Suing a Doctor for Medical Negligence
Like all professionals, doctors must exercise sufficient care when they treat patients.
When a doctor makes a mistake or is otherwise careless, innocent victims can be seriously and sometimes fatally injured.
This is called medical negligence or medical malpractice, and Wyoming law fortunately allows patients to sue their doctors in these situations.
Suing a doctor for medical negligence is not easy. In fact, these types of cases are trickier than the average slip and fall or car accident case. If you do not follow the rules, or if you don’t have enough quality evidence, you can easily lose your case.
Contact a medical negligence attorney today. Platte River Injury Law has helped injured patients like you get the compensation you deserve. Below, we run down the steps you should take.
Identify whether a Doctor Negligently Injured You
There are many examples of negligence. For example, a doctor might have left an implement inside you during surgery, such as a sponge. In other cases, a doctor fails to properly diagnose a condition, which delays you getting appropriate medical care. In still other cases, a doctor might prescribe the wrong prescription or the wrong dosage. Doctors can be negligent in many ways.
However, it isn’t always clear whether a doctor was negligent. Instead, he or she must not have followed the accepted standard of care for the profession. If you think something is wrong, you should get a second opinion and then meet with an attorney.
Find Evidence of Negligence
The centerpiece of a medical negligence case is whether your doctor’s conduct fell below the accepted standard of care. Generally, you will need an expert witness to help establish this.
For example, if you go to the hospital with a series of physical ailments, a doctor should order certain tests. But do you know what tests the doctor should order? This is where an expert witness is helpful. The expert is usually a current or former doctor who understands how a careful doctor would have treated a patient.
You might also have helpful evidence in your possession. Hold onto prescription drugs written for you and write down your own memories of what your doctor told you. This evidence could prove critical later.
Meet with an Attorney Before the Statute of Limitations Runs Out
Wyoming gives injured patients only 2 years from the date of the doctor’s error to bring a lawsuit. An exception exists if the medical negligence was not reasonably discoverable before 2 years.
In any event, you should meet with an attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights. Your attorney can figure out whether time is running out to get a claim filed.
Submit a Claim to the Medical Review Panel
Under WY Stat. 9-2-1518, you must first submit a claim to a medical review panel before you can sue. This panel reviews the evidence and makes a finding of whether the claim has merit or not. This panel can sometimes speed up the settlement process, especially if the panel finds the doctor made a mistake that injured you.
First, you submit a claim explaining what happened. You also authorize a release of all your medical records. The panel is interested in whether your injuries existed before the allegedly negligent medical treatment, in which case the doctor’s treatment might not be to blame.
You also must submit a statement from a qualified medical expert who explains why he thinks your case has merit. This is why you need to find an expert witness soon in the process.
Your doctor will also respond to your claim within 60 days. If he or she doesn’t, then you are free to go straight to court and file your case. After reviewing the evidence, the Medical Review Panel will decide whether there is substantial evidence your doctor committed medical negligence and whether it is reasonably probable that you were injured by that negligence.
The Panel’s decision is not binding on you. Even if they determine there is insufficient evidence, you can still go to court. However, their findings might be submitted to court during a trial and can influence a jury’s decision.
Need Help? Reach Out to Us Today
If you or a loved one was injured by a negligent doctor, you should meet with a medical negligence attorney at Platte River Injury Law. We are eager to learn more about your medical problems and why you think a doctor’s malpractice has contributed to your injuries.
Contact us today. We offer a free, confidential case review which will help you better understand your options for holding the doctor accountable.