The complexity of Medical Malpractice Claims
As a patient, you have the right to expect that your physicians treat you with expertise, competency, and out of your best interests. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Medical errors happen, and more frequently than some would like to admit.
When you are the victim of malpractice, you might wonder what options you have available to you. One is that of a malpractice claim. Filing a medical malpractice claim is not as easy as it sounds. In fact, these types of cases are extremely complex. Therefore, it is best if you familiarize yourself with how they work, the issues that you will face, and what you can do to improve the chances of a successful case.
Dispelling the Myths of Medical Malpractice
Before going into detail about the complexities, first, there is one important myth that must be dispelled. Any unfavorable outcome of a medical procedure or treatment does not automatically constitute malpractice. For example, if you were unhappy with the way your plastic surgery turned out, you still might not have a reason to file for compensation. To have a claim, you must meet the requirements for a viable case. Medical malpractice is often defined differently from state to state, which only makes matters more difficult. If you intend to file a malpractice case in Illinois, it is best that you consult with a medical malpractice attorney in the area.
The Issue of Medical Errors
You go to hospitals and physicians because you trust them. You know that they have completed years of school and countless hours of training; therefore, they should be more than qualified to diagnose and treat. Sadly, hospitals and other health care providers do not always adhere to the high standards required of them. In fact, there are instances where they blatantly ignore those standards. When this happens, a patient could suffer an extreme injury – if not fatal results.
Unique Challenges in a Medical Malpractice Case
There are unique challenges that can occur in a malpractice case. Even when you have evidence that proves the above-mentioned issues, it still can be difficult to prove and win the case itself.
First, your attorney must hire experts – often more than one. These experts cost your case money, and you must find experts who can not only corroborate the evidence but who can testify that your physician’s actions deviated from what should have been done.
Furthermore, these cases might take longer than one expects. This is because it takes time to sort through medical records, locate witnesses, interview experts, and so forth. Negotiations will go back and forth during this timeframe, but they are not always successful. A malpractice case might take as little as one year or as long as five to six years.
Do not let time discourage you, however. There are ways to pay for your costs while waiting for your settlement. Your attorney will also ensure the other side is not unreasonably delaying your case so that you are desperate to take any settlement offered.
Another complexity is the multitude of parties that might be involved in your case. For example, a doctor can make an error that might also include their employer (i.e., the hospital). Your attorney can examine the facts of your case and decide how many parties might be liable.
The Affidavit of Merit
Before you can file your medical malpractice claim, the courts require that you obtain an Affidavit of Merit. This is a professional review by a doctor that certifies that negligence occurred. This might be difficult depending on the type of malpractice claim you have. The doctor who certifies your claim must be in the same specialty as the one you are making a claim against. If the physician you are making a claim against comes from a rare specialty, finding a physician to certify becomes difficult, but not impossible.