Doctors, pharmaceutical companies, and all other health care providers have certain duties to patients. They must provide them with a reasonable standard of care that minimizes the chances of patients being harmed in avoidable ways.
Sometimes, they don’t fulfill this duty. A patient may be able to recover compensation for their medical bills and related losses when this happens by filing a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit. This is unfortunately more common than many realize. Some research indicates medical error is the third-leading cause of death in America.
Medical malpractice statutes vary from one state to another. The specific wording of the relevant statute in one state may be somewhat different from the wording of another state’s medical malpractice law. In general, though, medical malpractice cases arise when patients can show the following:
- A health care provider had a duty to offer a patient a certain standard of care;
- A health care provider negligently failed to fulfill their duty;
- A patient was harmed as a result of said negligence;
- The patient sustained injuries and/or losses for which they can be compensated.
Do you suspect you have grounds to file a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit? If so, the best way to determine whether you should proceed to take legal action is to review your case with a medical malpractice attorney. It’s helpful to consult with an expert in these circumstances.
In the meantime, you may consider the following factors to help you better understand if you have a case:
If You Knew About the Risks of Being Harmed
It’s important to understand that patients don’t have justification to seek compensation any time a health care provider causes harm in some capacity. The law only requires that health care providers exercise reasonable care.
This is because some medical procedures and treatments have an inherent risk of causing harm. For example, a patient may elect to undergo a surgical procedure knowing that, while it could potentially result in injury, it’s necessary to address a major health issue.
Doctors must ensure patients are fully aware of the risks associated with the treatments they’re receiving. If you were harmed as a result of a treatment in a way that you didn’t know was possible because no one warned you, you might have a right to compensation.
If You Sustained Losses You Can Be Compensated For
You can’t just recover compensation because you think you deserve it. A health care provider’s negligence must have caused losses that you can genuinely recover compensation for.
An obvious example would be medical bills. If a doctor causes injury, you may need additional costly medical treatment.
Another common example is lost wages. In some instances, severe injuries prevent patients from being able to work and earn an income.
If You Think Another Party Besides a Doctor Was Negligent
Some people who have reason to file medical malpractice claims opt not to because of certain misunderstandings. They may assume only doctors themselves can be the targets of medical malpractice claims and lawsuits. If they don’t necessarily believe a doctor was negligent, they might believe they can’t pursue compensation.
That’s not always an accurate assumption. For example, maybe your doctor prescribed a medication that caused unexpected harm, but you don’t get the sense that they were being negligent when they prescribed it.
You might be correct. However, it’s possible the pharmaceutical company was negligent. Perhaps your doctor was unaware of a medication’s potential to cause harm because the drug company didn’t properly alert them.
The main point to remember is that it’s very wise to speak with a professional when you think you might have a medical malpractice case. Only a lawyer is genuinely qualified to determine if legal action is advisable.