A spinal cord injury is a dangerous and permanently altering condition that can impair your capacity for normal movement, sensation, and function. It may significantly affect your financial, emotional, and physical well-being. A spinal cord injury can result from a number of things, including accidents, falls, assaults, or sports-related activities. Medical malpractice arises when a healthcare provider fails to offer the level of care that a reasonable and competent professional would have provided in the same situation and harms a patient resulting in a possible spinal cord injury.
You may be entitled to financial compensation for your medical costs, lost wages, pain, and suffering, as well as additional damages if you or a loved one has experienced a spinal cord injury because of medical negligence. Filing a medical malpractice claim can be a difficult and complicated process that calls for legal knowledge and support. Below we break down some actions you ought to take if you intend to file a spinal cord injury medical malpractice claim.
Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney
You’ll want to consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can help to evaluate your case and advise you on your legal options. Medical malpractice cases are subject to different laws and procedures depending on the state where the malpractice occurred. An attorney can help you understand the statute of limitations, the standard of care, the burden of proof, the damages available, and the potential defenses that may apply to your case.
Your medical records, expert testimony, witness testimonies, and other documents that can support your claim can all be collected and stored by a medical malpractice lawyer to support your case. A lawyer can also represent you in court if necessary and handle all correspondence and negotiations with the insurance companies and healthcare providers involved in your case.
Obtain Your Medical Records
To demonstrate that you incurred harm as a result of medical misconduct, your medical records are essential. Any healthcare professional who treated you or was otherwise engaged in your treatment is required to give you copies of your medical records upon request. As soon as you suspect that you have been harmed by malpractice, you should get a copy of your records as they can contain crucial details regarding your diagnosis, treatment, prognosis, and consequences.
Carefully review your records and look for any errors, omissions, inconsistencies, or contradictions that may indicate malpractice. You might discover, for instance, that your records do not accurately reflect your symptoms, complaints, or requests; are full of errors or misinformation; that they omit or change significant information; or that they conflict with other pieces of evidence or each other.
Determine If Your Health Care Provider Was Negligent
You must be able to prove that your healthcare provider went beyond the level of care that an experienced professional would have given in the same situation. You must therefore demonstrate how your provider’s actions or inactions differed from the accepted standards and procedures in their area of specialization.
To do this you will need to obtain an opinion from a qualified medical expert who can testify about the standard of care and how your provider violated it. The expert must be someone who has the same or similar credentials, training, experience, and specialty as your provider. The expert must also explain how your provider’s negligence caused or contributed to your spinal cord injury.
Determine Your Damages
You must demonstrate that your spinal cord injury caused you harm in order to justify medical malpractice. Damages are the costs or injuries you have incurred or may experience as a result of the injury. Economic or non-economic damage is also possible.
Economic damages are those that have a monetary value, such as medical expenses, missed wages, additional medical treatment in the future, house modifications, assistive technology, and so forth. Non-economic damages include things like pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of quality of life, loss of consortium (companionship), and other things that are difficult to quantify financially.
To determine your damages, you will need to provide evidence such as bills, receipts, pay stubs, tax returns, medical reports, expert opinions, testimony from yourself and others who know you, and so on. You will also need to consider how your spinal cord injury will affect your future quality of life and earning capacity.
File Your Claim
Once you have gathered all the necessary evidence and determined your damages, you are now ready to file your claim. Depending on the state where the malpractice occurred, you may need to follow certain procedures before filing a lawsuit in court. Some states require you to file a notice of intent to sue, a certificate of merit, or a medical review panel. These are steps that are designed to screen out frivolous or meritless claims and to encourage settlement.
Your attorney can help you comply with these requirements and file your claim within the statute of limitations, which is the time limit for bringing legal action. The statute of limitations varies by state, but it is usually between one and three years from the date of the injury or the discovery of the injury. If you miss the deadline, you could potentially miss out on your right to sue.
Negotiate a Settlement or Go to Trial
Following the filing of your claim, the defendant (the healthcare practitioner or their insurance provider) may address your accusations and might even make a settlement offer. Without going to trial, the lawsuit is resolved by a settlement. A settlement can secure your success while saving you stress, time, and money. A settlement could, however, also mean that you will be given less money than you are entitled to or that you will have to give up some of your rights.
Your attorney can help you evaluate the settlement offer and negotiate for a fair and reasonable amount. They can also advise you on whether to accept or reject the offer or to make a counteroffer. If you and the defendant cannot reach a settlement, your case will proceed to trial.
A trial is a formal and open procedure where the judge or jury, who will ultimately decide the case’s outcome, hears the evidence and arguments from all sides. A trial can be risky since the outcome could be negative to you or provide you with less than what you demanded initially.
A trial can be time-consuming, expensive, and stressful. However, a trial can also provide you with an opportunity to tell your story, seek justice, and hold the defendant accountable. Your attorney can better help to prepare for trial and present your case in the best possible light. Your attorney can also help you appeal the verdict if you are dissatisfied with the result.
Filing a medical malpractice claim for a spinal cord injury can be an intimidating and intricate process, but it can also be rewarding and empowering. By following the steps mentioned above, you can increase your chances of obtaining the compensation and justice that you deserve for your injury. You should always consult with a qualified medical malpractice attorney who can guide you through the legal system and protect your rights. A spinal cord injury can change your life in many ways, but it does not have to define you. You can still pursue your goals and dreams with the help of your family and friends.