When a doctor makes a mistake in your health care, it can have devastating consequences. A medical error can cause serious injury, disability, and permanent damages. When a doctor or hospital makes a medical error that causes an injury or death, the injury victim and their family may be able to recover damages to compensate them for their losses.
In a medical malpractice lawsuit, the injured patient has to show that their doctor breached their duty of care, which caused the injury and loss. Medical malpractice lawsuits can be very complicated, involving multiple doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, nurses, and other health care providers. Some examples of medical malpractice and an overview of the legal process can help you understand if you might have a claim.
Examples of medical malpractice can include any injury, damage, or loss caused by medical negligence. Most medical malpractice cases involve a patient making a claim against a doctor, hospital, or other medical professionals. Some examples of medical malpractice injuries include:
A medical malpractice case generally begins with contacting a law firm with a focus on medical malpractice claims. An experienced medical malpractice attorney will generally begin with a review of the case and consultation with a medical expert. If there is a basis to file a personal injury claim, the lawyer will file a complaint with the civil court. The complaint is served upon all the known defendants in the case and the defendants file an answer.
The next stage of a malpractice case is discovery. During discovery, the parties exchange information and evidence, including medical records and hospital records. The parties have to respond to interrogatories and can be questioned in a deposition. If the defendants are not providing the information requested, the malpractice attorney can file a motion in court to compel them to produce the evidence.
Medical malpractice cases generally involve one or more medical experts. Experts can help the jury determine if the doctor involved breached the medical standard of care. Medical expert witnesses will review the records and produce an expert report that summarizes their findings.
At any time, the parties can settle a case. Most medical malpractice claims in San Mateo are settled before they go to trial. A settlement can help the injury victim recover some compensation while avoiding the unpredictability of a trial. The decision to accept a settlement off or not is left up to the plaintiff.
If the case goes to trial, it will generally be heard before a jury. The jury is selected and each side presents their case to the jury. The jury will see the evidence presented, hear from witnesses, and hear from medical experts who reviewed the case. The jury will then decide whether or not the defendants were liable to the plaintiff for damages and each defendant's level of fault. The jury will also decide how much to award the plaintiff for their injuries and losses.
There are many options for hiring a medical malpractice lawyer that may cost nothing upfront. Many medical malpractice law firms operate on a contingency basis. This means the injury victim does not have to pay anything until the lawyer recovers an award. The legal costs will generally be taken as a percentage of the award. Contingency fees allow injury victims to go up against large healthcare companies without having to worry about affording the cost of legal representation.
Many medical injury lawyers also provide a free consultation. An initial consultation is a good way to evaluate the law firm to make sure they are the right fit for your case. When you find a medical malpractice attorney, consider their experience, what types of cases they handle, how they will stay in contact with you, and which lawyer will be handling your case.
Medical malpractice and wrongful death claims have a time limit known as a statute of limitations. A medical malpractice attorney can make sure the claim is filed in time. If a complaint is filed even one day late, the injury victim may be barred from recovering any damages.
Medical malpractice cases are complex and can take a long time. It is important to have someone on your side to represent you through the long and difficult process. The right medical malpractice lawyer can let you know your options in a legal case, including whether you want to accept a settlement offer or take your case to court. Your lawyer can also negotiate to make sure you get an award to cover all your costs and damages.
How Do I Find a Medical Malpractice Lawyer?
If you or a loved one suffered an injury based on a bad diagnosis, botched surgery, medical fraud, prescription errors, or breach of doctor-patient confidentiality, a medical malpractice lawyer can help. Use FindLaw to find a medical malpractice lawyer near you to represent you in your medical malpractice dispute.
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Detailed law firm profiles have information like the firm's area of law, office location, office hours, and payment options. Attorney profiles include the biography, education and training, and client recommendations of an attorney to help you decide who to hire.
Use the contact form on the profiles to connect with a San Mateo, California attorney for legal advice.
Consider the following:
- Are you comfortable telling the lawyer personal information? Does the lawyer seem interested in solving your problem?
- How long has the lawyer been in practice? Has the lawyer worked on other cases similar to yours?
- How are the lawyer's fees structured - hourly or flat fee? Can the lawyer estimate the cost of your case?
- Is the lawyer's office conveniently located near you?
Many people who need to find a lawyer in California have never hired a lawyer before. Talking to a lawyer may be a new experience and you might want some help getting started. Here are some questions you may want to ask a lawyer before deciding who to hire.
What is your main practice area?
How many years of experience do you have in California with cases like mine?
How often do you take cases to trial or settle them out of court?
Can I take my case through mediation or arbitration?
Do you offer a free consultation?
What are your fees and costs?
Will you be the attorney primarily handling my case?
How will I be kept up-to-date about my case?
In order to practice law in California, attorneys have to both pass the California bar exam and be admitted by the State Bar of California. Most attorneys in California graduate from an accredited law school but some lawyers are admitted through on-the-job experience for a minimum of 4 years and through passing an additional legal exam. After a lawyer is admitted to law practice in California, they can practice in almost any area of law.
Lawyers in California are held to strict ethical guidelines known as the Rules of Professional Conduct. Attorneys may have duties and limitations in:
Duty of client advocacy
Conflicts of interest
Duty of candor
Limitations in soliciting clients
Restrictions on handling a client's money
Many people avoid calling a lawyer because they are worried it will be too expensive. In many cases, a lawyer can end up saving the client money. This includes getting an increased award, recovering additional damages, avoiding financial problems in the future, and avoiding future disputes and litigation. Some legal areas even allow the lawyer to recover legal fees from the party at fault.