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When Can You Sue Over Medical Negligence
If you have been injured by a medical professional during the course of treatment, then you may be able to file a medical negligence claim. However, proving medical negligence is a difficult task that often requires the combined expertise of legal and medical professionals.
If you think you are the victim of medical malpractice, you should seek out legal representation from an experienced medical malpractice attorney. Your attorney will be able to review information pertaining to your case and make an informed assessment of whether you have a valid medical malpractice lawsuit.
Understanding Medical Negligence
To have a strong medical malpractice claim, it is not enough for a doctor to injure you during the course of treatment. Instead, a doctor must have acted with negligence. You then must prove that this negligent act, whether a misdiagnosis, improperly administering treatment, or administering the wrong treatment, is what caused you harm.
Medical negligence occurs when a doctor or other medical professional breaches the standard of care. In general, a standard of care is the accepted methods of treatment applied by other medical professionals in the area to patients with identical or similar conditions. A standard of care will vary depending on a number of factors, including geographic area, the age of the patient, and the medical condition.
For example, if you are a 30-year-old male with pneumonia living in Texas, then the standard of care your doctor must use will be the standard other professionals use to diagnose and treat 30-year-old men with pneumonia in the area. This standard will differ from the one applied to a 75-year-old with the same condition in the same geographic area.
Proving Medical Negligence Caused Your Injury
It is not enough to just show that medical negligence occurred to file a lawsuit. You will also have to prove that this negligence act resulted in your injuries. Although this may sound like a simple task, it can require hours of research discovery and expert testimony.
Showing that the doctor's negligence resulted in your injury is called causation. There are some things you can do to help prove causation. Specifically, when meeting with your attorney, you will want to provide him or her with the following information and documentation:
- Letters received from your hospital or health care provider
- Medical receipts
- Test results
- Information related to your diagnosis
- Doctor's notes
- Pictures of your injuries
- Any personal log entries recorded regarding your medical history
Your attorney will also likely contract at least one expert witness, who will probably be a medical professional. This witness will help analyze your case from a medical perspective to help make a determination of medical negligence, as well as causation.
How Long Do You Have to File a Medical Malpractice Claim?
To be able to file a medical negligence claim, you must ensure the statute of limitations (or time period in which you can file a claim) has not expired. The statute of limitations for medical negligence claims will vary from state to state, so it is important to consult with your attorney about how long you have to file your lawsuit. In most states, this window of time is about two years.