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What Is the First Step in Pursuing a Medical Malpractice Claim?

Medical malpractice claims involve situations in which medical professionals, such as doctors, failed to act according to the general standard of care when providing medical care or treatment, thereby injuring a patient. If you were the victim of medical negligence, your first priority is to ensure your health and wellbeing. Then, you need to consider how you will recover the damages you need and deserve. 

A medical malpractice lawsuit can compensate you for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses you incur as a result of your care provider’s negligence.

Below are the typical steps involved in a medical malpractice lawsuit. The first step is to hire a Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer to handle your case so you can focus on healing.

Step 1: Find a Reputable Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If you’ve suffered harm at the hands of a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional, your choice of medical malpractice lawyer will be one of the most important decisions you make. Medical malpractice claims are extremely complex and require the knowledge, skill, and resources of an attorney with extensive experience in these difficult cases.

The accomplished medical malpractice lawyers at The Bishop Law Group have substantial experience in cases involving medical negligence. We understand the challenges faced by victims of medical mistakes and we fight diligently for the full and fair compensation to which our clients are entitled under the law.

Step 2: Investigation

Once you’ve hired a qualified attorney, one of the first things your lawyer will do is conduct a thorough investigation of your case. When investigating the facts surrounding your injury, your lawyer will examine and preserve pertinent evidence such as medical records, gather witness testimony, and find medical experts to support your claim.

Proving medical malpractice is a complicated process that requires hard work, meticulous preparation, and a thorough investigation. A seasoned lawyer will know exactly what to look for when gathering evidence to build the foundation of your case. 

Step 3: Hire a Medical Expert

Finding a medical expert to testify on your behalf is an essential step in virtually every medical malpractice lawsuit. The facts in med mal cases are too complicated for those without medical backgrounds to determine if a medical error led to an individual’s injury. In Maryland, plaintiffs must produce a certificate of merit by a medical doctor that a breach of the standard of care by the negligent medical professional caused the injury.

In most cases, medical experts must be board-certified in the area of medicine that is relevant in the medical malpractice claim. In Maryland, an expert who provides a certificate of merit must have:
 

  • Clinical experience
  • Given a consultation related to clinical practice
  • Taught medicine in the negligent doctor’s specialty or in a related healthcare field within 5 years of the alleged medical error that caused the injury

Step 4: Negotiation

Insurance companies are in the business of making profits, not paying out claims. As a result, insurers and their attorneys will do everything possible to minimize the value of your claim or deny it altogether. 

When facing high medical bills and time away from work, in addition to life’s many ongoing economic obligations such as housing, utilities, and other daily expenses, many injury victims are fearful of what the future may hold. Insurance adjusters notoriously draw out negotiations because they know injury victims face a multitude of expenses and may be desperate to settle for any amount in an effort to secure some financial relief. 

An experienced medical malpractice lawyer understands the tactics used by insurers to deny and devalue legitimate claims. Your attorney will fight for the full value of your claim and will not be intimidated by large insurance companies or their legal teams.

Step 5: File a Lawsuit

Medical malpractice lawsuits must be filed within a certain timeframe, known as the statute of limitations. In Maryland, the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice claim is between three and five years. This means that your personal injury lawsuit must be filed within five years of when the injury occurred or three years of the date that the injury was discovered, whichever happens first. 

There are some exceptions to this rule. For example, the statute of limitations for children does not start until the child reaches 18 years of age, regardless of the child’s age when the injury occurred.

Step 6: Discovery

Once your med mal lawsuit is filed, you will have the opportunity to obtain evidence through the discovery process. During this process, each side is allowed to ask the other to give depositions, provide records, and answer questions. 

The discovery process can provide important information that strengthens your case, demonstrates the other party’s negligence, and empowers you to pursue the maximum value of your physical, emotional, and financial losses.

Step 7: Mediation and Negotiation

Once you have filed a medical malpractice lawsuit, it is not inevitable that your case will go to court. An experienced trial attorney can continue to negotiate on your behalf until the moment a verdict is determined by the judge or jury. In fact, most personal injury claims, including medical malpractice lawsuits, settle before trial.

Step 8: Take Your Case to Court If Necessary

If your attorney cannot reach an agreement with the insurance company, it may be in your best interests to take your case to trial. At this point, your lawyer will have investigated the facts surrounding your injury, hired medical experts to testify on your behalf, and built a strong and compelling case. 

Once both sides have presented evidence and closed their cases, a judge or jury will deliberate and decide the outcome of your lawsuit.

Schedule a Free Consultation with a Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If you were injured because of a medical error, you deserve justice. The accomplished medical malpractice lawyers at The Bishop Law Group have the knowledge and skill necessary to handle these complex cases and fight for the full value of your damages.

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Contact The Bishop Law Group today online or at (410) 390-3101 for a free case evaluation. Our firm proudly serves Baltimore, Ocean City, and other Maryland areas.