Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations

October 17, 2008

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or medical practitioner acts with negligence when treating you and in doing so causes you physical or emotional damages. When this occurs, you have the legal right to seek compensation from that doctor, however you only have a certain amount of time to do so. The time frame in which you can pursue legal action is referred to as the medical malpractice statute of limitations, and it’s very important that you understand what this timeframe is and how it works if you are a victim of medical malpractice.

Typically the medical malpractice statute of limitations varies, depending on the state in which you reside. For example, a person who has suffered injury do to a doctor’s negligence in Pennsylvania generally has two years from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit and seek compensation. Other states may have longer time frames, and yet others have shorter ones. It’s critical that you find out the statute of limitations that your state imposes as soon as you determine you are going to seek legal action.

As with any rule, however, there are exceptions. One such exception to the medical malpractice statute of limitations is called the “discovery rule”. This occurs when a doctor makes a mistake but the symptoms or negative affects to the patient don’t make themselves known until quite a bit later. In situations such as this, the patient isn’t necessarily held to the state statute of limitations because they were not aware of the incident and subsequent damages until after or well into the allotted time frame. States typically still put a cap on the length of time that a patient is allowed to file a lawsuit to prevent frivolous claims.

It’s important that you not rely on the possibility of falling back on the discovery rule. It’s much more difficult to prove and can make your case that much harder to win. Your best bet is always to act quickly and file your claim well within the medical malpractice statute of limitations; the closer to the incident that you begin legal action the better. Remember, the clock starts ticking almost immediately, as soon as the negligence or injury occurs, so don’t delay in taking action.

Knowing your rights is crucial in being successful in a medical malpractice suit, so that’s why it’s good to speak with a lawyer who specializes in negligence cases. He or she will know the law in your state and be able to explain your options and rights to you so that you fully understand and are prepared should you end up in court over the matter. Your attorney will closely examine your case and determine whether you meet the medical malpractice statute of limitations, and if not, whether you meet the criteria for the discovery rule.

The bottom line is when it comes to medical negligence time isn’t necessarily on your side. You must be diligent and fully aware of how the law works in your state so that you act well within the medical malpractice statute of limitations in order to be successful in your claim.


Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

October 16, 2008

Statistics show that cases of doctor negligence are on the rise, so it’s not surprising that medical malpractice lawsuits are increasing steadily as well. Chances are good that you or someone you know will, at some point, be part of such a lawsuit, so knowing what they are and understanding how they work is important.

The first step in filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is hiring an experienced malpractice attorney. He or she will gather the medical documentation and send notice of the claim to the medical professional in question. If the doctor chooses not to admit fault and settle the claim, your attorney will file a case in your jurisdiction and you will be assigned a date on which a trial will be held in front of a judge.

Prior to the date of the trial, both your attorney and the doctor’s defense attorney will share information relating to the case. This process is referred to as discovery. Typically depositions, interrogatories and documentation requests all occur during the discovery period. In medical malpractice lawsuits, often times the parties will be able to come to an agreement and a settlement will be offered. If this does not happen, however, your lawsuit will move on to the trial phase.

In court, you (also known as the plaintiff) have the burden of proving your case. Your attorney will present evidence including medical records, statements from independent experts, documentation and may even call witnesses to testify on your behalf. The doctor (or defendant) will also have the opportunity to present evidence in the hopes of proving that they did not act negligently.

After both sides have finished presenting their cases, it will be up to the judge or jury to weigh the evidence, consider what they’ve been presented with, and decide whether malpractice truly occurred. Once a verdict is rendered, the defendant will be found either guilty or not guilty.

If the defendant is found not guilty, he or she will be absolved of all wrongdoing. If a guilty verdict is handed down, however, the trial will move on to the final phase, and you will be awarded a settlement amount determined by the judge presiding over the case.

Keep in mind that both sides have the right to appeal the verdict once the case is concluded.

With more and more doctors today being under trained, over worked and financially squeezed by insurance companies, it’s no wonder mistakes are being made that are causing serious injury or even death to innocent patients. If you or someone you know has been the victim of negligence on the part of a doctor or hospital, know your rights. Hire a reputable attorney to represent you, and file a medical malpractice lawsuit immediately. You have a right to fight back and win.


Doctor Negligence

October 10, 2008

Every patient who visits a doctor or medical professional deserves fair and ethical treatment. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case and mistakes occur. Claims of doctor negligence is becoming more and more common these days, so it’s important that you understand what it is and how to deal with it. You are a victim of doctor negligence when a medical professional fails to act with the proper standard of care with which other doctors in the same field would act, resulting in injury and damages to you.

Keep in mind, though, that not every medical mistake constitutes doctor negligence. If you visit a doctor or medical professional and they take appropriate measures to diagnose and treat you, such as running tests and consulting with specialists, but you still have medical complications or are misdiagnosed, then a medical or doctor negligence case will be difficult to prove.

Doctor negligence comes into play when the physician in question blatantly or knowingly fails to act in an appropriate way to diagnose or treat their patient. This failure to exercise due care must then result in damages to the patient, either financial or emotional, in order to bring a negligence suit against the doctor.

If you feel that you have been a victim of doctor negligence, and your situation meets the criteria above, document everything that happens to you and all of your interactions with the doctor in question. You will need as much proof as possible to win such a case should it end up going to court. The next step is to hire a lawyer. But make sure that the medical lawyer specializes in doctor negligence cases, because these types of lawsuits can be complex and confusing. Your attorney can advise you whether or not you even have a negligence case, and if so, he or she will assist you in gathering the appropriate evidence to prove your claim.

There are three possible outcomes cases of doctor negligence. The first is that the medical practitioner in question will settle the case and offer you a monetary payment not to move forward with the lawsuit. The second option is that the doctor will admit fault and request that a settlement be decided in arbitration. And the last option is that the doctor completely denies any negligence on his or her part. If this happens, your case of doctor negligence will then go either to mediation or to court, to be decided by a judge.

If you end up in mediation or court, are successful and you are rewarded compensation, the settlement can be quite substantial. Settlements in doctor negligence cases include both compensatory damages, such as lost wages and medical expenses, and punitive damages like emotional or psychological damage directly related to the injury. Punitive damages, however, are harder to prove.

Regardless of the situation, it is absolutely critical to have an experienced attorney representing you in your doctor negligence case. You will have a much better chance of successfully winning your case if you do.


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