Your lawyer will decide whether or not to pursue your case against the hospital. If the lawyer takes the case, he will then need to retain an expert medical doctor to submit an affidavit detailing how the treatment was below the standard of care, and how that departure from the standard of care led to an injury. The case will then go through the pre suit process, which is a 90 day period during which the hospital investigates the claim. At the conclusion of the presuit period the hospital can deny the claim, or accept responsibility. Often times the parties will agree to mediate the case during the presuit period, and this often results in a settlement. If the case does not settle during presuit, the lawyer will then file a complaint of medical negligence against the hospital. This is where the work really begins.
If a doctor fails to make an accurate and timely diagnosis of a harmful medical condition, patients may pursue a legal remedy by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. One key question in these kinds of cases is whether the doctor breached the applicable "medical standard of care" under the circumstances. In other words, would a similarly-trained doctor in the same medical community have spotted the health problem (or identified it within a shorter period of time)? In the sections that follow, we’ll discuss some common misdiagnosis scenarios, and illustrate how a medical malpractice case might proceed.
This is really so painful to re-live. All of the attorneys I discussed my case with said that what was done to me was clearly negligence and that the case had merit indeed. However, the potential award would have fallen below the $250,000 mark, and to fight it would have been a gamble because jurors – for whatever reason – see physicians in a “can do no wrong” light and may decide in favor of the negligent doctor. I wanted to fight it out of principle more than anything else.
But it doesn’t get much more complex than a medical malpractice case. You’ll need to prove complicated legal and medical issues like the applicable medical standard of care that the doctor should have complied with in your case, and you’ll need to be prepared to refute the other side when they come to the table with their own medical evidence. What’s more, many states require medical malpractice plaintiffs to jump through certain procedural hoops at various points in the case.
More and more people in South Africa are taking their doctors and other healthcare professionals to court for medical malpractice – so much so that the increase in litigation is contributing to our high medical inflation. But you can’t take such action lightly: the legal process is fraught with pitfalls and can be very drawn out, and the costs can be high. You need to be sure of your case, and of all the hoops you’ll have to jump through, before pursuing a claim.
However, our legal system is set up in such a way where monetary damages is not only a way to compensate persons for lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering; it is also there as a way to hold doctors accountable for their actions. Without the threat of monetary sanctions and lawsuits, doctors would lose some motivation for conducting their professional lives in a careful and cautious manner. Furthermore, if you doctor did negligently injure you or a loved one, bringing suit against him may serve as a wakeup call and could possibly prevent him from injuring someone else in the future.
2. Lawyer - choose a lawyer you feel happy and comfortable with. Of equal importance to this, ensure the lawyer you choose is specialised in medical negligence law. 1stClaims will be able to help you find the perfect lawyer for you, so get in touch with us today. They will be able to give to the legal support you need. You can do this on behalf of a family member if they are unable to do this on their own.
Expert witnesses, copies of medical records, deposition and witness fees, medical exams -- all of these things cost money. And if you lose your case, you could very well be on the hook for thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in expenses - depending on your legal fee agreement. Is your case important enough to you that you feel the potential financial benefit outweighs the risk?