Healthcare providers sometimes fail. Sometimes they have a bad day. Sometimes they just make a mistake. Other times, their workplace—a hospital, group, or clinic—has systemic problems that set them up to fail. Some workplaces look the other way, enabling mistakes. And then there are the bad apples—providers who are just incompetent, careless, and lazy. If you or a loved one has been harmed by substandard care, you may want to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. You may find yourself asking, how to start a medical malpractice case.
Here are the basic steps for starting your case.
- Find a qualified attorney. You should look for two key qualifications: (a) a history of success in medical malpractice cases and (b) experience taking cases all the way to trial. The greater the harm, the more providers, their employers, and their insurers will deny fault. That’s when you most need qualified, experienced counsel.
- Obtain and review medical records. Once the attorneys have evaluated your case, they should help you obtain certified medical records from the healthcare organization where the malpractice occurred. Qualified attorneys and their staff will then review the medical records closely, often in consultation with experts, to identify the precise actions and inactions that constitute medical malpractice.
- Obtain an expert affidavit. Once you and your attorneys have identified what went wrong, the case should be evaluated by qualified healthcare professionals (experts) who are willing to testify on your behalf. Some states, including Georgia, will reject the lawsuit if it is not supported by an expert’s sworn affidavit. A well-written affidavit will identify the medical malpractice clearly and precisely, putting the defendants on high alert that your case is serious and demands their attention. Here is an example, beginning on page 101.
- File the complaint. A complaint is a document that launches the lawsuit. It should tell your story clearly and thoroughly, based on the medical records and other evidence. A complaint should also spell out each instance of alleged malpractice as a “claim” or a “cause of action.” That way, the court and defendants will know that you’ve done your homework, that you are backed by qualified attorneys and experts, and that your case has merit. Here is an example.
Keep in mind that every state has a deadline for filing a complaint. For example, with narrow exceptions, Georgia requires filing within two years after the patient was harmed by the alleged malpractice. So, if you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, get your case started without delay. Once you know how to start a medical malpractice case, your legal team will work with you to get full and fair compensation.
The Bell Law Firm represents clients who have suffered death or catastrophic injury in medical malpractice and other personal injury cases.