How to Start a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Gavel, notebook and stethoscope on the white table.

If you want to start a medical malpractice lawsuit, you’ll need to complete various tasks such as notifying healthcare providers, collecting evidence, and proving that medical malpractice took place. The process for how to start a medical malpractice lawsuit is often complex and requires ample knowledge and experience to navigate it efficiently.

When considering filing a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit, the following are some of the many items to consider.

First Steps to Start a Medical Malpractice Claim

If you believe you have a legitimate medical malpractice case, there are some key steps you should take to begin a medical malpractice claim before considering a lawsuit. The following is the process to expect when filing a claim against liable medical providers.

Notify Your Care Provider

Before you prepare and file a medical malpractice lawsuit or claim, you must notify the medical professional you believe has engaged in malpractice. Doing so will help confirm whether malpractice truly occurred, as the medical professional can discuss the matter in depth. He or she may be able to explain what happened and potentially discuss a way to reverse the situation.

However, you might determine that malpractice did occur, in which case you may proceed with a claim or suit.

Contact the Licensing Board

If you confirm that malpractice has likely taken place, your next step would entail getting in touch with the licensing board responsible for issuing your medical provider’s license. You may then receive advice on the steps to proceed, and the licensing board may opt to punish the medical provider in some form, which could involve revocation of the professional’s license if warranted.

Obtain a Certificate of Merit to Confirm You Have a Valid Case

In some states, you must get a certificate or affidavit of merit in a medical malpractice case before you can file. When seeking this affidavit, you must get in touch with an expert in the same field as the negligent medical provider. This expert may then assess your case and the specific circumstances involved to figure out whether negligence took place and caused harm to you.

It’s important to understand that this process can be costly, as medical experts may charge a fee to review your case and provide a certificate of merit.

Attempt to Settle During the Claims Process

For many medical malpractice victims, their first instinct might be to file a lawsuit and take the negligent care provider to court. However, the trial process is often complex, expensive, and difficult to navigate successfully. Most of these cases wind up settling out of court when negotiating with insurance companies. On the other hand, in rare instances, it may be worth taking the case to trial.

Speak With an Attorney

Another important step to take before filing a claim or suit is to reach out to a medical malpractice lawyer. An attorney in this practice area will know how to proceed with these types of cases and determine if you have a legitimate medical malpractice case. He or she will also be able to determine what your case is worth based on the damages involved and negotiate with liable parties and their insurers.

Take the time to interview a medical malpractice attorney to decide whether he or she is the right fit for you. You can ask various questions and find out what options are available to you in terms of filing a claim or lawsuit against a negligent care provider. If an attorney decides to handle your case, you’ll increase your chances of successfully recovering total compensation.

What Is Required to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

In the event of medical malpractice, there are multiple items you’ll need to build a successful case against negligent medical professionals.

Some of the specific materials you’ll require include:

Proof of Negligence and Damages

Similar to other types of negligence cases, you must prove that the care provider was negligent and caused harm to you or a loved one. Specifically, you will need to show that:

  • The care provider owed a duty of care
  • The care provider breached that duty of care
  • This breach of duty caused harm
  • That harm resulted in specific damages, including medical bills, pain and suffering, and other losses

To prove these items, you’ll need plenty of evidence to support your case. Evidence could include everything from medical records and doctors’ notes to witness testimony from others.

The Affidavit of Merit

As mentioned, you’ll also require an affidavit or certificate of merit that clearly shows how negligence occurred. This affidavit could go into detail regarding the breach of duty of care and how it resulted in various damages, or it could simply indicate that the case is legitimate.

If you need help proving a standard of care and negligence along with obtaining an affidavit of merit, a medical malpractice lawyer may be able to assist you.

How Long Do You Have to Start a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

You may wonder how long you have to sue for medical malpractice before filing. Like other types of negligence cases, medical malpractice suits have a statute of limitations that gives people a limited amount of time to file a case before they’re unable to recover compensation.

The statute of limitations varies depending on the state where the malpractice occurred, but this period could range from two to four years after the initial incident in most states. To ensure you’re able to recover compensation, it’s best to file as soon as possible following a medical malpractice incident. Filing quickly is particularly crucial if your medical bills and other expenses quickly accrue following the incident, seeing as the sooner you file, the sooner you can be on your way to compensation that covers all related damages.

Knowing how to start a medical malpractice lawsuit and taking the right steps will help increase your chances of success, from getting an affidavit of merit to beginning negotiations with insurers or taking your case to court.


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