After suffering harm at the hands of a negligent surgeon, doctor, nurse, anesthesiologist, technician, or other medical staff member, you may know you have a legal case but you might not know what to do first. Because it is essential for patients to know what to do when they are injured by medical mistakes, this article discusses what steps you need to take during an overwhelming and traumatic time such as this.
When you or a loved one has been injured by medical malpractice, knowing what steps to take—and how to take them in the right time frame—is key to your medical malpractice case. As we have previously discussed on our medical malpractice service area page, it is critical that patients take the following steps:
- Gather evidence by requesting medical records
- Know how long one has to file a legal claim
- Confirm the validity of a case through a certificate of merit
- Speak with an attorney
Taking the First Step
While these are all essential steps that victims of medical malpractice incidents should take, the most important step is calling a lawyer who has experience in handling medical malpractice cases. Whether you call our law office or another firm, it is in your best interest to discuss your potential case with an attorney who has been successful in representing other medical malpractice victims. Why? Because this is a very confusing time for victims and their families and many people aren’t thinking logically. While it is normal to be emotional over the injuries or losses you suffered, you will want someone who knows the laws and knows how to stand up to Inova or another negligent hospital or party.
Another good reason for speaking with an attorney immediately after a medical malpractice incident is that you need to let the negligent party know you mean business. A hospital or doctor’s office may tell you they will be happy to privately handle the matter with you and to not get a lawyer involved. Although they may sound helpful and remorseful, the only reason they are willing to work with you is because they know they will get away with not having to pay as much money. It is a known fact that when lawyers are involved, attorneys are typically able to get victims higher damages, which means the negligent party will have to pay out more money.
We also recommend calling an attorney when the hospital or doctor’s office is denying they made a medical mistake. Although this may seem like common sense, many people aren’t sure they even have a case when the negligent party is denying a medical error was even made. This is all the more reason to speak with an attorney.
Importance of Gathering Medical Records
And finally, it is critical to call a lawyer about your medical malpractice lawsuit because an attorney can help you request your medical records. Often times, you will experience pushback when asking for your medical records or you may even be told that HIIPA doesn’t allow it; however, this isn’t true. An attorney experienced in medical malpractice cases knows the federal health privacy rules that allow patients access to their medical records. And we won’t just ask for your medical history, we will demand consultation reports and operative reports, as well as your discharge summary.
If you were in intensive care, the hospital should have a lot of information on you, even hundreds of pages. Because hospitals can charge a certain amount of money per page for your medical records, you might not want to pay for all of these pages, but we will know what to look for. This is why we will request every lab result, test result, and nurse’s note that may validate your claim.
Once an attorney reviews your medical records, a medical expert will get involved. Medical records can help a medical expert determine if a doctor or other healthcare worker breached the standard of care. If an expert believes medical malpractice occurred in your situation, you will receive a certificate of merit—which is needed in Virginia before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Because gathering your medical records, getting a medical expert involved, and receiving a certificate of merit can be complex and overwhelming during an already devastating time in your life, an attorney can alleviate that burden. Besides knowing what steps to take, a lawyer skilled in medical malpractice claims will also know the laws surrounding medical negligence such as the statute of limitations, which states victims have two years from the date of injury to bring a lawsuit in Virginia.
If you believe you were injured by a negligent medical professional, please don’t waste another minute. Call our law firm today to have your case reviewed by a knowledgeable attorney. You can reach us for a complimentary consultation at (703) 591-0067.