Understanding Medical Malpractice and What You Can Legally Do About It
You might have heard the term “medical malpractice” before, but you’re not sure what it means. Medical malpractice is the legal term that a lawyer will use to indicate that someone in the medical profession deviated from the standard a patient should expect. That deviation injured the patient.
If you’re a patient, you should know that it might be a doctor who is guilty of medical malpractice in your case, but you might also blame a nurse, physical therapist, or an entire hospital. You might hold multiple entities liable from a legal standpoint if something happens to you while a doctor or medical facility is caring for you.
Let’s learn a little bit more about medical malpractice. The law protects you from this possibility, and you should know your options if it ever happens to you.
Where Does Medical Malpractice Occur?
The first thing you should realize is that medical malpractice can occur anywhere. For instance, a recent report card gave New York hospitals 2.18 out of 5 stars. High infection rates were part of why these facilities received that poor rating, but inaccurate diagnoses and high mortality rates played a role as well.
New York isn’t the only place you can receive improper or deficient medical care, though. You might have a medical malpractice case in a hospital, clinic, private practice, or physical therapy facility anywhere around the country.
You might even have a medical malpractice case, in some instances, if a nurse is caring for you in your home. Even there, someone in the health field must meet the industry’s standard of care.
What is the Standard of Care?
That term, “standard of care,” matters a lot from a legal standpoint. Let’s say you injure yourself while in the hospital, at a doctor’s office, etc., and you decide to hire a lawyer to pursue the matter in court.
Part of whether you receive compensation will depend on whether your lawyer can prove that the medical facility or individual who cared for you did not provide the care standard.
There is not a textbook definition of the care standard. However, if you can hire an expert witness who states that the medical professional who took care of you did not administer care as the industry dictated they should, you have a good shot at winning your case.
What Will the Medical Professional Who Took Care of You Do to Combat This?
You should also realize that a doctor, nurse, or anyone else you are suing will probably not accept that they injured you or made you sick. Their reputation is on the line, so it’s more than likely they will fight tooth and nail in court to prevent a guilty verdict.
They will hire their own lawyer, and they might try to establish that they did, in fact, give you adequate care as the medical industry states they should have. The real question is whether the jury will agree with the defense or the plaintiff. You’re the plaintiff in this scenario.
What Can You Do to Make Sure You Win?
If you want to win your medical malpractice case, hiring a lawyer who knows what they’re doing must be at the top of your list. If you hire someone who just passed the bar and doesn’t have any real-life courtroom experience, they might flub some critical part of the trial, even if you have ample evidence that suggests the medical professional hurt you as you said.
When you hire a lawyer, talk to them about what prior cases they’ve had that are like yours. If they have done lots of medical malpractice lawsuits in the past, and they can report favorable outcomes from those cases, that is the person or firm you want to hire.
You might go with a larger firm that has more resources. They can thoroughly investigate your claim and make sure there is ample evidence they can use in court to prove medical malpractice occurred.
You can also line up several expert witnesses who can argue convincingly that the individual or entity you’re suing did not meet the care standard. If you can do all of this, you can likely get a sizeable cash settlement or judgment in your favor.
Remember, though, you’ll have to give your lawyer some of that money. You can probably hire a personal injury lawyer on a contingency basis, meaning you pay them only if they win the case.