The idea that you were hurt because of the actions or failures of a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional can be disconcerting, and you'll likely want to look into potential legal ways to be compensated. Medical malpractice law is considered a subset of personal injury practice, and such cases are generally handled by lawyers who specialize in the field. The vast majority of organizations and individuals in the medical industry carry some type of insurance. In order to move a claim forward, you'll need to engage in a specific process.
Establishing Your Right to Seek a Claim
Before you can even submit an outright claim, there is the question of whether you can pursue one. Many HMOs, for example, include binding arbitration clauses in their agreements, meaning your case is expected to be reviewed by a third party. If you're subject to arbitration, that may complicate things for the medical malpractice attorney handling your case.
Once you've determined that you may pursue a claim, you'll need to give the medical organization, any involved parties, and their insurers formal notice of your intent to seek compensation. They will be obligated to produce all documentation from your medical care, and your lawyer can then sort through the details to show whether an act of malpractice might have been committed.
What is Malpractice?
As with all other fields of injury law, medical malpractice is the product of negligent or malicious actions. This means that someone either willfully did something they knew was wrong or that they failed to do something that would be expected of any medical professional in the same position. For example, if a doctor failed to ask about allergies that a patient has before prescribing a medication that might adversely interact with it, that would be considered negligent.
How the Process Works
The first thing a medical malpractice attorney will do in a case is to gather as much information and testimony as possible. Your lawyer will then tell an adjuster about the nature of your claim and ask that compensation be provided.
If the adjuster believes the claim has some merit, an offer will be made. Your attorney will present the offer to you with an explanation of whether they feel it is justifiable or needs to be negotiated. If an offer isn't made, you will then need to discuss the possibility of taking further legal action, such as suing.
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