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How a Trial Lawyer Can Help With Your Medical Malpractice Case

by Theresa Hoffman

Medical malpractice can be a complex subject, and many patients fail to recognize the signs that a health care professional may not have acted in their best interests. Most medical malpractice suits aren't the result of intentional abuse on the part of the health care provider -- more often than not, it's caused by general incompetence or complacency. However, that doesn't make it any less of a problem for medical malpractice victims. If you think you've been the victim of medical malpractice, a good trial lawyer may be able to help you get justice for your suffering. Here's what you need to know. 

The Legal Definition 

The legal definition of medical malpractice involves a reasonable standard of care and dates back to the Code of Hammurabi of ancient Rome, which states that a doctor shall have his hands cut off if he failed to provide a reasonable standard of care. Modern punishments involve monetary damages and in some cases result in revocation of the license of the health care professional. Very severe cases may involve jail terms. 

Medical Malpractice Laws Are State-Specific

Unlike in many other countries, medical malpractice is regulated by individual state laws. These laws may vary substantially in different states, so it's in the best interests of the patient to consult with an attorney who is licensed to practice law in the state in which the alleged malpractice took place. Statutes of limitations, for instance, set restrictions on time periods in which medical malpractice lawsuits may be filed, and these are different in every state. 

You Must Be Able to Prove Injury

You must be able to prove that the health care professional caused injury through negligence or actual intent. A wrongful diagnosis alone isn't enough to win a medical malpractice suit -- you have to be able to prove that you were harmed by not receiving the proper treatment. For instance, if a wrongful diagnosis renders you incapable of doing your job, you may be able to sue for monetary damages that cover the cost of your former income as well as any remedial treatments you'll require as a result.

You Can Lessen Your Chances of Becoming a Victim of Medical Malpractice

Being proactive concerning your own health care can greatly lessen the chances that you'll have to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against your health care practitioner. Here's how:

  • Make a list of questions and concerns before your appointment to ensure optimal communication with your health care professional.
  • Research your symptoms. This will help you communicate with your health care professional better regarding prescribed medications and other forms of treatment. 
  • Keep a journal containing anything relevant to your condition and your treatment. This may help identify patterns of negligence on the part of your health care provider. 
  • Don't be afraid to ask for a second opinion, especially if something seems off even though you can't quite put your finger on it. Intuition often tells us things we need to know. 
  • Don't be intimidated. Patients often fail to speak up because they're intimidated by the medical care system and many have been conditioned to consider doctors as all-powerful professional who should not be questioned. 

Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Are Often Settled Out of Court

Patients are sometimes reluctant to pursue legitimate medical malpractice claims because they don't relish the thought of a grueling court battle. However, many medical malpractice cases never see the inside of a courtroom. A good lawyer be able to negotiate with the provider's malpractice insurance company to gain a favorable settlement on your behalf -- and a trial lawyer with a good reputation provides incentive to settle out of court. 

Don't hesitate to reach out to a law firm in your area for further guidance on legal issues.