Recent studies indicate around 250,000 Americans die each year because of a preventable error committed by a healthcare provider. The staggering number makes medical malpractice the third leading cause of death in the United States behind cancer and heart disease. Add to the death count the number of Americans that survived a medical malpractice incident and we have an epidemic on our hands.
Many victims of medical malpractice never realize a healthcare provider committed an error that caused one or more injuries. The belief that “Doctors never make mistakes” is a common theme for victims that never report acts of medical negligence. However, a growing number of patients have discovered they were victims of a preventable medical error.
If you believe a healthcare provider committed one or more acts of healthcare negligence, the time has come to follow six tips for handling a medical malpractice case.
Tip #1: Put Your Health Above Everything Else
Victims of medical negligence need to make their health priority number one. If you think the doctor who treated you committed an act of negligence, you should search for another doctor to correct the medical mistake. The second doctor needs to review your medical records and conduct a series of tests before making a diagnosis.
Another reason you should find a second doctor is to get proof that the first doctor committed medical malpractice. The second doctor might discover what happened during a diagnostic test or a treatment program that caused one or more of your injuries. After the second doctor fixes the mistakes made by the first doctor, you should have some of the medical documents you need to prove negligence.
Tip #2: Meet with an Attorney
One of the reasons why some victims of medical malpractice never receive the just compensation they deserve is because they choose not to work with a California-licensed medical malpractice lawyer.
Some victims put the cart before the horse by waiting too long before reaching out to an experienced attorney. After you take care of your health issues by seeing another doctor, the second item on your to-do list involves scheduling a free case evaluation with a medical malpractice lawyer.
Before the free case evaluation with an attorney, you should receive instructions about how to prepare for the meeting. Your lawyer should ask you to bring every medical record that pertains to your case.
Tip #3: Collect and Organize Medical Evidence
The second doctor provided you with every medical record, including documents that demonstrate the negligence committed by the first doctor. You still need to request medical records from the first doctor who might refuse your request. This is where your attorney can help by persuading the first doctor to hand over copies of your medical records. You should receive the results of every diagnostic test, every procedure related to your case, and the results of a rehabilitation program.
Medications often play a role in medical malpractice cases, which means you should give your lawyer copies of prescription drug receipts. Organize the medical evidence by date to give your lawyer a timeline of the events that developed into a medical malpractice case.
Tip #4: Keep a Health Journal
The time between when you first meet with a medical malpractice lawyer and when a civil lawsuit begins can take months, if not a couple of years. During this time, you should keep a health journal that describes any symptoms that you feel, as well as the severity of the symptoms. You might have needed additional treatment from the second doctor and/or a specialist that was referred to you by the second doctor.
Keeping a daily journal gives your lawyer and possibly the judge or the jury hearing your lawsuit insight into how the act or acts of medical negligence has adversely impacted your health.
Tip #5: Never Communicate with the Other Party
At some point before litigation starts, the attorney representing the defendant might try to contact you in hope of settling before trial. Another reason you want to work with a California malpractice lawyer is your attorney acts as your eyes, ears, and voice. Your lawyer negotiates with the other party’s attorney. Some lawyers representing healthcare providers try to exploit the lack of knowledge plaintiffs have about the legal process for a medical malpractice case.
Tip #6: Act with a Sense of Urgency
Time can be an issue when participating in litigation. There is a deadline for reporting medical malpractice, as well as a statute of limitations for filing a civil lawsuit. Your attorney will ensure you submit the right paperwork before every deadline to expedite the legal process.