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Top 10 Tips About Suing Your Doctor For Medical Malpractice

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Medical malpractice is a lawsuit brought against a physician who provides incompetent care. Read on for the top 10 tips about suing your doctor for medical malpractice

  1. Medical malpractice is a type of personal injury: This means that it is a form of tort litigation and the trial - if it goes to trial - will be in state court. Your doctor is entitled to a jury trial, and a jury will decide what happens. Your damages for the injury, since it is a tort, can include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress and in some cases punitive damages.
  2. Doctors must behave according to a reasonable standard of care: When a jury determines whether your doctor committed medical malpractice, it will compare his behavior to how a reasonably competent doctor would have behaved. A poor medical result is not necessarily always medical malpractice, unless your doctor breached this duty to be reasonably competent.
  3. Failure to obtain informed consent is a form of medical malpractice: When you undergo a medical treatment, your doctor is required to obtain informed consent. The consent must be truly informed, which means he must have explained the procedure, any potential risks or side effects, and your other options. If your doctor didn't obtain informed consent, you may be entitled to legal damages.
  4. A misdiagnosis can also be a form of medical malpractice: If a reasonably competent doctor would have diagnosed you correctly, then the failure of your doctor to make the right diagnosis can be a form of medical malpractice. If the misdiagnosis injured you, you may be able to obtain compensation through a lawsuit.
  5. Keeping records is key: Make sure you keep careful records of everything your doctor told you and of any side effects or problems you experienced. You should also keep records of any money you spent or lost as a result of the mistake. If you are suing for pain and suffering damages as well, you should also keep a detailed journal of the suffering you endured.
  6. Get a second, third or even fourth option: Because medicine can be subjective, you will want to have several doctors who can determine whether your doctor behaved properly or not. If several other medical professionals believe your doctor acted improperly, this can strengthen your case.
  7. You need to prove the damage came from the negligence: If your doctor didn't diagnose your heart condition and then you had a heart attack, you can only recover damages in court if your heart attack wouldn't have happened had the doctor acted properly. If you can't prove that your damages would have been less had the doctor behaved properly, you may have a difficult time recovering.
  8. Some states limit your damages: Some states have instituted tort reform which limits your non-economic damages. This means your pain and suffering, emotional distress and other damages that aren't actual financial loss, can be limited.
  9. The case can hinge on your expert opinions: When you go to court to prove medical malpractice, you will need qualified and competent doctors to testify that your doctor did something wrong. The better and more qualified your witnesses are, the better your chances of winning your case.
  10. Most cases settle out-of-court: Doctors all have medical malpractice insurance, and those insurance carriers will likely be footing the bill. Often, the insurers will make an offer of a lump sum payment as a settlement. If you accept the payment, you know just how much you are going to recover in damages - but you must give up your right to sue.

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