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Basic Requirements for Medical Malpractice Claims
Medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. This is an alarming statistic that says a lot about the medical profession at large.
Armed with the above fact, It is of utmost importance to keep the medical community honest and engaged in practicing safe medicine by holding them accountable for any negligence on their part. One way to do so is to file for malpractice suits.
The Ball is in Your Court When it Comes to Malpractice
If you reside in Oklahoma and feel that you or a loved one is the victim of medical negligence, you can file a medical malpractice suit within the state. There are certain procedures you will have to be aware of while filing so that the process will go smoother for you.
While it is always good to seek the assistance of a good Oklahoma medical malpractice lawyer when filing a malpractice claim, there are certain guidelines, that when followed, can help both you and your lawyer to successfully attain the compensation you are entitled to.
What is Medical-Malpractice?
Before discussing the basic requirements for filing, it is important to understand what constitutes medical negligence and how to ascertain if you are a victim of it, without which any legal action would be rendered useless.
A healthcare provider is said to be engaged in malpractice when they do not follow the proper guidelines while caring for their patients.
The medical community in the U.S. must follow certain “standards of care” when treating someone. If they fail to follow such standards, they are considered negligent and are guilty of malpractice.
While injuries occurring from not following set standards of medical care are always the fault of the healthcare practitioner, a negative outcome is not, however, always the result of malpractice.
There are certain procedures and treatments that always carry risks associated with them and if the medical practitioner has done their best to explain those risks to the patient, then they are not negligible should those risks manifest themselves under standard care procedures.
Medical mistakes which lead to malpractice are often caused by mental mistakes and not by the actual medical procedures themselves.
There are various reasons for healthcare providers to suffer from mental errors, but the fact remains that whatever the reason, mental mistakes should never go unnoticed.
If any injury was caused by a mental lapse or faulty medical procedure, then the patient has every right to seek legal justice.
Requirements for Malpractice Claims
Step 1: Always consult an attorney first. This should seem obvious as most people do not know the law as well as one who practices it.
Your malpractice attorney will help you file your claim on time. Since malpractice cases must be filed before the state’s statute of limitations runs out, your attorney can tell you how long you have to file.
The statute of limitations for malpractice varies from state to state, but if you would like to find out what the statute of limitations is for Oklahoma, you can ask Steven E. Clark, an Oklahoma medical malpractice lawyer at www.clarkmitchell.com.
An attorney who specializes in malpractice cases can also help you with any further requirements your state may have for filing. Some of these requirements include, but are not limited to: notices of intent, medical and expert affidavits, and review board hearings.
Depending on the state you file from, failure to meet such requirements can lead to the dismissal of your case, which is why you should always find a lawyer in your state that is an expert in handling malpractice suits. Going at it alone may ultimately result in your case never going to trial.
Step 2: Contact your insurance company and the hospital from where you received your injury. Notifying them of your malpractice suit can sometimes activate coverage and reviews, and even procure settlements out of court.
Having an attorney help you with claims adjusters is critical, as she can often negotiate an acceptable pre-trial settlement and save you and everyone else involved both time and money.
What is more, an expert malpractice lawyer can prevent professional claim representatives from taking you lightly and bullying you into unacceptable compensation.
Step 3: Get your medical records ready. The minute you and your lawyer feel that you may have a valid malpractice case, contact your hospital and ask for your medical records.
In most malpractice cases, medical records are often the best source of evidence to prove medical negligence. Your hospital must grant you access to your complete medical history and you must sign a release stating that your attorney and the defendants’ attorneys may have access to them as well.
Armed with your medical records, your attorney can ascertain if you have reasonable chance of success. If so, she can then gather expert witnesses according to the findings within your records and begin the filing procedures with earnest.
If after reviewing your medical records your attorney feels that your case is not worthy of a malpractice suit, they will notify you and dismiss the filing process altogether. While this may not be the desired outcome, it will save you a ton of money in the long run.
Step 4: Follow all of the pre-suit standards of the state. Many states require sworn statements from medical experts that define the normal standards of care for a malpractice case. These standards and requirements must be met before you can even begin filing.
Pre-suit requirements are meant to inspire pre-trial settlements and dissuade superficial malpractice cases from going to trial. This helps to reduce the number of malpractice suits resulting in a more efficient litigation system.
If you fail to file any pre-suit requirements in Oklahoma, your malpractice case may get dismissed, therefore be sure to find a good Oklahoma medical malpractice lawyer that can guide you in fulfilling all the requirements outlined by the Oklahoma court system for malpractice suits.
Step 5: File a complaint. Your complaint will outline your reasons for filing and list the defending hospital and/or doctors who you have accused of medical negligence. It is the final step in the filing process and the beginning of the actual malpractice lawsuit.
As with all the other filing steps, registering a complaint can be complicated, which is why you want to elicit the service a professional attorney specialized in such cases. Failure to do so may lead to either dismissal, unfair settlement, or reduced compensation.
Oklahoma Medical-Malpractice Laws
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury as a result of medical negligence while residing in Oklahoma, you are entitled to filing for a malpractice case and can be awarded compensation under the state’s malpractice law.
Before you begin the filing process, you should know of several key requirements needed by the Oklahoma court system. These include the state’s statute of limitations and calculation and distribution of compensation.
Oklahoma Statute of Limitations for Malpractice Lawsuits
If you have been injured by medical malpractice in Oklahoma you have two years from the time of injury to file your claim. If, however, the date of actual injury cannot be determined then it the time period begins when you first felt there was a problem.
The normal cap for malpractice cases in Oklahoma is $350,000. However, if the judge feels that the defendant was extremely negligent, fraudulent, reckless, or acted out in malice, the damages can be much higher.
In the state of Oklahoma, you must attach an affidavit to your complaint when you file. The affidavit must state that a medical expert has looked over your case and believes that your healthcare provider acted out in negligence and caused your injury.
While the above requirements by no means represent all of the standards which must be met under Oklahoma malpractice law, they do give you a brief outline of what you must do when filing a malpractice lawsuit within the state.
If you would like to learn more about filing a malpractice claim in Oklahoma, please contact the law offices of Clark & Mitchell, situated in Oklahoma City.