If you or a loved one have been seriously injured as a result of medical malpractice, are dealing with the stress of mounting medical bills, and are thinking about going forward with a claim, it is natural to be concerned you may do something to harm your case. This is especially so when you are still unrepresented. Below are some mistakes to avoid if you think you have a medical malpractice lawsuit.
The first mistake is sitting on your claim and not investigating it further. This can happen in a variety of ways. For example, following surgery you may have serious ongoing pain in the area operated on or worse yet, in a different part of your body not operated on. Your doctor may tell you this is a natural consequence of the surgery and not to worry about it, or that your pain and other issues will go away over time. However if you have concerns that there is something seriously wrong with you, you should act on it immediately and seek out a second opinion from another doctor.
You may also delay on investigating your claim because you and your family are processing a heartbreaking loss, and are questioning whether you want to go through the added stress of litigation over that loss. This is perfectly fine and normal. Just be aware you typically have two years from the date of negligence (or death if the malpractice lead to the death of a family member) to file suit. The closer you get to that two year deadline the more difficult it will be for an attorney to investigate the claim. That investigation process involves medical research, obtaining records, and speaking to medical experts, all of which can take months to complete. Because of the amount of time needed to investigate these claims, if you wait until the end of that two year deadline to talk to an attorney, they may not be able to do anything to help you.
The second mistake is attempting to handle the case on your own. Few trained civil litigation attorneys handle medical malpractice cases because they are normally complex and expensive to bring. Therefore attempting to handle one on your own without any legal training or experience can be detrimental to your claim. You could make mistakes that, even if you later decide to get an attorney involved, cannot be fixed and result in your case being dismissed.
A third mistake is trying to negotiate with a defendant’s malpractice carrier on your own. In rare instances the negligence of the medical provider may be so obvious that the medical provider’s malpractice insurance carrier will want to discuss settlement with you. Hopefully that malpractice carrier will deal with you in good faith and offer you fair value to settle your claim. However that malpractice carrier may use your inexperience and lack of knowledge in valuing these cases against you and try and get you to settle for an amount that does not fully compensate you and your family for your losses. At the very least then, you should contact an experienced malpractice attorney to get their second opinion on the value of your case. That way, even if you want to handle the settlement negotiations on your own, you can know whether or not you are being offered fair value. To get that you may ultimately need to retain an attorney who brings the threat of litigation if the two sides cannot work things out.
A fourth mistake is posting about your case on social media. While you may look to social media – whether it be Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram – as a release to discuss any daily frustrations you are going through, doing that with a potential or ongoing lawsuit can cause you a lot of problems. Even the most innocuous of posts could be used against you later on. Likewise the quickest way to tank a potential settlement is to post about it on social media.
Fifth and finally is not speaking to an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon possible about your case. The attorneys at The Thistle Law Firm have been handling these claims for years and are here to answer your questions at 215-568-6800.