When you get injured or suffer from a serious health issue, you usually rely on your doctor’s expertise to make correct diagnoses and give you proper treatment to improve your condition. Unfortunately, healthcare professionals sometimes fail to meet the standards of caring for patients who may end up being severely harmed in the process.

According to statistics, more than 250,000 people in the United States die every year from medical errors and negligence. California is one state that has the largest amount of medical malpractice reports in which health care providers or facilities are being sued for failing to perform their duties competently.

Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit with the help of an attorney from a reputable law firm like Easton & Easton, LLP could help you hold such negligent medical professionals accountable for their harmful actions and omission.

Because this is a rather challenging process, it is important that you know what such lawsuits involve in order to receive the right compensation.

Hiring a lawyer vs. self-representation

When filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, it is always advised to have a lawyer with experience handle your claim. In fact, hiring the right attorney can bring you plenty of benefits and the compensation you deserve. These include navigation through the procedural aspects of the case and legal guidance which will ensure you are getting the best deal for your situation.

On the other hand, many people often decide to handle their claims on their own. However, knowing how to file a medical malpractice lawsuit without a lawyer in California is very important because there are several crucial steps you need to complete first in order to win your case. 

Types of medical malpractice

Generally speaking, a wide variety of situations can lead to a medical malpractice claim, from a doctor leaving a piece of surgical equipment in a patient’s stomach to prescribing the wrong medication which results in further and fatal consequences. However, most claims fall into one of the three main categories

  • Medical misdiagnosis
  • Improper treatment
  • Failure to warn a patient of any previously known risks

For example, incorrectly diagnosing a health condition is serious medical malpractice that can significantly affect a patient’s chances of recovery. If a doctor diagnoses a patient who has lung cancer with a less serious issue like allergies, the patient will not get the proper medical attention they need to treat their condition. Therefore, this would serve as a viable medical malpractice claim.  

Requirements for medical malpractice claims

To file a medical malpractice claim, there are a few requirements you need to meet. These mainly include providing compelling evidence about the medical professional’s negligence soon after the injury or damage happened and your relationship with them as their patient.

The first one is actually very important because you need to be able to show that the doctor caused you harm in some way in connection with your diagnosis or treatment. Their care is not required to be the best possible, but simply reasonably skillful and careful.

However, if a patient comes in with a preexisting condition or injury and passes away as a result, proving whether the doctor did something negligent may be a bit harder.

What does the process involve?

The process of filing a medical malpractice claim is lengthy and occurs in several steps.

First, the plaintiff, who is the person who complains, files a lawsuit in a court of law. Before the trial starts, both the plaintiff and the defendant, which is the party being sued, share information through discovery. If they come to an agreement without settling in court, the case won’t go to trial.

If the case proceeds to trial, both parties need to present their evidence to experts to explain their case and then the fact-finder will decide which party is the most credible. A verdict will be given by the judge who will decide on the compensation for each party. If either party is dissatisfied with the verdict, they can file an appeal.

Settlement of medical malpractice claims

If the plaintiff wins the case, they may be awarded compensatory and punitive damages.

Compensatory damages include economic damages such as lost earning capacity, life care expenses and medical bills. There may also be non-economic damages which include psychological and physical harm such as losing one’s vision or body part, extreme pain and emotional distress.

Punitive damages are a form of punishment and are only awarded if the defendant is found guilty in the case. It is compensation in addition to the actual damages.

Final thoughts

Medical malpractice lawsuits are among the most complex types of personal injury claims which are costly, long and stressful. Whether you decide to hire an attorney to navigate you through the process and provide you with legal guidance or choose to represent yourself in court, it is crucial that you know what goes into filing such a lawsuit.

To help you along, refer back to our post and learn everything you need to know when considering a medical malpractice lawsuit against a healthcare professional.