Did you get injured from the negligence of a doctor and have questions about medical malpractice case expectations? Give us a call today.
1) Choosing a Attorney
Medical malpractice is one of the most personal areas of law that a potential client could come to a law firm about. It deals with their bodily integrity and health issues that could, in some cases, result in the loss of their lives. When you’re selecting a medical malpractice attorney and you feel like a doctor has deviated from the standard of care, you need a competent attorney— someone that can understand medical terminology and has the system of resources that are necessary to pursue your medical malpractice claim. This is bigger than someone stepped on your toe or someone ran into the side of your car. These are things that have happened to your anatomy, to your body, so you need someone that has that level of experience and that level of confidence in dealing with very complex cases, someone who knows how to deal with experts and doctors and medical opinions and who is well-studied, well-rounded and compassionate because you’re still coming through the recovery process.
Some medical malpractice cases are emotionally damaging, as well. You need someone that can look at the statutes here in the state of Arizona and determine the best pathway to take to get you the best outcome for your medical malpractice case. You also need a litigator. It’s not very often that medical malpractice cases are not filed in court because oftentimes in medical malpractice cases, if they’re settled, the doctors have to file things with the medical board, and they want to protect their license. You’re going to need someone that has the ability to take it all the way, if it should become necessary.
2) Case Timeline
Here in the state of Arizona, our rules of practice and our rules of civil procedure and our Arizona revised statute has specific things that must occur in pursuing medical malpractice cases, about institutions and about doctors specifically. There’s certain prescribed courses of actions that must take place. Our statutes have rendered these courses of action to streamline some of the litigation processes. I say that to make the point simply that medical malpractice cases are some of the slowest moving cases through our court system because it involves a lot of information – volumes and volumes of medical records, a great number of expert witnesses that have to be reviewed. You’ve got a lot of busy people. Doctors are busy people. The experts are busy people. The lawyers are busy people. A lot of times these cases move very, very slow.
It’s also dependent on the facts associated with your case. How in depth is it? What was the actual deviation from the standard of care that is being addressed? You want to sit and talk with your lawyer. As you sit with that lawyer and map out the facts of your case and what’s going to be needed to successfully pursue those claims, he can give you a better idea – and again, it’s just an idea – of the amount of time that it will take to get through each phase of the case. You have to avoid letting anxiety get the best of you.
These cases take some time to get through court, but any wise lawyer will not make knee-jerk decisions and dismiss the case too early to where the value is diminished. They certainly won’t drag the case along and kick the can down the road because they understand that it’s you, the client, that has had to deal with this deviation from the standard of care. Have that talk with your lawyer. They’ll be able to help give you an idea of what it takes here in Arizona, as far as the time frame, to pursue the claims of your medical malpractice case.
3) Common Mistakes to Avoid
When you’re dealing with a medical malpractice case here in Arizona, because of the complexity of these cases and the detailed nature of them and the professional areas of medical practice that you could be dealing with (oncology or gastroenterology, for example), there are a number of mistakes you can make. One of the most common mistakes is not going to follow up appointments. If there are independent medical examinations that are ordered by the court or requested by an opposing party as a part of the litigation, don’t take those things lightly. You’re going to need all of your medical records going years back.
Another common mistake we see clients make is not taking this stuff seriously. We get it. It’s an arduous process. People are prying into your personal business, learning about medical issues that you may have had that are not even relevant to the case that you’re pursuing the medical malpractice claims for, but you have to endure that process and not tire out. Take all of your appointments seriously. Get all of your records, all of your bills. You can’t come along 30, 60, or 90 days after the case has settled or a verdict has been given to you by a jury and say, “Oh, wait, I forgot this $90,000 helicopter bill.” That’s really not going to work in your favor, so get all of your medical records, all of your medical bills. Get all of the information that is requested by your attorney and by the opposing attorney to make sure that we have a complete picture of what has happened to you, so we can determine what the deviation from the standard of care was, what was done compared to what should have been done, so that we can get this information to the experts that will be necessary.
Take the process seriously. I get it. It’s a slow process and you want it to be over quickly, but, again, don’t make the mistake of not taking the gathering and the collection of information seriously as it relates to your medical malpractice case here in Arizona. Our statutes demand that these records be turned over within a certain number of days after the complaint and the response is filed. You really have to be on top of this stuff so that you don’t lose any of your claims. Talk with your attorney.
4) Case Value
In valuing a medical malpractice case, most of the time our clients come in and they say, “There’s this doctor who I know has a lot of money and he has a lot of insurance, and I’m shooting for the stars!” We get it. In some cases, we agree with that you do deserve the sun, the moon, and the stars and sometimes even more than that, but the fact of the matter is that there is a framework in determining the value of your medical malpractice case here in the state of Arizona.
There are several factors that we look at. What actually happened? What was the deviation of the standard of care? Has this doctor done this before? Is there a merit to pursue punitive damages as it relates to this? What corrective treatments did you have to undergo to fix what the doctor did wrong? Is it going to require future treatment? Did you miss time from work, loss of consortium? Can the error be fixed? How much emotional trauma did you experience as a result of this deviation from the standard of care?
You’ll have this candid open dialogue with your lawyer when you sit and talk with them. We’ll discuss all of these issues. The value may change, if you’re still being treated, and as time goes along. We’ll discover all of these facts with you, put them in a pot, and you’ll work collectively with your attorney to determine the value of the case, the amount that we’re going to pursue that’s representative of the injuries that you have sustained and the deviation from the standard of care. Be prepared to have that candid conversation about your medical malpractice case.
Did you or a loved one get injured from the negligence of a doctor in Arizona and have questions about medical malpractice case expectations? Contact experienced Phoenix Medical Malpractice Attorneys at Smith & Green today for a legal consultation.
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