Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Personal injury lawyers file medical malpractice lawsuits on behalf of their clients who have suffered a wrongful death or serious and long-term damage from the negligence of a medical professional. A medical malpractice lawsuit is designed to recover damages for wrongful death; loss of love, affection and companionship; pain and suffering; lost wages and disability. The lawsuit is also a way to hold the negligent medical provider responsible for their action or inaction.

When should I file a medical malpractice lawsuit?

A medical malpractice lawsuit should be pursued as soon as possible because all personal injury lawsuits have a statute of limitations. A statute of limitations means that you have a set amount of time from the date of the injury to file a claim or the case will no longer be accepted. In Washington State the statute of limitations is three years.

What kinds of damages can be recovered in a medical malpractice lawsuit?

Depending on the severity of the injury, medical expenses can be very costly. The type of injury will affect the damages awarded in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Some examples include:

  • Therapy, both physical and mental
  • Lost wages
  • Pain, suffering, mental anguish and disability
  • In-home care
  • Rehabilitation
  • Other medical treatments and expenses

Damages for wrongful death include:

  • Loss of love, affection and companionship
  • Funeral expenses
  • Lost future earnings/wages

Note that punitive damages are not available to victims of medical malpractice in Washington State.

How is a medical malpractice lawsuit won?

A medical malpractice lawyer expects the defendant to hire a defense attorney who will vigorously attempt to reduce or eliminate a medical professional’s culpability in the injury. A good medical malpractice attorney acts as an experienced and professional adversary who will overcome the common tactics used by defense lawyers. He will interview and retain witnesses, investigate and research issues and gather supporting documents.

What are the steps taken in a medical malpractice lawsuit?

A medical malpractice lawyer starts building a personal injury case by gathering all relevant documents and evidence required for a successful outcome. He or she will interview all witnesses, retain expert witnesses and may schedule medical evaluations of your injury to gather independent medical opinions.

After the information has been gathered and expert witness interviews have been conducted:

  1. The attorney will serve a “complaint” on the defendant. The complaint is an official, detailed document that describes the reason for the lawsuit and why the defendant is being sued. In Washington State, the defendant is typically allowed 20 days after the date of service to answer.
  2. In the pre- trial litigation phase (also called the “discovery” phase) your malpractice lawyer will discuss the details of the case with the defense attorney and the parties will decide if the case can be settled out of court or if it will continue to trial. This is typically the longest part of the case, sometimes stretching on for several months or years.
  3. Settlement or trial. The majority of medical malpractice lawsuits are settled out of court, sometimes right before a trial begins. Once a case is settled, the victim usually receives damages within a few months but it can vary depending on the state.

Patience is required for a medical malpractice lawsuit. In some cases attorneys are able to work out a settlement without going to trial but it can take several months or years to come to an agreement. A settlement is, however, the more desirable solution because a trial typically takes even longer, costs more and there is a chance that the other party will appeal the decision.

If you or a loved one is dealing with an accident or injury caused by the negligence of a medical professional, you have enough on your plate. Let an experienced medical malpractice attorney fight the justice and compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County and surrounding areas since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!