Medical Malpractice Claim FAQ

What is a medical malpractice claim? 

A medical malpractice claim can be filed either by the patient, the loved ones of a patient or the lawyer handling the claim. It is filed against the physician or other medical professionals whenever the subject person lacked the standard of care expected of the profession.

Does someone who is not satisfied with the results of his or her surgery have a viable medical malpractice claim?                                                                      

There really are no guarantees of medical results, and unexpected or unsuccessful results do not necessarily mean negligence occurred. It is not always easy to win a medical malpractice claim. The burden is on the patient to prove that the injury suffered was caused by the negligence of the professional.

What should I do if I think I have a medical malpractice claim? 

As soon as possible, you should consult your lawyer about the medical malpractice claim. Tell the attorney exactly what happened, from your first visit to the doctor or other health care provider, through your last contact with him or her. If it will be possible, you can bring the documents to the lawyer so he can have an initial evaluation of your case. There are time limits governing how long someone may wait to bring a medical malpractice claim, so time is of the essence.

What is “informed consent”? 

One important concept in medical malpractice and also an important defense would be the concept of “informed consent.” Across different states, there will be various standards on how to implement this rule. Despite the presence of differences, there will also be similarities on the basic information that should always be included as part of the informed consent.

Do I have a case against a doctor who prescribed me a drug for treatment, but failed to tell me it was part of an experimental program? 

If you will be intaking some drug and that drug will be part of a study, your doctor has the duty to inform you that you are being part of the study and that you may refused to be part of it. You may have grounds for an action against your doctor based on his/her failure to obtain your “informed consent” relative to this treatment.

If the consent form I signed prior to a procedure is considered valid, can I recover any damages in a medical malpractice claim against my doctor? 

Even if you have signed a form for giving of your consent, it does not mean that you forgo your capability to claim and sue the doctor for his medical malpractice. You still have the right to do so.  If you can establish that your doctor deviated from the applicable standard of care in performing the procedure, and you were injured as a result, you may still recover against him/her. Even if you have signed an agreement which signifies your consent, you can still go against the medical professional if his actions went beyond what you consented for.

How does a jury determine if a doctor’s actions were negligent? 

A jury will consider the testimony of experts, usually other doctors, who will testify whether they believe your physician’s actions followed standard medical practices, or fell below the accepted standard of care.

What is a “Certificate of Merit?” 

One obstacle plaintiffs in many states may have to overcome before they can even file a medical malpractice claim against a health care professional is the requirement that they file what is commonly known as a “certificate of merit.” The main purpose of the certificate of merit is to show that the actions by the doctor is within his competence to do and that his actions were still within the reasonable standard being followed by the medical profession. The plaintiff’s attorney then files the certificate of merit, which confirms that the attorney has consulted with a medical expert and that the plaintiff’s action has merit.

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