Malpractice law is one of the most complicated, convoluted and complex areas of the law. The standards and restrictions are incredibly inconsistent from one place in the country to the next, and laws protecting patients or medical professionals may be robust in one state, and non-existent in the next. Malpractice law, however, is also one of the most critical areas of the legal system. In some cases, a suit or settlement is the only means a patient has for recourse and compensation.
Time is Not on Your Side
Malpractice law is guided by a strict and specific set of non-negotiable standards. As discussed in the article “Can a Medical Malpractice Attorney Reopen a Malpractice Claim?” there are several legal limitations faced by those pursuing lawsuits.
First of all most states limit the amount of time a person can wait before filing a suit. These time constraints are called statutes of limitations, which vary wildly from state to state. Some statutes of limitations are cut and dry while others are more nuanced and may require legal assistance to navigate. Next, some states make it impossible to modify a claim once you accept any money whatsoever from an insurance company. This rule is often true even if new symptoms begin to develop.
Time of Care vs. Time of Injury
To succeed in a malpractice suit, a patient must prove not only that the medical professional made an error, and that the error resulted in harm. The problem, however, is that the harm may not be discovered until well after the error was committed. This is often the case in suits that allege misdiagnoses.
Settlements: Set in Stone
There are almost no circumstances under which the terms of a settlement can be changed. Those few instances include deception by the insurance company or failure to sign a release. In most cases, however, once an agreement is finalized, both parties are bound to the terms.
Malpractice injuries can strike patients of any ages.
Medical malpractice is not an area of law the average, untrained patient should attempt to navigate alone. Attorneys who specialize in this field of law understand the subtleties and nuances that surround the subject matter in their particular state. First and foremost, be cognizant of time. The moment the error is committed or the harm is discovered; a very unforgiving clock begins ticking. Know your state’s laws, seek legal advice and act quickly!