5 Steps to Evaluate a Medical Malpractice Claim

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Last Updated: Feb 21, 2019

Malpractice cases emerge when medical professionals fail to handle delicate situations. The task of claiming a case for malpractice requires a delicate touch too. Hospitals will be unflinching in their defense, and so should yours. Making the first, and correct, moves will determine the outcome.

Finding the right attorney is just one half of step one. What follows from there will be a long process of evaluation to determine whether or not your medical malpractice case is valid. Keep in mind that initial meetings with your reputable attorney are only to verify that the case can proceed. Proving it in a court of law is going to be a different struggle altogether. Listed below are five steps of a medical malpractice evaluation.

Statute of Limitations

All malpractice claims must be filed and settled in a timely manner. The statute of limitations for medical malpractice is limited to two years from the date of the incident.

Potential defendants must be served with a “Notice of Intent to File a Claim” 182 days before you are permitted to file a claim. Failure to file a claim within the statute of limitations will bar your case from going to trial. Beginning this process immediately after the incident is ideal.

Record Gathering

One of the reasons for immediate action in the claim filing stage is due to the retrieval of medical documents. While hospital records are released 30 days after patient discharge, certain documents can be requested. Hospitals and medical offices will implement policies to route requests through their risk management department for review.

Emotional testimonies can only get a case so far unless it has the documentation to prove it. X-rays, MRIs, fetal heart monitor strips, and other records provide a clear timeline of the incident. Their veracity will then be tested by expert analysis.

Expert Analysis

The incisive expertise of a medical professional can determine a successful case. Medical malpractice attorneys may consult two or more experts to understand the errors in the individual’s treatment.

An expert can be either a nurse or physician who is not connected to the defendants or the hospital they work for. Experts won’t testify in court but can help draft questions for the depositions. Their services are charged on an hourly basis at the end of the trial.

Value Assessment

Early value estimations can be more or less than expected. An attorney will avoid giving a whole number estimate upfront because the total value is still too vague.

The analysis phase serves to gather all the figures related to the damages incurred. Liens, punitive damages, and lost wages are likely to be calculated into a reasonable settlement. Any figure that doesn’t offer fair compensation to a victim signals an insufficient case.

Take Action or Not

The settlement end of a malpractice lawsuit isn’t the only obstacle. Evidence must verify that a breach of trust was committed by a caregiver.

If your lawyer deems the case worthy of their effort, then prepare for the next steps.

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