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When Can I File a Lawsuit for Medical Malpractice?

Filing a lawsuit for Medical malpractice is a complicated and emotional issue. After all, when you visit a healthcare facility, you are already in a vulnerable situation. 

Once you make it in front of a doctor, you expect to receive compassionate and knowledgeable care. When that doesn’t happen, it can feel as though the rug has been pulled out from under you. 

You’ve probably heard of medical malpractice lawsuits that are filed against a doctor. But did you know that a hospital can also be sued for negligence? Keep reading to learn more about this area of law. 

The Parts and Pieces of a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

An injured person can only file a medical malpractice lawsuit under certain conditions. In all, you must establish four separate pieces for a lawsuit to be successful. They include:

1. A Duty of Care

To file a lawsuit against a hospital, you must be able to prove that the hospital had a duty of care to the injured person. This should be easy enough, so long as you can establish a contractual relationship between the hospital, the healthcare provider, and the patient. 

If the doctor was an independent contractor and not an employee, it may be difficult to prove that the hospital itself was negligent. In that case, it is often more appropriate to file a lawsuit against a specific doctor. 

2. Breach of Duty

Of course, establishing a duty of care is not enough to justify a lawsuit. You must also be able to prove that the duty of care was breached. Most often, this requires you to prove that the doctor or facility failed to provide an acceptable standard of care. 

This step could entail expert testimony from another doctor who is willing to testify that he would have taken different steps under the same circumstances. 

It’s also possible to file a lawsuit when there were obvious mistakes made. For example, if a patient was not given adequate anesthesia or if a piece of surgical equipment was left in the patient, it could be grounds for a lawsuit. 

3. Causation

From there, you must prove that the breach of duty led to a patient’s injuries. If it’s possible that the outcome would have been the same, regardless of whether the doctor’s breach of duty had occurred or not, it can be hard to build a personal injury lawsuit. 

4. Damages

The final piece of the puzzle is quantifiable damages. It’s not enough to say that the treatment was inadequate or unsatisfactory. A patient must be able to point to either economic or non-economic harm. This may include everything from medical bills to pain and suffering. 

Obviously, the legal processes of a medical negligence lawsuit are somewhat complicated. For best results, you will want to consult with a knowledgeable attorney. That way, you can get started on the right foot by determining whether a lawsuit is even appropriate. 

Pay Attention to the Statute of Limitations

Now that you know the basic foundation of a medical negligence lawsuit, you might be ready to move forward. But before you go, we want to inform you of one last important detail: the statute of limitations.

In New York, the statute of limitations for these kinds of lawsuits is capped at two years and six months. That means you have 30 months from the date of the malpractice to file a lawsuit against the hospital to blame. 

These laws are not intended to make it more difficult for the sick and injured to pursue compensation. Instead, they are a protection for the medical community. After a certain amount of time, it can be hard to get a fair look at the evidence.  

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been injured because of the negligence of a doctor or hospital, you need a personal injury attorney. The Law Offices of Frank J. Dito will do anything possible to help you obtain fair compensation for your injuries. Contact our office today.