Your chances of winning a medical malpractice suit depend on the evidence in your case and the skill of your attorney. A two-decade analysis of data on outcomes of medical malpractice claims found that physicians won around 50% of cases with compelling proof of medical malpractice. The study was first published in the Clinical Orthopedics and Related Research journal.
This finding implies that you have a 50% chance of winning a medical malpractice claim, even when you have a strong case. That’s why it pays to have a medical malpractice lawyer in your corner immediately after you suspect you are a medical malpractice victim. A lawyer conversant with medical malpractice claims, demonstrating negligence, and navigating common obstacles in these cases can increase your odds of getting a favorable verdict.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice refers to any negligent act or omission by a doctor, health facility, or any other medical practitioner that results in injury or harm to a patient. Your doctor may, for instance, wrongly diagnose or treat your ailment, causing you more bodily injuries or harm. Your doctor may also fail to conduct diligent follow-up care for your illness. Those are circumstances that qualify as medical malpractice. These instances leave victims facing significant health, financial, and psychological consequences.
Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim
A successful medical malpractice claim must satisfy four essential elements. These elements include:
You must demonstrate that a relationship existed between you and your treating physician (or other healthcare providers) for your medical malpractice claim to be valid. You must show that you hired a healthcare worker who, in turn, accepted to treat you.
The Physician Was Negligent
Your physician must have acted negligently at any phase of your treatment for you to have a valid medical malpractice claim. You must show that a reasonably competent and careful physician would have prevented your injuries under similar or the same conditions. You will need an expert witness, usually a medical practitioner, to explain the accepted medical standard of care and demonstrate how your physician violated that standard.
Your Physician’s Negligence Caused You to Become Injured
This element is relatively hard to prove. Most medical malpractice victims are already ill when visiting a medical provider. This fact may bring confusion as to what degree a physician’s action or inaction caused an actual injury or harm to the patient.
You must demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that your injury stemmed from your physician’s violation of the medical standard of care. A medical malpractice lawyer can gather enough evidence, including medical expert testimony, to help you meet this burden of proof.
You Suffered Damages Because of the Injury
Proving your medical provider violated the accepted medical standard of care is key. You must, however, demonstrate that you suffered injuries or harm to reach the threshold of filing a medical malpractice claim. Moving forward with a medical malpractice lawsuit will be a wise decision if the damages or losses arising from your injuries are significant.
The cost of litigation may sometimes be higher than the possible award or settlement if the injuries sustained are minor. In such a case, your lawyer may recommend other recovery measures, such as an out-of-court settlement.
A medical-malpractice-related injury may cause the following damages:
- Increased medical bills
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Lost wages and loss of earning potential.
Common Obstacles in Medical Malpractice Claims
Getting reasonable compensation for a medical malpractice claim is not an easy task. You must navigate certain obstacles to improve your chances of winning a medical malpractice suit. Your lawyer can help you figure out how to file a medical malpractice claim. He or she will also help you navigate the common obstacles in a medical malpractice claim. These obstacles include:
Filing on Time
The first hurdle is ensuring you file your medical malpractice claim on time. Each state has a specific window of time in which victims must initiate medical malpractice claims. In Illinois, for instance, you generally have two years from when you recognized or should have reasonably recognized that you got injured by medical negligence to initiate a medical malpractice suit. Exceptions exist in cases involving injured minors and other situations, however.
Illinois also has a statute of repose. Under this law, you cannot file a lawsuit if you discover you are a medical malpractice victim more than four years after the medical incident that caused your injury. Failing to adhere to your state filing deadline will most likely cause the dismissal of your case. A knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer knows the relevant laws that apply to your case and will ensure you are compliant.
Proving Your Case
Gathering sufficient evidence is the next obstacle claimants face. Your lawyer will assemble and organize all relevant evidence that shows your physician’s negligence caused your injuries. Outright medical malpractice, such as a surgeon leaving a surgical instrument inside your body, is easy to prove. Wrongful diagnosis, however, can sometimes be hard to prove as some diseases can present different symptoms. These symptoms may then be consistent with a different disease, leading to a wrong diagnosis. Other common and deadly types of medical malpractice that warrant filing a claim include childbirth injuries and errors in anesthesia.
Your lawyer will walk with you every step, including building a strong case, taking it to trial, and skillfully litigating before the jury or judge. The lawyer will advise you on the steps to take and pitfalls to avoid to stand a better chance of obtaining maximum compensation.
Increasing Your Chances of Winning Your Claim
You must follow every step of the litigation process to increase your chances of winning a medical malpractice suit. The first step is to send a detailed and compelling demand letter to the at-fault medical provider’s insurer.
The demand letter should describe injuries suffered and why the insured medical provider was liable. The letter should also state any evidence you have to support your claim and your settlement demand amount. A lawyer can help you draft a demand letter that will compel the insurer to take your case seriously.
A lawyer with adequate financial resources and support staff can build a strong case for trial if negotiations are unsuccessful. The lawyer can hire a medical expert witness to discuss the acceptable standard of care in the incident in question. The expert witness will then explain how the medical provider’s failure to meet that standard caused your injury.
Chicago personal injury and workers’ compensation attorney Howard Ankin has a passion for justice and a relentless commitment to defending injured victims throughout the Chicagoland area. With decades of experience achieving justice on behalf of the people of Chicago, Howard has earned a reputation as a proven leader in and out of the courtroom. Respected by peers and clients alike, Howard’s multifaceted approach to the law and empathetic nature have secured him a spot as an influential figure in the Illinois legal system.