“I want to sue the hospital. But how? And can I win?”
It’s a reasonable ask in many cases. And yes, the answer is yes:
You can sue your hospital.
Naturally, you need a good reason. If you have one, you’ve probably already graduated from “I want to sue the hospital” to “how can I sue the hospital?”
If that’s the case, you’re in the right place.
Because we’re going to cover precisely that.
Let’s start with the three reasons you can sue a hospital:
2. Medical malpractice (A very specific type of negligence.)
3. Wrongful death (If a loved one died because of negligence.)
If your reason falls into one of these categories and you want to sue your hospital, use the steps below to get the ball rolling.
Table of Contents
1 – Check Your Statute Of Limitations
Every state has their own statute of limitations (a specific period of time where you’re able to file a lawsuit). So if you want to sue the hospital, it’s important to check your state’s specific limitations.
Because if you’re suing a hospital, you may have less time than if you were suing an individual. In some states, you only get a year from the day you were injured.
Anyway, here’s how to check. If you’re in Texas, you can give us a call and we’ll give you all the most up-to-date details, and answer the rest of your questions too.
Otherwise, just Google statute of limitations in <insert your state here>.
For you social butterflies who’d rather hop on a call to chat about it, you can call the clerk’s office or your public law library. Once you find out that you’re still able to file a lawsuit, it’s time to don your detective hat.
2 – Find Out Who To Sue. And Why. And…
“I want to sue the hospital” may be a great place to start. But “I want to sue my doctor” might be even better. Which is your best bet? You want answers, and you need them. Especially in this step toward compensation.
Was the injury the result of negligence? Maybe someone wasn’t doing their job, wasn’t truthful about a complication, or maybe the hospital’s equipment was faulty?
Let’s start with the basics: who, what, when, where and why.
How To Sue A Hospital: Who & What.
In this step, start a notebook of “sue the hospital” notes and write down the answers as you learn them. You can refer to these notes when you consult with your attorney, to make sure you don’t miss any details.
Who: Pinpoint who was (and is) responsible. Was it a member of the medical staff? A technician? Keep in mind that (depending on the issue at hand) it could be any of a number of people employed at the hospital. Knowing who did it will help you determine who to sue, whether it’s a doctor, a nurse, someone else or the hospital as a whole.
What: What exactly happened? Did your doctor overlook something on your medical record? Did your surgeon operate on the wrong body part? Write down every detail you can, it’ll help you later.
To support the what, you’ll want to gather all of your information; photos, medical records, incident reports, etc. This will come in handy later. Here’s a medical malpractice documents checklist to help you remember everything.
How To Sue A Hospital: The When, Where & Why.
When: Was it in the morning? Afternoon? Evening? Was there a staffing change? Did it occur right after the doctor came in, or later?
Where: If relevant, where did the accident occur? What floor, room, or part of the hospital?
Why: Did this happen because of negligence? That’s the big why.
To do the heavier research on the most difficult questions above, talk with your lawyer (the next step). Your malpractice attorney and the rest of the staff will help you dig much deeper than you’re able to on your own.
And for that, you’ll want to recruit your A-team.
3 – Consult Your Attorney
Keep this in mind — when you sue a hospital, whether it’s for malpractice, negligence or wrongful death, you’re taking on a professional team of hospital law attorneys. This is a far cry from their first rodeo. It probably goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway — if you want to win and get the most money out of the hospital and into your pocket, you need to find a good lawyer with the right experience. Experience filing and winning lawsuits like yours.
One good piece of news is, most malpractice lawyers work on contingency, so not having enough money won’t be an issue.
Call them up.
Easy as that.
A good attorney will seamlessly guide you through the rest of the process. Honestly, you don’t even need the rest of this guide — just give us a call now and we’ll walk you through it step by step! But if you want to understand the process better before that, read on to the next step.
4 – File Your Complaint Against The Hospital
This is where your lawyer files the complaint with your state court. This complaint is pretty much exactly what it sounds like it is. It’s an official complaint against the hospital including what they did wrong, and the amount of money you expect as payment for the damage done.
Next, it’s off to the races! Starting with what may be the most molasses-slow, tedious game you’ve ever played. We call it discovery.
5 – Do The Discovery
What’s discovery, you ask?
It’s a somewhat intrusive process where their team interrogates you and gathers evidence from your team. Your team does the same to them.
This is a very good thing because it gives your lawyer the chance to gather convincing information to win your case with. And that brings us to the final phase in our hospital-suing journey: The trial.
6 – Get Paid (Or Move Forward To The Trial)
After your lawyer investigates, and you file your complaint, and complete discovery, now it’s time (ideally) to get paid.
If the conditions are right, your lawyer will pursue a settlement. If the hospital realizes you’re in the right and they owe you compensation, they may choose to settle. For malpractice cases, 9 times out of 10, the hospital will settle out of court.
If they do, your attorney, the hospital and you will reach an agreement and settle for a fair sum of money.
But if you can’t come to an agreement, for whatever reason, it’s on to the next step in your hospital-suing journey! The trial.
7 – Prep & Get To That Trial
Your lawyer and the rest of the team will hold pre-trial conferences with you (and your witnesses and experts too), to make sure everyone’s on the same page and knows exactly what to expect.
That way, by the time you get to the trial, you’ll be well-prepped and ready to win your case. At the end of your trial the jury will make their decision. If they decide in your favor, congrats, you win!
You wanted to sue the hospital. You did. And now you’ll be rewarded for your hard work, preparation and patience. Now, in the best case scenario, this never would have happened to begin with. But since you’ve been wronged, it’s only right for you to be compensated, in both justice served and a heftier bank account.
Hospital Lawsuits FAQs
Is it hard to sue a hospital?
Although proving medical malpractice can be challenging, settling is much easier in most cases. In fact, about 93% of malpractice cases do not go to trial, and instead, are settled out of court. In these cases, it’s not nearly as difficult to sue the hospital as you might think. Now, to prove malpractice, it’s mandatory to demonstrate that both the hospital and the doctor were responsible. It’s the duty of the hospital and the medical staff that operate it to provide you with the utmost care, and you can hold them responsible for malpractice by suing.
How much does it cost to sue a hospital?
Although it can cost anywhere between $100 and $500 to file a lawsuit, in many if not most cases, there’s no need to pay any money upfront. (As these types of cases are usually taken on contingency.) That said, the patient may be required to pay a small fee to the hospital to acquire their medical records.
Can you sue a hospital for not treating you right?
To successfully sue the hospital for treating you poorly, you have to meet the right criteria. If the negligence of the hospital results in clear damage to your physical health, mental health, or financial health, you may have a good case. But as the patient, you must demonstrate how (as well as to what extent) you were harmed due to the hospital’s negligence.
Can you sue a hospital for emotional distress?
Yes. The truth is, the consequences of emotional distress are oftentimes just as bad and sometimes even worse than physical distress. There have been numerous instances of patients successfully suing their hospital for negligence that resulted in emotional distress.
What are the odds of winning a suit against the hospital?
Like we covered earlier, more than 9 out of 10 malpractice cases are settled without going to trial. If you do end up in court, here’s the data: In the case of weak evidence, physicians win about 80% to 90% of the time. This number drops to 70% in the case of borderline evidence. Where there’s strong evidence suggesting potential medical negligence, physicians win 50% of trials. Luckily for the patient, 93% of the cases settle and they’re compensated without having to go to court.
How long does it take to win in court against the hospital?
While this is hard to determine, usually it takes about five years. (Keep in mind, that’s not how long it typically takes to settle outside of court, which happens the vast majority of the time.) While different studies came up with different results, a New England Journal of Medicine study claimed the average time period between an injury (due to healthcare-based negligence), and the decision in relation to the case, was five years.
Is it better to settle out of court?
100% yes! Again, 9 out of 10 times, malpractice cases settle outside of court. Why? The majority of cases related to personal injury settle out of court because there are many advantages compared to filing a lawsuit. Settling takes less time, less money, and is much less risky.
Did you like this article? Learn more about the medical malpractice lawsuit process with our medical malpractice lawsuit guide!
If you think you or a loved one is the victim of malpractice, fill out this brief contact form to get in touch with Hampton & King Attorneys at Law. We’ll help you set up a consultation to review your case and see if you’re eligible for compensation.