Things to know about medical malpractice

Medical malpractice is one of the most difficult areas of law. Not only are the medical issues extremely complex, but so are the legal issues.

You might remember this attention-grabbing line from Forbes a couple of years ago: "According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.—right behind heart disease and cancer." An attorney who represents medical malpractice victims discussed in the Forbes article trends and facts in this important part of our legal system.

The attorney noted that he first determines if someone is a victim of medical malpractice by looking carefully at the details of the case. A bad outcome for a hospital patient is not by itself evidence of malpractice, the attorney said. Instead, he looks for evidence of a health care provider's "negligence (that) causes injury or damages to a patient."

He also warned against insurance company tricks. If it is obvious that medical malpractice has occurred, insurers often want to settle a potential claim quickly and without any personal injury attorneys present. In that way, they have a good chance of persuading the victim to grab a small settlement rather than consult with a lawyer who understands the potential to negotiate or litigate for significantly greater compensation.

The attorney also noted that every state has filing deadlines that must be met if a claim is to be pursued. The very first step, he told Forbes, is the one headed toward a "seasoned malpractice attorney." The attorney can examine the facts and then help you pursue justice, whether the negligence involves misdiagnosis, an error in surgery, medication mistake or hospital error.



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