Medical malpractice causes great harm to its victims. More than 250,000 people die due to medical errors each year in the U.S. If you are the victim of medical malpractice, you already know how much harm it causes. The pain goes beyond physical pain. Medical malpractice is a traumatic experience that not only can cause death or serious injury but can leave victims and their loved ones with severe emotional damage and costly medical bills. The worst part about medical malpractice is that, by definition, it is avoidable. Medical malpractice can damage the reputation of the medical provider community at large and can damage our communities’ general health. People who need medical care may be afraid to go to the doctor out of fear of falling victim to medical malpractice, which causes numerous societal problems.
Because medical malpractice is societally damaging on multiple levels, it is important that its victims report the malpractice and seek compensation for the damages it causes. However, if you need to file a medical malpractice claim, it is not always clear how to do so. Understanding how to file a medical malpractice claim is the first step toward correcting medical malpractice’s ills.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
If you plan to file a medical malpractice claim, you should first know what the legal elements of medical malpractice are. A typical legal definition of medical malpractice has three parts:
- A violation of the medical standard of care;
- An injury caused by the standard of care violation; and
First, like attorneys and other professionals, medical providers are all subject to certain standards. Legally, these comprise the standard of care. The standard of care is the standard that a provider with similar education and expertise in the community would provide. Any medical care a medical provider delivers should meet this standard of care. A violation of the standard of care is the first element of a medical malpractice claim.
A violation of a standard of care alone does not trigger medical malpractice liability. The violation of the standard of care must cause an injury to a patient to support a medical malpractice claim. In other words, a doctor giving you the wrong medication is not enough; the wrong medication must cause injury.
Finally, the injury that the standard of care violation causes must cause damage. As a practical matter, you will not be able to pursue a medical malpractice claim unless you can show that you suffered substantial damages. The reason for this is that medical malpractice claims are expensive to litigate. Medical malpractice claims often involve expert testimony on more than one level. Thus, a viable medical malpractice claim must rise beyond the potential costs of its litigation.
How Do I File a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Every state has different guidelines for filing medical malpractice claims. Often, however, as is the case in Indiana, you file a medical malpractice complaint with the state’s department of insurance. A medical malpractice attorney will help you file the claim.
It is important to understand your own state’s medical malpractice rules before filing a claim. To this end, it is important to consult with a malpractice lawyer. A medical malpractice attorney in your area will know the relevant rules and guide you through the process of filing a claim. They will also tell you whether your claim is viable. It is important to retain an attorney when filing a medical malpractice claim because the rules can be complex and, compared to other forms of civil litigation, quite extensive. The amount of damages in a typical medical malpractice claim exceeds most other civil claims (like car accidents). The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has a website to help you compare the rules in each of the 50 states. If you’re thinking about filing a claim, it’s a good place to start.