4 Steps To Building A Medical Malpractice Case
Whether you're sick or just seeing your doctor for a routine physical, most people place their trust in the hands of their physician. And most rely on their physicians to help treat their ailments. But when your doctor makes a mistake that leaves you with injuries, you know that something should be done. If you're thinking of filing a lawsuit, you need to know if you have a case and what to expect. Here are four steps to building your medical malpractice case.
Know the Types of Medical Malpractice
The first step in determining if you have a case for medical malpractice is understanding what types of malpractice exist in Canada. It's important to note that you can't file a lawsuit against your doctor simply because your medication or treatment failed to work. Your circumstances need to meet specific criteria that must fall under one of three types of medical malpractice:
- Medical negligence. This occurs when a doctor or staff made a mistake, provided poor care, or completely misdiagnosed you altogether. There are other situations that fall under medical negligence such as failing to communicate with the patient or other physicians, neglecting to report abuse, failing to protect or warn third parties, not attending to a patient, and making certain mistakes during a consultation or a referral.
- Refusal to provide care. If your doctor turned you away and neglected to treat you based on gender, religious preferences, lifestyle, or other discriminatory factors, then you might have a case. The only time a doctor can refuse to treat a patient is if they don't have the tools or training to treat your symptoms.
- Failure to obtain consent. If you're treated without having the opportunity to give your consent, or you're not provided with enough information to make an informed decision, you might have a malpractice case.
Research Previous Malpractice Cases
Before beginning the process of filing a suit, your attorney will probably want to know about other malpractice cases and what their outcomes were. This is known as "case law," and positive outcomes can be used to support your claim. Additionally, your attorney will look for cases that are similar to yours in order to build your case.
For example, Canada's Supreme Court placed a cap on how much can be awarded in the amount of $100,000. However, in one particular case in which staff negligence with a newborn led to a brain injury and disabilities, the parents were awarded $5.2 million. This is not the norm, but there were other factors involved like repeated denial on the part of the hospital and the falsification of records.
In another case, a woman from Saskatchewan was awarded $270,000 when her surgeon left medical tape in her bladder, leading to debilitating pain and other health complications.
If your case is similar to either of the above, and you're seeking damages that exceed $100,000, your attorney may use them to support your claim.
Have Plenty of Documentation
As you know, the burden of proof rests on the plaintiff when bringing a lawsuit to court. Your attorney will ask to see medical records, not only from the defendant but also any other medical professionals you've seen as a result of the injuries.
Meanwhile, the defendant doctor will work on proving they were not negligent, and having documents, bills, and medical reports will help to support your claim.
Hire Knowledgeable Representation
You might have several reasons for trying to represent yourself, but having knowledgeable representation is your best bet when it comes to crafting a strong case. You'll want to consult with a personal injury attorney that's familiar with malpractice and can adequately determine if your case does indeed fall under the umbrella of medical malpractice. And fortunately, many lawyers offer free consultations and will only collect fees if your case wins, eliminating financial risk on your part.