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.