According to recent statistics, medical errors caused by neglect or malicious conduct are the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. If you believe that you or a loved one was the victim of medical malpractice, then chances are you're interested in filing a lawsuit to recoup the medical expenses involved, along with other damages.
Unfortunately, there are several things that could sideline your medical malpractice claim before it has a chance to start in earnest. Here are a few mistakes you and your medical malpractice attorney should avoid at all costs.
Missing the Statute of Limitations
Waiting too long to present your medical malpractice claim could doom it to failure before it even has a chance to get started. That's because nearly every state has a time limit, or statute of limitation, for bringing various lawsuits. Such time limits usually vary among states throughout the U.S.
If you don't file your medical malpractice claim within the allotted time, then the defendant will be able to file a motion to dismiss based on the expired statute of limitations. At that point, the courts will have no choice but to grant the motion and toss out your claim, thereby ending your right to seek civil remedy.
In most cases, the statute of limitations begins the moment you discover you've been injured. From there, you may have anywhere from a few months to several years to file your medical malpractice claim.
Contacting the Doctor's Insurance Company Directly
There's no reason for you to get in direct contact with your doctor's insurance company. In fact, it may be one of the easiest ways of torpedoing your medical malpractice claim. Most insurance companies are not keen on paying out medical malpractice verdicts, so they may use your own communications against you in various ways. In fact, it's not out of the ordinary for the insurance company to monitor all communications, including phone conversations, in an effort to find anything that could negatively impact your case.
The insurance company may also attempt to have you sign releases that ultimately relieve them and their doctor client of any liability for your injuries and other damages. It's always a good idea to talk to your attorney first, since he or she is better equipped to negotiate with the insurance company.
Failure to File an Affidavit of Merit
Some states may have special requirements that must be fulfilled before you can proceed with your medical malpractice claim. One of these requirements involves the filing of an "affidavit of merit," also known as a "certificate of merit." An affidavit of merit is simply a sworn statement attesting to the validity of the medical malpractice claim.
In order for an affidavit of merit to be valid, it must be signed under oath by a qualified expert in the defendant's medical field who has reviewed your case and agrees that the case has merit. However, the qualified expert does not need to be your testifying expert. In most cases, your medical malpractice lawyer may be the person tasked with signing your affidavit of merit.
Lack of Expert Testimony
In many cases, expert testimony can mean the difference between a successful medical malpractice case and a mediocre case that fizzles out within a short time. Most states require expert testimony on behalf of the plaintiff from someone who is a qualified expert in the doctor's medical field. A medical expert testifying on your behalf must prove that the defendant failed to follow the appropriate standard of care afforded to patients and that such failure resulted in injury.
Without testimony from a knowledgeable person, the judge may decide to reject your medical malpractice claim due to a lack of clear evidence. Prior to the start of your medical malpractice case, your attorney may be able to locate a reliable medical expert for you.
For more information about how to avoid mistakes and successfully file for malpractice, get in contact with a law firm that specializes in medical malpractice suits, like R.J. Marzella & Associates, P.C..Share
19 December 2016
Hello, my name is Matthew. Welcome to my site. I am here to talk to you about accident and personal injury attorneys. When I was involved in a serious accident, I had to recover for months in the hospital. My finances suffered due to mounting medical bills and lost wages. I dealt with considerable pain through every phase of the healing process. I worked with an accident and personal injury attorney to obtain compensation for the repercussions of the accident. I created this site to help others find an attorney to work with so they too could acquire compensation following an accident.