What is Medical Malpractice?
When a healthcare provider treats you, they have to do so in a reasonably careful manner that would be expected of any other healthcare provider treating you for the same condition. They do not have to exercise super-human care. Instead, they just have to do what is expected of a reasonably careful healthcare provider. If they fail to do so, and you get hurt because of their failure, that is medical malpractice. This is known as a breach of the standard of care.
How do I prove that a healthcare provider has committed medical malpractice?
In order to prove your case, we will need to have another healthcare provider who practices in the same area or does the same procedure as the healthcare provider that you believe made a mistake. In other words, if an orthopedic surgeon makes a mistake while repairing a fractured femur, we need to retain an orthopedic surgeon. We cannot have a family doctor provide that opinion. Generally, because physicians do not like to testify that another doctor made a mistake, we have to retain expert witnesses outside the state of Washington.
I believe I have a medical malpractice claim; how long do I have to file a claim?
If you think that a healthcare provider has made a mistake that has hurt you, you should contact an attorney who practices in this area as soon as possible. After a certain amount of time, you will lose the ability to bring a lawsuit against the healthcare provider for their mistake.
As a general rule, in Washington State, you have three years from the time of the mistake in which to file a lawsuit. However, there are many exceptions. Those exceptions are too numerous to explain here.
I’d like to set up an appointment, do I need to bring any documents?
No, you don’t need to bring any records with you. However, if you do have medical records, that may help us in our initial review.
Whether or not you have your medical records, we will want to obtain a full set of records at some point.
How long do medical malpractice lawsuits take?
Medical malpractice cases take a substantial amount of time. First, we have to obtain your medical records that will most often take at least two months. Then we need to go through, read your records, and analyze them. We then need to find an expert to review your medical records and provide an opinion as to whether there has been a breach of the standard of care that resulted in harm to you. It is only after this initial work that, if the expert determines that there was negligent treatment, that we will file a lawsuit. In King and Pierce Counties, trial dates for medical malpractice cases are typically 18 months after the lawsuit is filed. Other counties have different time-periods for assigning a trial date after the lawsuit is filed.