Sometimes hospitals and doctors make mistakes that cause harm to their patients. If you are one of those unfortunate patients, you need the help of a lawyer. At Monteith, Baker, Johnston and Doodnauth, we have lawyers who will help you receive the compensation you deserve.
Medical malpractice claims are often referred to as a battle of medical experts. In a medical malpractice trial each side will call experts to testify as to whether or not a doctor or hospital was negligent and whether or not that negligence caused harm to the patient. The judge will then decide which evidence he or she prefers, whether the doctor or hospital has been negligent, whether the doctor’s negligence caused harm to the patient and what compensation, if any, should be paid.
A doctor is considered to be negligent if he or she has done something which other doctors, acting reasonably, would not have done in the same situation or if he or she fails to do something that other doctors, acting reasonably, would have done in the same situation. The definition of negligence is similar in the case of a hospital.
It is usually difficult for a lawyer to give an opinion as to whether a doctor or hospital has been negligent in the first meeting with the client. In most instances, the lawyer has to first retain medical experts (in the case of a doctor, the same type of doctor), who will review all of the relevant medical records and provide opinions as to whether the doctor or hospital in question has been negligent and whether that negligence has harmed the patient. In some cases, the lawyer will want two or three opinions that if the doctor or hospital had not been negligent, harm to the patient would not have occurred. The initial investigation stage in which medical records are collected and reviewed by medical experts, who then provide their opinions, can be relatively expensive. Usually, it is only after this initial stage has been completed that a lawyer can give a confident opinion to the client as to whether or not a lawsuit against the doctor or hospital will be successful. In most cases, after first meeting the client, all the lawyer can say is that the matter is worth investigating.
Once the investigation stage has been completed, the lawyer and client meet to discuss whether to proceed with a lawsuit and the financing of the lawsuit. If it appears that there is a strong case, the lawyer will probably finance the lawsuit and wait to be reimbursed for disbursements and paid for his time until after the matter is completed. In cases which are only moderately strong, the lawyer may agree to be paid for his time when, and if, the claim succeeds, but may require the client to pay for the disbursements as they are incurred.
“Disbursements” refer to the lawyer’s expenses for things such as court fees, medical records or expert opinions. If the claim is successful, either through settlement discussions or trial, in addition to compensation for the harm you have suffered, you will be reimbursed for most, but not all, of your legal costs.
Because medical malpractice lawsuits are often difficult and complicated, we usually advise our clients to take legal action only if the doctor’s or hospital’s negligence has caused them serious harm and the evidence of negligence and causation is fairly strong. If you believe that your situation fits this description, you should call us at Monteith, Baker, Johnston and Doodnauth for effective representation in your medical malpractice claim.
It should be remembered that a lawsuit must be commenced within two years of the acts of negligence that caused the harm. The two year limitation period does not begin to run until you are aware, or should have been aware, of the acts of negligence and the resulting harm to you. If you are not sure about the application of a limitation period to your case, you should contact us as soon as possible to review your potential claim.