If you or a loved one has been a victim of medical negligence, it can be among the most difficult, stressful, disappointing, frustrating, enraging … experiences that you can go through. There are many reasons for this.
First, and foremost, we all want to trust our doctors. In fact, we have to place our trust in them every time we or a loved one visits a doctor. It’s not just us. Society as a whole places enormous confidence and trust in doctors and the medical profession as a whole. For pretty much as long as they have been polling, doctors and nurses have been among the top 2 or 3 most respected professions, often holding the top spot.
Nobody wants to admit that doctors and nurses make mistakes. This is true of patients who could not otherwise confidently go to a doctor for help. This is true of juries who hold the same biases as everyone else regarding doctors. It is also true of doctors and medical professionals themselves. And this perhaps creates the biggest stress on the injured patient and the medical profession.
Trust Betrayed: Epidemic of Preventable Medical Errors
It is quite remarkable that there is such a high level of denial of medical malpractice in light of the fact that the Institute of Medicine (not exactly a tool of the trial lawyers) estimated that as of 1999 that as many as 98,000 Americans die each year as a result of medical error. The numbers have actually gotten worse, not better, since that time with estimates now as high as 440,000 deaths for year and exponentially higher numbers of patients seriously harmed by preventable medical error.
So why does any of this matter to you or your loved one who has been harmed by medical malpractice? Because, there are many protections in place to protect doctors and the medical industry against lawsuits. Because of this, you may or should have many questions about how to proceed if you believe you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice.
Question #1: Did Medical Malpractice Occur?
The first question is whether or not medical malpractice occurred and whether you can get fair and full compensation for your injuries. you have a claim. This is in fact a very difficult question to address. To be clear, it is very hard and expensive to file a medical malpractice claim. And a bad outcome does not necessarily mean malpractice. To determine whether there has been malpractice, it is necessary to enlist the services of doctor or other medical professional with expertise in the particular area of medicine to even make a determination of whether the basic requirements for a medical malpractice claim have been met.
Medical experts are very expensive and few very few cases will justify this expense. Even when it is sent out to an expert, in most cases, there will be a finding that there was not malpractice. The last thing that we want to do (like most every other lawyers despite the suggestion to the contrary) is to file a baseless lawsuit. Though some suggest otherwise, lawyers have neither the inclination nor the money to enter into frivolous litigation. This is true in all areas of personal injury law for most attorneys. It is particularly true in medical malpractice where a law firm could find itself in the throes of financial ruin after only a few bad decisions due to the enormous expense associated with these cases.
Evaluation of Medical Malpractice Claims Rigorous & Costly
In short, lawyers screen these cases very rigorously with few getting past the evaluation process for medical malpractice claims. Before and during this process, you will likely have many other questions including questions regarding deadlines, costs, needed treatment, notice of claims to your doctor and so on. Each of these questions, like the first, can be both confusing and complex.
We will try to address the most common questions on the pages to come. However, keep in mind that these are only general discussions. They are not meant to be relied upon as legal advice. In any personal injury law matter, it is generally unwise to proceed without the assistance of an attorney. This is particularly so in medical malpractice claims due to their complexity and their many deadlines and other traps.
Having said that, if you think you have been seriously harmed and you believe it is the result of medical malpractice, it is extremely important that you contact an attorney right away for an individual review of your case. Collins & Collins, P.C. can be reached at (505) 242-5958