6 Steps to Take If You Believe You Have a Malpractice Claim

A Wooden Gavel, Calculator, Stethoscope, and Medication Sitting on a Medical BillIf you were injured by a medical professional's negligent care, you might be wondering if it's possible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit and seek compensation for damages. Understanding what actually constitutes medical malpractice can be helpful when determining whether to file a lawsuit. If and when you do feel that you were the victim of medical malpractice, there are a number of steps you can take to help strengthen your claim.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is more than just receiving a poor health-related outcome or having a bad experience with a medical caregiver, such as a doctor, nurse, or technician. In California, the criteria for determining medical malpractice is fairly strict. For example, in order for a medical professional's actions to be considered medical malpractice, the victim will be required to show that the caregiver was negligent, providing medical care that was substandard. However, if the victim would have received the same care from an equivalently trained medical professional in the same circumstances, the case will likely not be considered medical malpractice.

Additionally, for a medical professional's error to be medical malpractice, the victim must have suffered a serious or significant injury. If the victim was not injured by the doctor or other medical caregiver's mistake—or only sustained a minor injury—medical malpractice may not apply.

Examples of potential medical malpractice include:

  • Missed or delayed diagnosis of a serious or life-threatening condition.

  • Misdiagnosis of a serious illness that results in the patient receiving the wrong treatment or a delay in the appropriate treatment.

  • Failing to secure a patient's consent for a procedure.

  • Breach of doctor-patient confidentiality.

Important Steps for Medical Malpractice Victims to Take When Considering Filing a Lawsuit

If you believe that you're a victim of medical malpractice, these steps are essential to establishing a strong claim:

  1. Contact the medical professional in question. Allow the doctor, nurse, or technician to explain what went wrong with your care or treatment. Determine if the mistake is something that can be fixed. The medical professional may agree to remedy the situation by providing additional services or treatments free of charge.

  2. Seek medical treatment from another medical provider. Getting a second opinion from another medical professor can provide valuable insight into whether your situation is actually medical malpractice. Provide the doctor, nurse, or technician with comprehensive medical records, and make sure to explain how the previous provider's mistake has negatively impacted your health.

  3. Continue to carefully document your medical history and keep a journal. Having well-documented medical records is essential when pursing a settlement from the court or the provider's insurance company. In addition to your medical records, save all of the receipts for your medical expenses. Keeping a daily journal about how you're feeling can also be helpful.

  4. Consider settling your medical malpractice claim out of court. Medical malpractice lawsuits can be both lengthy and costly. If you're offered a fair settlement, accepting it may provide much faster closure. However, if you feel the settlement amount offer is not fair, consulting a personal injury attorney and filing a medical malpractice lawsuit may be in your best interest.

  5. Contact the medical licensing board. If you're worried that your former doctor's negligent care may harm another patient, you may want to report the doctor's actions to the relevant licensing board. While the licensing board does not have the authority to order the medical professional to provide you with compensation, they may choose to discipline the provider.

  6. Seek experienced legal representation and file your lawsuit. If your attorney feels that you have a strong case, he can file your lawsuit and help you seek financial compensation for damages. The lawsuit must be filed within one year of the date the victim knew about the injury or three years from the date of the injury.

Were You Injured by a Negligent Doctor? Our Medical Malpractice Attorneys Are Here to Help

If you were injured by a medical professional's negligence, you may be facing a painful and difficult recovery that could entitle you to pursue compensation for damages. The skilled injury recovery attorneys with the Inland Empire Law Group can help you seek compensation for medical bills related to your injury, as well as pain and suffering, and even lost wages if your injury prevents you from working. Contact our law offices in Victorville or Rancho Cucamonga today for a free and confidential evaluation of your medical malpractice case.