How to Determine if a Medical Malpractice Case is Worth Pursuing
Medical malpractice cases are often more complex, more involved, and more difficult to win than a typical personal injury matter. Not only must the plaintiff show that they were harmed by a doctor’s conduct; they must also establish the relevant standard of medical care, specific to both the area of medicine and the procedure actually performed or diagnosis missed, and prove that that standard was violated. If you have a potential client interested in pursuing a medical malpractice claim, it’s important to evaluate the potential merit and value of the claim at the outset. Below, we discuss some of the factors that weigh into whether a medical malpractice claim is worth pursuing. If you have questions or are litigating a case involving issues of medical science, call a seasoned medical expert for assistance.
Many patients get upset when a procedure does not lead to the results they hoped for. A patient who pays for Lasik eye surgery may be frustrated if they walk away with 30/20 vision instead of 20/20 vision. However, the fact that a procedure was not 100% effective does not mean that malpractice occurred, or indeed that they have any legally cognizable injury. If a patient walks away from eye surgery with worse vision or without vision in one eye, then a claim for malpractice might lie. If a patient simply wasn’t happy with the results, the case might not be worth pursuing. Some patients, in fact, get angry enough at poor bedside manner from a doctor or nurse that they believe they have a malpractice claim. If there’s no actual harm to the patient, there’s no malpractice claim.
Unless the surgeon left a glove inside the patient, medical malpractice cases are often not quick and easy to pursue. It’s important to weigh the potential value of a case at the outset. If a patient did not get their medication for a few additional hours, but the error was corrected and no lasting harm was caused, the case is likely not worth pursuing. In addition to considering whether the patient was harmed at all, consider whether that injury is long-lasting or temporary, as well as the severity of the damage caused.
Even if a patient suffered actual harm, a case might not be worth the expense and time if the injury is not long-lasting. Momentary pain, unfortunately, is not likely to lead to much of a recovery at trial or the settlement table. If a patient has suffered long-term or permanent harm, such as the loss of a limb, chronic pain, or a debilitating disease, then a case is much more likely to have significant, recoverable damages.
Did the Medical Professional Make a Mistake?
Not every procedure goes perfectly, not every condition is diagnosed promptly and accurately, and not every drug works the same way with every patient. The question is not whether things could have gone better; the question is whether the healthcare professional violated the relevant standard of care at any point along the line. If the doctors and nurses all did their jobs as best they could, but the patient suffered harm regardless, a medical malpractice claim will not lie. Talk to a knowledgeable medical expert about the circumstances of the patient’s injury to find out whether there was, or at least whether there may have been, actual malpractice committed before pursuing a potentially fruitless malpractice case.
If you need a qualified, thorough, and effective expert witness in a personal injury, medical malpractice, or product liability case, contact the offices of Neurosurgery Medlegal Services, LLC, at 866-659-8051.