There are many careers where the level of training undertaken, and the expertise required to fulfill the role is greater than most. Professions such as teaching, the legal arena, and medical practitioners are all held in great esteem due to the wealth of knowledge and skill that they are believed to possess. As a result, the expectation levels for the competence and ability for those professions is much higher and but none more so than in the medical profession.
Unfortunately, as with any profession, there are those working in the medical world who, through lack of knowledge, professionalism, experience, skill, due care and attention, or as a result of misjudgment make mistakes. When these mistakes occur it can cause undue distress, pain and suffering to the patient and in the most extreme cases can even lead to loss of life. In these circumstances, there is a possibility for the patient, or their family to instigate legal proceedings to prove that ‘medical malpractice’ has occurred.
The first action anyone who thinks their medical professional has done something wrong is not, as many might expect, to rush out and secure the services of a legal representative. Instead, you should contact the medical professional concerned and discuss your issue. It could be some simple treatment can resolve the problem and most doctors would normally do this without any fee being charged.
If that does not resolve the issue then the next steps are to contact the appropriate Medical Licensing Board, who can give you advice, discipline the practitioner or order them to treat you further without any charge. They cannot, however, order them to pay you compensation or damages.
If these steps do not resolve the problem for you then you may wish to pursue the legal route in order to sue for medical malpractice. It is desirable to employ the services of a lawyer whose primary field of operation is medical malpractice rather than an attorney who deals solely with criminal or matrimony law for example.
Depending on what state you live in, your attorney will advise you if there are any time limits, or ‘statute of limitations’ that apply to your case. This is particularly important if some time has elapsed since the treatment in question was administered. In addition, some states require you to produce a ‘certificate of merit’ from a third-party medical professional. These certificates are documented evidence from the third-party medical professional stating that they believe any injury or suffering you are experiencing is, in their judgement, as a result of the original practitioner’s actions.
Your attorney will obviously gather all the relevant evidence and if they believe it has merit pursue it for you. One possible result is that an out of court settlement is agreed, which will avoid the stress and costs of going to court. If all else fails, then the final action is to go to court. Your case will most likely be heard in the state court, and in front of a jury who will listen to the evidence from both sides and determine if medical malpractice has occurred. if so, they will set levels of damages which can include compensatory damages, for loss of earnings and the like, plus damages relating to injury, pain and suffering.