Meeting with a medical negligence attorney to discuss the possibility of filing a claim can feel like a big moment. It's important, however, to understand the basics of how a case is handled. Here are three issues all clients should be aware of.
It's a Civil Law Issue
As angry as you might feel about the situation, nothing a medical negligence attorney does is likely to lead to criminal charges against a doctor, nurse, or medical institution. Medical negligence claims are fundamentally civil legal matters. That means the questions that have to be addressed are whether it's likely you were wronged and how might the wrong be corrected.
Simply put, financial compensation is virtually always going to be all the justice a client gets from a case. In extreme cases, it might be possible to obtain punitive damages. However, the majority of cases will never go far enough toward a trial for punitive damages to even be on the table.
You're Probably Going to Negotiate with an Insurance Company
The vast majority of doctors in the U.S. carry some form of medical malpractice insurance. Consequently, you can expect your case to be handled like a personal injury claim or a car accident case. This means an adjuster will be appointed by the insurance company once they have received your complaint. The adjuster will determine whether they feel your claim is valid, and compensation will be offered if it is.
It Will Take Some Time
One of the tougher things about medical malpractice cases is that they're very documentation-driven. This means you'll need to meet with doctors to determine what sorts of injuries you suffered due to whatever the previous medical professional did wrong. You may end up needing exploratory surgeries and various diagnostics to nail down exactly what the level of harm done was. Likewise, these doctors will provide reports that may shed light on what the cash value attached to your injuries is.
No medical negligence attorney wants to move forward with a claim until they're sure they have the big picture figured out. If you're waiting on tests to come back, for example, that's a bad time to file a claim. Similarly, a medical negligence attorney will want to talk with expert witnesses, usually doctors in the at-fault practitioner's field, to learn what the expected standard of care is. Their testimony, the reports, and other information will be assembled into a claim and a demand letter that will go to the insurance company.
For more information, contact a medical negligence attorney.