Six Important Steps to Asserting a Claim for Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice is defined as the negligent or improper treatment of a patient by a health professional who had a duty of care towards them. At The Henry Law Firm, we understand how grueling and challenging it can be proving you or someone you care about was the unfortunate victim of medical malpractice.
If you or someone you love has been the victim of an avoidable medical error, your next step is to consider asserting a medical malpractice claim. An Ohio lawyer experienced in medical malpractice lawsuits can help you throughout your claims process.
In the United States, 41 percent of people believe that they have been victims of medical malpractice. Statistically, it is estimated that 250,000 deaths occur due to medical errors. However, 78 percent of medical malpractice claims result in no payment to the injured party. This article outlines the six important steps your attorney will follow to begin a successful medical malpractice case.
Ohio’s Statute of Limitations For Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
Before we can look at the critical steps you need to undertake when asserting a medical malpractice claim against a medical provider, it’s crucial that you are aware of Ohio’s statute of limitations. In Ohio, the usual statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits is one year from the date the injury was discovered or should have been discovered in the exercise of reasonable care. Ohio also has a statute of repose, meaning, with rare exceptions, that any claim must be brought within four years of the negligent treatment – regardless of when the harm is discovered.
The general one-year time limit can also be extended by law. If you or your attorney properly send a formal notice to the medical provider that you are considering a medical malpractice lawsuit, the court system will extend your statute of limitation by 180 days from the date your notice is served.
It is always best to assert your claim early to avoid any ambiguity about the statute of limitation. Losing your case is not an option because you waited too long to hire an attorney, or your attorney cannot identify all the potentially negligent actors. We are well-versed in medical malpractice time limitations at The Henry Law Firm and can help ensure you meet the required deadlines.
Six Important Steps You Need to Undertake
Let’s discuss the basic steps you need to take to assert a medical malpractice claim against a medical provider. Below we will take a look at each step in a simplified manner, so they are easy to understand.
1. Discuss Your Claim with an Attorney
Seeking counsel from an experienced attorney is a vital component to a successful case. Medical malpractice cases are technical claims that are usually aggressively defended. If you attempt to prosecute the matter without an experienced attorney, you are almost certain to lose on a technical misstep or because you fail to gather appropriate evidence.
Proving your case will require a substantial understanding of medical malpractice Ohio laws and a familiarity with the specific legal proceedings a medical malpractice plaintiff needs to undergo. Yet, with the right attorney, this complex legal situation can be significantly less stressful.
Medical malpractice cases take time to investigate, obtain records, and locate suitable experts who will assist with the case. You must consult with an attorney far in advance of your statute of limitation.
2. Gather Medical Records
You or your attorney will need to obtain your medical records that document your treatment. Every provider will keep a patient’s medical records for a few years after receiving medical treatment. If you request your medical records or your attorney asks for them, the provider must give you them.
Requesting records becomes complicated when someone has passed away as a result of malpractice. In that situation, you will need to open a probate estate to have the legal authority to request records. The process takes time, which is another reason why you cannot delay seeking legal counsel.
3. Determine if your Medical Providers are At Fault
Contrary to popular belief, medical negligence at a hospital doesn’t always mean that a hospital can be held liable for your injuries. For example, if the standard of care you received was sub-par and caused injuries, you need to establish whether the hospital or the doctor was at fault. If it was because of the actions of a single doctor and the doctor was an independent contractor, you will need to assert a claim against the doctor and not the hospital.
At our law firm, we can help you determine if you need to pursue a claim against an individual doctor, hospital, or both.
The liability determination is made after a thorough review of your records and, most likely, consultation with an expert. Before the case advances, you must convince your attorney that they can prove your medical provider(s) was negligent and that this negligence caused you damages.
4. Determine Your Possible Damages
You will need to determine the possible damages you are entitled to and the reasonable value a jury might award your case. Your damages must also be calculated in the context of Ohio’s restrictive damage caps – that work to limit or reduce specific damage awards. Your attorney will consider your past medical treatment, future medical treatment you will require, any wages you have lost, and your pain and suffering in helping you understand the value of your claim.
5. Obtain an Affidavit of Merit
Once you have obtained a favorable liability determination and understand your damages, you will need to get an affidavit of merit to pursue a lawsuit.
An affidavit of merit is made by a doctor or other licensed healthcare professional. This medical professional will need to, under oath, declare that they have reviewed your medical records and are familiar with the medical standard of care that you received. They will also need to state that they believe the medical professional providing care did not deliver the standard of care and that you were injured because of this.
If you don’t obtain this affidavit at the time (or shortly after) filing a medical malpractice complaint, your case is subject to dismissal.
6. Draft And File a Complaint
Your attorney will draft and file your lawsuit (called a “complaint”) in the appropriate jurisdiction. After your lawsuit gets served, the medical providers will have 28 days to file an Answer to the Complaint, where they will dispute your allegations. After filing both the Complaint and Answer, discovery will begin, and your case will be on its way to trial. Most cases are resolved before trial. However, your attorney should pursue your case with an eye towards trial from day one.
Contact an Ohio Attorney to File Your Medical Malpractice Claim
As you now know, there are many steps involved in asserting a medical malpractice claim against a medical provider. You should consider hiring a qualified Ohio attorney who has the relevant experience needed to handle your case.
The Henry Law Firm lawyers have the necessary skills and knowledge needed to investigate your medical malpractice case. We will fight to ensure that the negligent healthcare providers responsible for your injuries are held accountable. To schedule an obligation-free consultation, contact our Ohio firm today.