Attorney Mike Sobieray has been assisting clients with a wide variety of claims for over twenty years. Here, he discusses the basic steps of a medical malpractice case.
When undergoing an important medical procedure, you’re bound to have a lot on your mind. From the risks associated with the procedure to the costs you are undertaking by having it done, the last thing you should be thinking of is whether or not you’re safe in your doctor’s hands. Your doctor owes you a certain standard of care. If they fail to meet that standard, it can cause injuries and emotional distress. Although we all trust medical professionals to help and heal us when we are suffering, unfortunately, they don’t always live up to our expectations.
If you’ve suffered because of a medical error, you have a right to pursue justice through a medical malpractice claim. However, medical malpractice lawsuits are some of the most complex and intimidating to file. You can mitigate these problems by consulting a medical malpractice attorney to assist with your case. While many people know that they should contact an attorney, they may not understand the full benefits of doing so, and what a medical malpractice suit looks like when you have an experienced attorney on your side. Here’s what you can expect at each step of a medical malpractice case.
1. Reach Out to an Attorney
If you believe you have been a victim of medical malpractice, the first thing you need to do is contact a lawyer. A medical malpractice attorney can assess your situation, offer legal advice, and file the necessary paperwork to start the claims process. Although it is always important to speak to an attorney about legal matters you may not understand, with medical malpractice cases in particular, a lawyer will be a great help. It is not easy for you to gather evidence, find witnesses, and file claims all by yourself. A seasoned medical malpractice attorney can guide you through this process and ease your responsibility in an already trying time.
2. Collect Medical Records
Your medical records are the most important evidence in your case. Reach out to the doctor’s office, hospital, or treatment center where you were treated. Request records of your tests and consultations and ask for the names of any medical practitioners involved with the incident. You will also need to have evidence of the bills and expenses associated with your treatment. Once you have all of these documents, your attorney can start to build your case.
3. Have Your Records Reviewed by Medical Professionals
Once they have gathered all of the necessary evidence, your attorney will send information about your treatment and injury to unbiased medical practitioners and discuss your situation with them. These professionals will review your medical records to determine if there’s evidence of malpractice. Should they agree that there is, you and your attorney will be able to proceed with your claim.
4. File a Claim with the Indiana Department of Insurance
In Indiana, you must file a complaint with the Department of Insurance if you intend to pursue a medical malpractice suit. INDOI collects records of all medical malpractice cases in the state, and they will want copies of your complaint as well as information about the defendants (usually the doctor or doctors who treated you. Once your attorney files your case, INDOI will send a notification to both the defendants and their insurers that you are bringing a lawsuit.
5. Have Your Case Examined by a Medical Review Panel
A certain number of days after you’ve filed your claim, you can request the formation of a medical review panel. Medical malpractice review panels will only form if the plaintiff is suing for over $15,000; if you are suing for less than that, then you don’t need to worry about this step. The panel will consist of one lawyer and three medical practitioners whose goal is to examine the evidence and determine if you have grounds for legal action.
Your lawyer will submit the evidence they have collected to this panel for review. Both your attorney and the defendant’s attorney may ask the panel questions. The panel will deliberate and come to a consensus, then provide you with a report within 180 days.
6. File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit with the Indiana State Court
If the medical review panel determines that no malpractice was present, your case ends. If they do find evidence of malpractice, however, you can then file a lawsuit. It is the last step in the process after you have collected information about your case and vetted its legal relevance.
The defendant’s insurance company will likely contact you to negotiate a settlement. Their initial offer may be low, but your attorney can work with them to help reach a settlement that fully compensates you for your damages.
Sometimes the insurance company won’t offer a fair settlement, or the defendant may wish to contest your claim. In situations like these, your case will go to court. Your attorney can gather additional evidence to present to the judge and jury, and the defendant can respond. The jury will deliberate and determine if they think the defendant’s at fault. If so, then the judge may award damages accordingly.
7. Report to the Insurance Commissioner
Once you reach a settlement, you’ll need to file a report with the Insurance Commissioner. This report contains information such as:
- Any damages
- Attorney fees
- The settlement amount
Request Help from the Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Stewart & Stewart in Indiana
Medical malpractice lawsuits are stressful. With help from a qualified attorney, however, you can make them easier to navigate.
At Stewart & Stewart, we can guide you through your lawsuit. We are compassionate, knowledgeable, and prepared to assist you from beginning to end. For your free consultation with a medical malpractice attorney from our firm, call (800) 33-33-LAW or fill out the contact form.