What Evidence Is Important in Medical Malpractice Cases?
Proving a medical malpractice lawsuit requires you to present strong evidence demonstrating that the care you received fell below the expected standard of care and caused you to suffer serious injuries and calculable losses. When you file a medical malpractice lawsuit, the quality of your evidence will be a factor in the size of the settlement you might be able to recover. It can be tedious and complicated to gather the right types of evidence to prove your claim. It will also be important for you to work with an experienced medical malpractice attorney at Raynes & Lawn who has a thorough understanding of the medical malpractice laws in Pennsylvania. If you believe that your injuries were caused by the negligence of your health care provider, you should reach out to an attorney for help with understanding the types of evidence you will need to prove your claim. We work closely with medical experts and can gather the medical records and other evidence that you might need to prevail. Here is some information about three important types of evidence in medical malpractice claims.
Phases of a Medical Malpractice Case
Even if you are dissatisfied with the treatment you received, that does not necessarily mean that what happened rises to the level of medical negligence. Because of this, there are three distinct phases involved with a medical malpractice claim, including an initial review phase. During this phase, your attorney will want to get your medical records and have a medical expert review them to determine whether the care you received fell below the standard of care and caused your injuries. If the attorney and the expert do not believe that you have a viable malpractice claim, you will be informed. However, if your lawyer believes that you were the victim of medical malpractice, he or she might agree to accept your case and file a lawsuit on your behalf.
Once a lawsuit is filed, and the defendant has had the chance to respond, the case will then move into the discovery phase. During this phase, both sides will be required to exchange the evidence that has been gathered. Depositions of the defendants and key witnesses will be conducted, and your attorney will get the opinions of qualified medical experts about what happened to you and the treatment provided by the doctor. Finally, your case will either be settled in pretrial negotiations or go to trial. If your case is tried, your lawyer will present evidence and testimony in court to support your claim. Here are the most important types of evidence that are necessary in medical malpractice cases.
Your Medical Records
The most important type of evidence in a medical malpractice case is your medical records. These can be extensive and include medication administration records, prescription records, nurses’ notes, doctors’ notes, diagnostic information, lab reports, treatment plans, discharge papers, and more. Your attorney can help you gather all of the relevant documents for your case.
How to Access Your Medical Records
Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, medical records are protected. However, you have the right to get copies of your medical records or to grant the authority to your attorney to secure them for you. Only certain parties are allowed to gain access to a patient’s medical records, including a child’s parent or guardian, an estate’s executor, the patient, or someone who has the patient’s written permission.
You cannot be charged a fee to get your medical records or have your request denied because you have unpaid medical bills. However, your medical provider can charge you a nominal cost to copy and mail your records to you.
You can generally get copies of your medical records by submitting a request in writing or completing a form. You can go to the medical office to get the form and request your records or ask the office to send it to you.
You can also write a letter to the office with your name, Social Security number, birth date, address, phone number, email, and a list of the records you are requesting. You will need to sign this letter and date it. Depending on your case, you might need to get copies of records from multiple providers, including your primary care doctor, pharmacist, specialist, hospital, lab, and others involved in your care.
Other Important Evidence
In addition to your medical records, there are other types of important evidence that you might need. Make sure to keep detailed records of every medical provider with whom you interacted during your treatment, including the names of nurses, doctors, administrators, technicians, and others. Write down everything you recall about each conversation with dates. Make sure to include the dates of each appointment or hospital stay. Your attorney can also help you understand the other types of evidence you might need to support your claim.
Expert Witness Testimony
Proving a medical malpractice case in Pennsylvania will require you to retain a medical expert. An expert witness can testify about the care you received, the fact that it failed to meet the expected standard of care, and the fact that it caused your injuries.
Articles from respected medical journals can help medical experts to assist you with your case. These types of articles help to show what the appropriate treatment in your situation should have been and how your treatment deviated from that standard. Medical literature is also helpful to medical malpractice lawyers when they cross-examine defense witnesses.
The evidence required to prove medical malpractice claims will necessitate a thorough understanding of medical terminology, the expected standard of care, and medical malpractice law. Your lawyer will also need to conduct extensive research and work closely with a medical expert. Because of the complexity of medical malpractice cases, it is not a good idea for victims to try to handle them on their own.
Talk to a Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Attorney
The attorneys at Raynes & Lawn have years of experience representing the victims of medical malpractice. We understand how to gather relevant types of evidence and can help you to get the documents needed to prove your case. To learn more, contact us for a free and confidential evaluation by calling us at 1-800-535-1797.
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