Understanding When You Can Sue Your Doctor

Getting care from a doctor involves placing trust in the hands of another person that he or she will do the best job possible to provide the necessary treatment. When something goes wrong or the outcome is not the one that was expected, it is normal to be angry and frustrated. Many people investigate whether a lawsuit may be brought against the doctor. Depending on whether or not there was negligence, legal action may be a potential solution to the problem.

In order to bring a medical malpractice case against a doctor, there need to be four elements present, which are:

  • There was a relationship between the doctor and patient that created a duty of care – this means that you cannot bring a lawsuit against the woman who spoke generally about a possible medical condition at a dinner party. Both parties must intend to enter into the doctor-patient relationship. In an emergency situation, there may be implied consent;
  • The doctor breached the duty of care – there are many different medical standards of care, depending on the specific field of the doctor. A breach of the standard occurs when the doctor’s behavior deviates from the care that would have been provided by a reasonable and competent doctor with the same or similar education, training, and experience;
  • There was harm to the patient – a person must have sustained an actual injury to commence a legal action against a doctor. Even if the doctor was negligent in some manner, if the error or mistake did not result in quantifiable harm, then a lawsuit is not going to be successful; and
  • The actions of the doctor led to the injury – there are situations where a patient sustained an injury while receiving medical care, but the doctor was not responsible for the harm that was done. It is necessary to show that there was a direct causal relationship between the actions of the doctor and the injury to the patient.

Making the Decision about Whether or Not to File

Even if a person is able to prove that he was hurt as the direct result of a doctor’s preventable error, it may not be the right decision to bring a medical malpractice case against the doctor. The reason for this is that there are many complex requirements in the filing and litigating of a medical negligence case, including retaining (and paying for) a qualified expert, going through the discovery process, and actually litigating the case. These legal actions are very expensive to pursue and if the damages are not extensive enough, it may not be worth the time and money for an attorney to take the case. However, there still may be options, including notifying the facility at which the doctor works and the insurance provider for the individual who committed the malpractice and potentially negotiating a reasonable settlement.

One of the first things that a person who suspects that he or she may have been the victim of medical malpractice should do is consult with an experienced attorney. Many medical malpractice attorneys do not charge a fee for this consultation and will provide insight into the likelihood of a successful outcome – keep in mind that every case is different and there are no guarantees. If the injury is severe and there will be long-term or permanent harm, then it may be the right decision to pursue the litigation. Once a case has been filed, it still may be possible to reach an out-of-court resolution of the matter before it goes to trial. Many people choose this option as it allows them to focus on their lives, including ongoing treatment and rehabilitation, rather than the stress of a lawsuit.

Stern Law, PLLC Advocates for the Victim of Medical Negligence

It may be difficult to know what options are available when you have been injured after seeking care or treatment from a doctor. Getting answers from an experienced medical malpractice attorney can provide the framework for the right decision for you. At Stern Law, PLLC, our attorney has worked hard on behalf of our clients to get them the results that they deserve, but we never forget that there are many more people suffering and wondering what choices they have. In addition to the legal representation that we provide to our clients, we have dedicated staff available to answer questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for anyone who has a question or concern, regardless of whether or not you are our client. Nobody should have to live with unanswered questions about medical malpractice and whether he or she is a victim of a preventable mistake. Call us at 1-844-808-7529 or fill out an online contact form in order to learn how we can help you get through this difficult time.

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