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When someone is injured or dies in a medical setting--either because of a medical professional's actions or because of their inaction--a patient or his or her family will often consider a medical malpractice lawsuit. A medical malpractice attorney can review the specific facts in your situation and help determine if you have a viable medical malpractice lawsuit.
Doctors, nurses, dentists, technicians, hospitals, and hospital workers can all commit medical malpractice, according to the American Bar Association.
Do You Have a Medical Malpractice Case?
Medical malpractice is a form of personal injury law, and you'll want to be represented by either medical malpractice lawyers or personal injury attorneys who have experience handling medical malpractice claims.
At a basic level, you must prove two things to be successful in a medical malpractice case:
- The doctor or medical professional treating you made a mistake
- You were harmed as a result of that mistake
In determining whether the medical professional made a mistake, the court will look at the medical standard of care. In other words, what is the generally accepted method of treating patients in your area with similar medical problems? For example, the standard of care for a 90-year-old dementia patient in California would not necessarily be the same standard of care as for a 45-year-old dementia patient in Florida.
Not only must you show that the doctor's act or omission was a mistake, but you must also prove that this mistake injured you. In other words, you probably do not have a valid medical malpractice claim if your doctor treated you according to the medical standard of care in your area. And you probably would not have a valid medical malpractice claim if you were not harmed by the doctor's treatment, even if it did violate the standard of care.
How Long Do You Have to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
Every state has a statute of limitations, or time period in which you can file a civil lawsuit against another party, such as a doctor or nurse. Your medical malpractice attorney can tell you the statute of limitations in your state.
If you and your medical malpractice lawyer are unable to negotiate a settlement with the person at fault in your medical malpractice case, you must file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations runs out. Once the statute of limitations passes, you will be barred from filing a lawsuit and recovering any money.
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