Many times victims of
medical malpractice want to handle their own claims—without the help of an attorney.
Sometimes this is okay if the incident and injury weren’t serious;
however, it is always wise to meet with an experienced medical malpractice
attorney first for a free case evaluation. If you still decide to pursue
the claim on your own, then you will need to know how to take control
of the claim from the very beginning.
Here are some things you need to know when pursuing a medical malpractice case:
Take notes. If you think you are a victim of medical malpractice, it is important
that you start keeping notes. Write down past conversations and memories
before they become foggy, and start keeping track of current and future
conversations with your doctor or other healthcare professionals (and
include the date in your notes).
Gather information. This goes without saying, but you will want to collect your medical information
and any other data related to your medical care that can help strengthen
your case. This can include your medical records, hospital bills, other
medical bills, and receipts for all of your expenses related to the act
of medical malpractice. Be aware that some hospitals and doctor’s
offices will deny or delay sending you your medical records. You need
to know that you have a right to a copy of your medical records, so don’t
let anyone tell you otherwise. Keep requesting the information until you
get it. You will then want to look through your medical records to see
if you can find any information that shows a mishap occurred with your care.
Keep track of the time. It is important that you are aware of the statute of limitations in Virginia.
You have two years from the date of injury to file a medical malpractice
case. Although it may seem like a lot of time, your claim will only weaken
over time, so you should not delay. If you are close to running out of
time, contact an attorney before the statute of limitations expires.
Educate yourself about the medical malpractice laws and your rights. After all, knowledge is power and the information you gain about your
case can help you stand up to the hospital or insurance companies involved.
You can even research similar cases that may have been tried in an effort
to help prove your case to the other side.
Seek an expert’s help. Medical malpractice cases require the help of a medical expert. This means
that you will need to find a qualified medical expert who is doctor (or
other medical professional) in the same field of medicine to go on record
and give testimony that the other doctor breached the standard of care
and caused your injuries. Once an expert agrees that another medical professional
made an error, you need to obtain a certificate of merit (which is required
if you want to pursue a lawsuit in court).
Determine compensation. Add up all of your medical bills and other expenses related to the harm
you suffered. For instance, maybe you had to hire in-home care or had
to pay for other services such as housekeeping because your injuries prevented
you from living your normal life. In addition, calculate the income you
lost and any other financial losses you suffered. You also need to put
a price tag on your pain and suffering.
Be determined. Insurance companies and doctors aren’t often quick to offer a fair
settlement—they may be quick to offer you a settlement but it probably
won’t be fair. As a result, medical malpractice cases can drag on,
and you need to stay determined. Don’t give up. You need to hold
firm to your story and don’t settle until the other side agrees
to an amount that you believe to be fair.
It is not uncommon for people to quickly feel like they are in over their
heads when taking on a hospital or medical practice. If at any time along
the journey you would like to enlist the help of a medical malpractice
attorney, please contact our law firm for a complimentary consultation.