Frequently Asked Medical Negligence Law Questions
Questions about the Consultation Process
What should I tell you on the initial phone consultation or claim form?
The main goal is to figure out what happened. In order to prove a case, there needs to be:
- Negligence: there needs to be proof that a medical provider (doctor, nurse, hospital, etc) violated the standard of care.
- Causation: the negligent actions of the medical provider must have been a cause of the injury.
- Damages: there needs to be a recognizable injury which can include physical harm, wage loss, and others.
In order to figure this out, an attorney will ask about what happened to lead up to the injury, the cause of the injury, the effects of the injury, and other questions. The form on the website helps provide some guidance with specific questions to get at the facts of any potential case.
How much do you charge for a medical negligence case consultation?
There is no charge to a case consultation. That includes talking on the phone for the initial consultation or reviewing the medical records. I do not charge to look and determine if you have a potential lawsuit.
Do I need to obtain the medical records?
For an initial consult regarding a potential medical malpractice case, there is normally no need to get the medical records. As long as you know the factual background of what happened, that can help determine whether a more intensive review of the medical records is warranted. If there is a potential case then I will help you obtain to medical records so I can review them and provide my legal insight to you.
Why should I choose Med Injury Law?
I firmly believe that if you're looking to have your case evaluated, you should speak to an attorney to hear the facts and provide you a legal point of view. Simply put, I try to make the legal process as easy as possible for you and your family to deal with. I understand that something traumatic has happened to your family and that deciding to bring a lawsuit is not easy. However, I make it my goal to be there with you throughout the process to support you and your family and to get you the compensation you deserve. You will be able to talk to me at any time regarding what is going on with your potential case. I have the connections and know-how to win medical malpractice cases and maximize getting the compensation you deserve.
Questions about the Initial Filing of a Lawsuit
I am hesitant to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit. Why should I think about bringing a lawsuit?
The decision to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit is never easy. There are three reasons why bringing a medical injury lawsuit will be the right decision at the end of the day, I call it ABC.
- Accountability. Sometimes the only way to know why an injury happened and to get medical providers to recognize dangerous practices is through a lawsuit. The legal process can help bring those accountable to the discussion in order to fix problems moving forward.
- Bravery. Bringing a lawsuit has the potential improve medicine and prevent potential injuries to others in the future. It is brave to be someone who is willing to take the lead in bringing about change in negligent practices. Medical organizations can be large, powerful entities that sometimes lose sight of the care in healthcare. Challenging that through a lawsuit is courageous.
- Compensation. If you or a family member has been injured as a result of negligent medical practices, then you should deserve fair compensation. Medical injuries can be long lasting and expensive to deal with and you should not bear the costs if it occurred due to negligence. While compensation is not guaranteed, sometimes the only way to get the fair compensation that justice demands is through filing a lawsuit.
How much time do I have to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit?
The time limits you have to file a medical malpractice lawsuit can be tricky. Each state has different rules, so you should consult with an attorney to understand the time limits for your particular case. As a general rule in the state of Washington, there is a three-year time limit from the date of the injury to file a case but it can be as short as two years in some cases. If you did not discover the injury until after three years, there is a one-year discovery rule. For children who have been injured, the time limits do not begin until they turn eighteen, but their parents claim start at the time of injury. There are other exceptions that apply for certain scenarios based on statutes and case law in Washington. Reach out to an attorney regarding time limits of your potential case.
What should I do before filing a medical negligence lawsuit?
Your lawyer will help you with determining what needs to be done before filing a medical negligence lawsuit. Some of the things your attorney may do is:
- Gather documents for the case;
- Review the medical records themselves to determine legal dynamics of the potential case;
- Consult with medical experts who review the records to determine if there was a violation of the standard of care and whether that caused the injury;
- Review the case-law to determine how the facts fit in with past cases;
- Review statutes and rules to ensure all the legal processes that apply to your potential case are followed (venue, filing rules, etc.);
- Prepare legal filings;
- And many more things.
These cases require a lot of work and good preparation can help set the potential lawsuit for success. Consult with an attorney to determine what needs to be done before filing a lawsuit.
Questions about the Lawsuit Process in Washington
What has to be proved in a medical malpractice lawsuit?
There are three general things that must be proved in a medical malpractice lawsuit. First, that there was negligence on behalf of the medical provider. Second, that the negligence was a cause of the injury. Third, damages that resulted from the injury. To break that down a little more:
- Medical Negligence. There needs to be proof that the medical provider did not act within the standard of care of their profession at the time. In most cases this requires a medical provider in the same or similar position as the defendant(s) to opine that the defendant did not act with the degree of care, skill, and learning expected of a reasonably prudent medical professional in that position.
- Medical Causation. There will need to be proof that the defendant(s) failure to act within the standard of care was a cause of the injury or injuries that have been suffered. In most cases, this is also proven through a medical provider that has expertise with the injury in question. They will need to opine the more likely than not cause of the injury was the negligent actions of the defendant(s).
- Damages. There will need to be proof of what damages the injury has caused you or your family. This is usually done by telling your story of what happened and what has changed as a result of the negligence of the medical providers. The types of damages can include economic (wage loss, medical expenses, etc.), non-economic (pain and suffering), and more. Experts such as medical providers, economists, and others may provide some insight into the damages of an injury.
What will I have to do during the lawsuit?
Each lawsuit process is a bit different but in general the process will go as follows. Once a lawsuit has been filed on your behalf, the opposing attorney(s) will appear on behalf of the defendant(s). At that point the court issues a case schedule which determine the deadlines for certain procedures in the case. After that, the discovery process begins. The discovery process involves each side asking for evidence, documents, and proof that support the other side's position. There may be document requests and written questions that the other side asks of you and your family to support your claim. Your attorney will work with you to respond to these. Your attorney will likely ask the other side for materials as well. You, your family, and people with knowledge of the facts may be deposed. A deposition is a process where the defendant(s) attorney will get to ask you questions under oath, likely in a conference room, with a court reporter. Your attorney will help you understand the process more and should be present with you, your family members, or others to help facilitate the process. If the case proceeds to trial, you may be asked to attend and testify regarding things relevant to the case. Your attorney will be able to assist you with each step of the process to make sure you are comfortable, prepared, and have an advocate looking out for your interests.
How long does it take to get to trial?
The time it takes for a case to get to trial can vary a lot depending on the local court procedures and availability. When you file a lawsuit, a trial date may or may not be set automatically. Sometimes it gets set about a year from filing while other times the parties request a trial date to be set for a certain time. Depending on the court procedures, course of discovery, and complexity of the case, the trial date may get continued to a later date. There are a number of factors that affect trial dates which usually requires being flexible with scheduling.
How often do these cases end up with a settlement?
The determination of whether to offer to settle a case is generally made by the defendant(s), their insurance companies, and the defense attorneys. However, when settlement is offered, the decision to settle is with you. Your attorney can help you determine whether the settlement offer is fair. When the negligence, causation, and damages elements are clear, there is a higher chance of getting a potential settlement offer. However, medical providers are often held with high regard in society and the defense knows that. Therefore, negligence, causation, and/or damages are often aggressively challenged. When negligence, causation, and/or damages are challenged, cases may settle for less or go to trial. When negligence, causation, and/or damages cannot be proved, most of these cases must be dismissed for lack of the necessary support to prove the case. In some cases, the defense will file motions to dismiss the case because elements of the case cannot be met, and a judge will decide based on law whether that is true. This is why it is very important to work with an attorney who will help establish a case of clear negligence, causation, and damages to help you get the compensation you deserve.