Don’t be Victimized Twice: Medical Malpractice and the Things You Should Know

It is not an overstatement to say that medical malpractice is becoming an epidemic in the United States. In an article published by the BMJ, formerly known as the British Medical Journal, it was estimated that medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the United States, claiming 251,000 lives a year. Unfortunately, this number does not include the number of medical mistakes that result in serious injuries. According to experts, that number could be 40 times more than the death rate resulting from medical errors.
Based on these sobering statistics, we likely have family or friends that have suffered as a result of medical malpractice. Now that we are all aware of the prevalence of this issue in the United States, we should be more proactive in identifying and pursuing claims of medical malpractice so that we can protect subsequent patients and, in our own way, make the system better. Here are some things you should know if you or a loved one are contemplating bringing a medical malpractice claim:

Do Not Sign Any Releases
If you believe that your medical professional might have made a mistake, then you must make sure that you do not sign any documents that might release the hospital from liability. Hospitals and medical professionals are very savvy, and they will do whatever is necessary to protect their bottom line, including convincing their patients to release them from liability if an act of medical malpractice has occurred. Oftentimes, the hospital will lure victims of medical malpractice into signing these releases by offering free medical care to the victim for an extended period of time. Do not be fooled into believing that this will even remotely compensate you or your loved one for their injuries. Indeed, oftentimes, you or your loved one will not even fully appreciate the extent of your injuries when the hospital or medical professional presents this type of offer. Be smart and do not sign anything.

Assist Counsel in Obtaining Medical Records
To successfully prove a claim for medical malpractice, your lawyer must establish that the hospital or medical professional breached a standard of care that directly resulted in a measurable injury to you. In order to successfully prove these elements, your lawyer will need copies of all of your medical records. Your attorney will procure these medical records, but you must come armed with a comprehensive list of all medical professionals that you have seen, regardless of how infrequent or inconsequential your visit with any of the medical professionals might have seemed at the time. Indeed, your medical malpractice lawyer will want to put together a comprehensive timeline of your medical history leading up to the injury so that she can clearly demonstrate to the fact finder that the injuries you complain of are the direct result of medical malpractice.

Expert Witness Testimony is Critical
Medical malpractice cases require the use of expert witnesses to establish, among other things, the breach of the standard of care by the medical professional and damages. Expert witnesses are absolutely critical because they will articulate to the fact finder the key elements needed to establish your case. Your medical malpractice lawyer should have a relationship with a range of expert witnesses whom are experts in their field and ready to testify about the medical issues unique to your case.

Determine Long-Term Care Needs
In thinking about successfully bringing a medical malpractice claim, you also want to have a sense of the long-term care needs that you believe are necessary as a result of your injury. Of course, your expert witness will testify on this issue, but you will want to have done some initial legwork to get a sense of what you or your loved one may need and the costs associated with those long-term care services. The costs associated with those long-term care needs are a critical component to the valuation of your case. As always, legal counsel and your expert witnesses will help guide you through this process.

Medical malpractice occurs all too often in the United States and seriously impacts the lives of not only the patient but also their friends and family in the form of lost income or extended caretaking. If you or a loved believes they have been a victim of medical malpractice, contact legal counsel immediately and do not delay, as the statute of limitations can be a bar to you recovering for your injuries.

Disclaimer: This article is made available for educational purposes only and to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. The article’s content should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state. This article does not create an attorney-client relationship with the Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, L.L.C.

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Written by Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, L.L.C.

Attorney Jamaal (“Jay”) W. Stafford has extensive experience counseling and representing clients facing complex and challenging legal issues. He puts his experience to work with each client to help them get their desired results, no matter what legal situation they are facing. Each service that is offered is backed by his experience, education, professional training, and passion for employment law and litigation.