s injury.
What Is a Certificate of Qualified Expert?
In Maryland, claimants must file for a Certificate of Qualified Expert within 90 days after filing a malpractice case. This means that a qualified medical expert has to swear under oath that they have reviewed the case. The Certificate must attest that:
- The health care provider(s) did not reach the accepted medical standard of care for your diagnosis or treatment.
- The health care provider(s) failed to achieve that standard, which caused the injuries.
Some judges may waive the certificate requirement, but claims are typically dismissed without these documents.
When a medical malpractice claim in Maryland specifies damages exceeding $30,000, the plaintiff must file their claim and Certificate through Maryland’s Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office instead of in court. These larger claims usually go into arbitration unless a waiver application is filed.
Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Offer Free Medical Malpractice Consultations
If you suspect that your injuries were caused by a medical professional or facility’s negligence, contact our Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We can explain your options and fight to protect your rights. Complete our online form or call us at 800-547-4LAW (4529) to schedule a free consultation.
We have offices in Baltimore, Glen Burnie, Lanham, and Owings Mills, 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.