How to File a Medical Negligence Claim

It’s infuriating when you contract a service but don’t get what you pay for. You might complain to the company in question. But what about medical services? Can you file a complaint against your doctor for “bad service”? In some cases, you can. It’s called a medical negligence claim.

Lawyer jots down important notes for negligence claim.

What is Medical Negligence?

Who decides what “bad service” is when it comes to healthcare providers? Your doctors need to meet the legal definition of medical negligence if you wish to sue.

Medical negligence is when a healthcare professional fails to provide a certain standard of care to a patient. This standard is based on established norms and practices within the medical field.

To assess whether or not a doctor was negligent, their actions are compared to what another skilled practitioner would have done in similar circumstances. Take a situation where a surgeon operates on the wrong body part for example. A competent surgeon would operate on the right body part. This is an obvious breach of the duty of care. 

How Medical Negligence Becomes Malpractice

The terms “medical negligence” and “medical malpractice” are often used interchangeably. But they can have slightly different meanings depending on the jurisdiction. The distinction is often more about the legal context and the application of negligence principles to the field of medicine.

In general, medical negligence becomes medical malpractice when that negligence causes direct harm to a patient. 

The four elements of a medical malpractice claim are:

  • Duty of Care: The healthcare provider must provide a certain standard of care.
  • Breach of Duty: The provider failed to meet the standard of care.
  • Causation: The breach of duty was the direct cause of harm to the patient.
  • Damages: The patient suffered physical, emotional, or financial harm.
A close-up image of a stethoscope.

Filing a Medical Negligence Claim: What to Do First

Suing for medical negligence or malpractice is a complex process. So first of all, you need to find a qualified, experienced medical negligence lawyer. 

A lawyer can help you with the following:

  • Establishing whether or not you have a valid case.
  • Determining who you can sue in your medical negligence claim (nurses, doctors, hospitals, or other medical professionals)
  • Calculating your damages (such as lost wages, medical bills, and other harm you suffered)
  • Obtaining your medical records and evidence. 
  • Consult medical experts to help prove your case.
  • Negotiating a settlement or representing you in court.

How to Sue for Medical Negligence

Suing for medical negligence involves many steps. Note that the specific procedures can vary by jurisdiction. So make sure you consult a legal professional for personalized advice. 

In general, these are the basic steps involved in filing a medical negligence claim:

  1. Initial consultation with an attorney. A lawyer can evaluate the details of your case and help determine whether you have a valid claim.
  2. Review of medical records. The attorney will request and evaluate your medical records. They will look for evidence of medical negligence. They might also consult medical experts to evaluate the standard of care in your situation. 
  3. Provide a notice of intent. In some jurisdictions, you have to send your healthcare provider a heads-up that you’re about to file a medical negligence claim. This gives them the chance to respond or settle the claim.
  4. Filing the lawsuit. If no resolution is reached during the notice period, your lawyer will file your lawsuit. Your healthcare provider will receive legal documents and have a specific time period to respond.
  5. Discovery process. Both parties will exchange information and documents about your case. They may also depose witnesses. This helps each side understand the strengths and weaknesses of their case.
  6. Expert witnesses. Expert testimony is often a key aspect of suing for medical negligence or malpractice. They testify about the standard of care and whether it was breached in your case. 
  7. Negotiation and settlement. Your attorney will negotiate on your behalf. Accepting a settlement might be more beneficial to you than going to trial. Most medical negligence cases settle out of court. 
  8. Trial, Verdict, and Appeals. If a settlement isn’t reached, your case could proceed to trial. Both sides present their evidence, and a judge or jury makes a decision (verdict). After the verdict, both parties can appeal the decision. 
Image featuring Christopher King and Hartley Hampton, esteemed lawyers at Hampton and King Law Firm.

Teaming with an Experienced Law Firm

The medical negligence claim process is often long and complicated. For the best chance possible at obtaining compensation, hire a lawyer who specializes in medical negligence. 

 If you’re worried about how you’ll pay for a lawyer, let us put your fears to rest. Our medical malpractice firm represents clients on a contingency fee basis. This means we don’t get paid unless we win your case. To find out more, schedule a free consultation here.