You tend to hear a lot about medical malpractice on TV shows and in newspapers. However, for most of us, medical negligence is an abstract idea that never seems like it will affect us personally. Though you may be able to get through life with that assumption, the truth is that medical negligence is more of a threat than most people realize.
In a 2013 article in Forbes, writer Demetrius Cheeks cited a Journal of the American Medical Association study to determine approximately how many people are affected by medical malpractice each year. The study’s numbers were sobering to say the least, identifying medical negligence as “the third leading cause of death in the U.S.—right behind heart disease and cancer.” A 2014 study put a number on the annual medical negligence death rate: 440,000 victims per year.
Knowing When to Seek Legal Counsel
As you can see, medical negligence does happen, and unfortunately, it happens relatively often. In addition to the many deaths that occur due to medical negligence each year, survivors face their own burdens, such as long-term healthcare problems due to a healthcare provider’s mistakes. From permanent brain damage to spinal cord injury and paralysis or dangerous infections, the consequences of medical negligence are widespread and often severe.
If you believe that you or a loved one has been the victim of medical negligence at the hands of a healthcare provider, the big question is when you should get in touch with a medical negligence attorney. Medical malpractice lawsuits can get you the financial reward you deserve if you truly have been affected by negligence. However, these cases can also be long, complex, stressful, and expensive, so it’s important to weigh your options considerably before you file suit.
Even if you are worried about a long and costly legal battle, it’s a good idea to speak with an experienced medical negligence lawyer just for informational purposes. An attorney who has represented medical malpractice plaintiffs in court will listen to the specifics of your case, estimate the potential financial costs and reward of the case, and provide an expert opinion on whether or not you should pursue a lawsuit.
Because medical negligence lawsuits cost so much to pursue, most experienced negligence attorneys will only take on the cases with a high-value reward possibility. This practice can seem selfish or unfair, but it is actually good for you to get an objective judgment on whether or not your case has strong financial viability. All consequences of medical negligence are worth discussing with a lawyer. Some will cost more to take to court than you would be likely to get back in any verdict or settlement. Add the risk of losing the case and not seeing any sort of financial reward and you begin to understand why many medical negligence cases never make it to court.
An experienced medical negligence attorney will know where the line lies for case viability and will be able to offer advice on whether or not you should take your fight to court. In other words, consulting a lawyer will either be the first step in your legal battle or it will save you considerable expense and months or years of court battles. In either situation, setting up an appointment with an experienced medical negligence attorney is a smart idea.
A Note about Settlement Offers
In rare cases, your healthcare provider or their insurance company might approach you and offer a medical negligence settlement before you even get a chance to speak with a lawyer. These offers might seem attractive at first, but they are really signs that the other side is squirming. The hospital and/or insurance firm might be low-balling their offer in an attempt to avoid costlier litigation later, or they might not be disclosing the full extent of your injuries or side effects. In any case, it’s a good idea to consult a lawyer before you accept any settlements to see if you might have a shot at a much larger reward through traditional court action.
As you can see, the bottom line is this: if you think you have been affected by medical negligence, sit down with a lawyer to talk about your options. Potentially get a check-up with a different doctor or healthcare provider to make sure you know the full extent of your condition. Both of these courses of action will give you more information and help you make the right decision on whether or not to pursue a malpractice lawsuit.