How Do I Know if I Have a Medical Malpractice Case?
Medical malpractice is a complex area of law, and it can be difficult to determine whether you have a case.
This article speaks in general terms about what constitutes malpractice, and what steps you need to take to build your case. These elements may not directly apply to your situation. If you have any questions please get in touch for a free consultation.
Poor Results vs. Treatment Errors
One way to determine whether you have a case is by looking at the difference between a treatment not having the desired results, and an actual error, or negligent act. All treatments carry risks of adverse effects that, should they occur, do not constitute medical malpractice. Therefore, if you receive “the standard method of treatment for your illness,” but it does not have the desired outcome, that is not necessarily an error. However, should you be offered an outdated, or unnecessarily risky treatment that results in harm, that may be medical malpractice. Errors in judgement can also include receiving the wrong treatment, or no treatment at all. Click here for a comprehensive list of the types of medical malpractice.
First Step: Documentation
If, after exploring the difference between adverse effects and actual errors or negligence, you feel you may be the victim of medical malpractice, the American Bar Association recommends that you speak with a medical malpractice attorney. Your attorney will need to know as many details as possible about your case:
- Who the medical professionals were who treated you
- The details related to your illness or injury
- What medical treatment you received
- What instructions were you given
- How the outcome of your treatment has affected your life
Your documentation provides key information for your case. Sit down with your loved ones and answer as many of the above questions as possible in writing. Create a chronological list of events, complete with dates and who was involved. If the resulting harm or injury has a visual element, including scars, infection, or impaired movement, and take photos or video. The injuries you sustained may feel private, however, visual documentation can be an important piece of evidence in your case. Discuss any privacy concerns you have with your attorney prior to documenting your injuries.
Next Steps: Professional Support
While you may feel your documentation is compelling, it alone is rarely enough to build an effective case. To address the challenges and complexities in medical malpractice law, your attorney will compile additional evidence, and construct your case. This may include:
Your attorney will review your complete medical records, looking for evidence that demonstrates the incident of malpractice.
Your attorney may find areas you had not thought of or ask for clarification about elements you did include in your documentation. All of these pieces will help your attorney reconstruct as complete a picture as possible.
If deemed necessary, your attorney may bring one or more medical experts on board to provide testimony to support the view that you are the victim of medical malpractice.
Statute of Limitations:
Your attorney will ensure the incident of malpractice falls within the allowable time limit. In Louisiana, “medical malpractice case filing has a one-year limitation from the date of malpractice, or from the date when the malpractice was realized. Medical malpractice suits must be filed within three years after the date of the malpractice incident.”
Medical malpractice law is complex and emotionally fraught for patients and their families. The statute of limitations is short, which means it is important to act quickly. Document the situation as thoroughly as possible, and consult with an attorney. If the attorney believes there is a compelling case, the attorney will then build your case and take it first to the State of Louisiana Medical Review Panel, as required by law, and depending on the outcome, to court.
Being the victim of medical malpractice can be personal, emotional, and otherwise challenging. Employing a trusted attorney to help you through the process is imperative.
Schedule a Consultation Today
Nelson & Hammons is sensitive to the personal trauma involved in a medical malpractice case. We give personal attention to each case. It is important to us that you feel valued and supported by your legal team. If you believe you or a family member may be a victim of medial malpractice, please contact us by calling us at (318) 277-2401 or by scheduling a consultation online today.