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Steps To Filing A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

www.reichertlegal.comYou were injured at your doctor’s office or at the hospital, or you’re sicker now than when you began treatment, you suffered unexpected side effects from the drug(s) your doctor prescribed. Or you had to undergo a second surgery for the same condition, or your child was born with an unforeseen birth defect. All these situations point to a possible medical malpractice.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

As I mention on medical malpractice is defined as negligence by a healthcare professional that leads to a patient being harmed. If a doctor made a diagnostic or treatment mistake that injured you or your child, you may sue for medical malpractice. You may also include the hospital in the lawsuit if that’s where the injury took place.

Medical malpractice lawsuits are governed by Section 5-109 of the Maryland statutes. In order to win a medical malpractice lawsuit you ultimately will need to be able to prove four things (called elements):

1. a doctor-patient relationship existed between you and the doctor;

2. the doctor failed to provide the required standard of care; i.e., was medically negligent;

3. the doctor’s medical negligence caused your injury; and

4. you suffered a specific dollar amount of injury; i.e., your damages.

The required standard of care is the type and amount of skill and attention provided by other prudent and similarly trained practitioners who live in your doctor’s area and who treat the same type of disease(s). This standard of care may vary depending on your age and medical history.

Injuries can result from a wide variety of things including the failure to diagnose, a misdiagnosis, improper treatment, an improper prescription, an incorrect or unnecessary surgical procedure, the improper use of anesthesia, the failure to inform you of all treatment risks, and birth injuries sustained by your child.

What Can Be Recovered?

There are two types of damages for which you can recover. Compensatory damages compensate you for such things as the medical expenses you paid and the wages you lost on the days you had to miss work. Non-compensatory damages compensate you for such things as physical and emotional pain and suffering.

Occasionally you also may be entitled to recover punitive damages to punish the doctor and/or the hospital for a particularly egregious breach of their required standard of care such as malicious intent. Such claims, however, are extremely difficult to prove and punitive damages are seldom awarded in Maryland medical malpractice cases.

Statute of Limitations

In Maryland, you must file your medical malpractice lawsuit within five years of the date on which your injury occurred or within three years of the date on which you discovered the injury, whichever is earlier.

For children, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until age 11. If, however, the injury was to the child’s reproductive system or involved a foreign object, the statute does not start running until age 16.

Get your paperwork together

If you’re thinking about filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, the first step is to collect and review all the paperwork you have regarding your injury. This will include all the documents you were given at the doctor’s office and/or hospital, all the insurance documents you have received, all the prescription bottles you have, all the prescription warnings documents, and anything else related to your injury.

Contact an attorney

Medical malpractice lawsuits are extremely complicated, time-consuming, and often expensive. Only a competent attorney can listen to your story, review your documents, tell you whether or not (s)he believes you have a valid medical malpractice case, tell you what additional information and documents you’ll need, and explain what you can expect in terms of the litigation process and procedure.

Your lawsuit

If you and your attorney decide to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, you can expect to be in litigation for approximately two years. As already stated, these cases are extremely complicated, the back-and-forth discovery process between plaintiff (you) and defendant (doctor/hospital) is very time-consuming, and trial dates are usually scheduled months in advance.

On the other hand, 93% of all the Maryland medical malpractice cases in 2013 settled before going to a jury verdict. Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is a serious decision, not to be made lightly. However, if you and your attorney firmly believe that your doctor caused you substantial damage and that you can prove it in a court of law, this may be the best decision you could ever make.

Guest author bio:

Kevin R. Marciano, Esquire, is the Managing Partner of Marciano & MacAvoy, P.C. Marciano focuses his practice on representing catastrophic injury victims, including claims for medical malpractice, pharmaceutical liability, motor vehicle accidents, wrongful death, product liability, premises liability, construction accidents, liquor liability, personal injury and mass tort class actions.

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