The Anatomy of a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit: How it Works

Medical Malpractice Lawyer
April 14, 2023

The Anatomy of a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit: How it Works

Medical malpractice is a serious issue that affects patients and healthcare providers alike. When a patient is harmed due to the negligence of a medical professional, they may seek compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit. Medical malpractice claims are complex and can take years to resolve. This article will explore the anatomy of a medical malpractice lawsuit and how it works.

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What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Medical malpractice is a legal term used to describe a situation in which a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or nurse, fails to provide a patient with the appropriate standard of care, resulting in harm or injury to the patient. This can include:

  • misdiagnosis
  • surgical errors
  • medication errors
  • and other types of negligence.

Victims of medical malpractice may be entitled to compensation for their injuries, medical expenses, and other damages.

The Anatomy of a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit: How it Works

There are many essential steps to beginning a medical malpractice claim; let's review those.

Step 1: Consultation with a Medical Malpractice Lawyer

The first step in a medical malpractice lawsuit is for the patient or their family to consult with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. at Hinkle Law Firm. A medical malpractice attorney will review your medical records and determine if there is a case for medical malpractice. If we believe there is a case, we will begin to gather evidence to support the claim.

Step 2: Filing a Claim

Once your legal team has gathered enough evidence to support the medical malpractice claim, we will file a complaint with the court. The complaint will detail the allegations of medical malpractice and the damages you, the patient, have suffered as a result. The defendant, typically the medical professional, will be served with the complaint and will have a specified amount of time to respond.

Step 3: Discovery

Discovery is the process of exchanging information between the parties. Our medical malpractice lawyers will gather evidence to support their case during discovery, such as witness testimony and medical records. The defendant's attorney will do the same, and both parties may request depositions of witnesses or experts to gather more information.

Step 4: Pre-Trial Motions

After discovery is complete, both parties may file pre-trial motions. These motions may ask the court to dismiss the case or exclude evidence that the other party plans to present at trial. The court will rule on these motions before the trial begins.

Step 5: Settlement Negotiation

Before a trial begins, the parties may engage in settlement negotiations. A settlement is an agreement between the parties to resolve the case without going to trial. Settlement negotiations may occur at any point during the lawsuit but often occur after discovery is complete. We will notify you of all offers and you will decide whether to settle. Most cases settle.

Step 6: Trial (If a Settlement Can't Be Reached)

If the case does not settle, it will proceed to trial. The medical malpractice litigation will be presided over by a judge, and a jury will determine whether the medical provider was negligent and caused the patient harm. Both sides will present evidence and witnesses, and the jury will render a verdict.

Step 7: Appeals

If either party is unhappy with the verdict, they may file an appeal. An appeal is a request to a higher court to review the trial court's decision. The appellate court will review the trial record and determine if any errors in the trial affected the outcome.

How To Tell if You Have a Medical Malpractice Case

If you believe you have been a medical malpractice victim, you may wonder if you have a case.

The Standard of Care

The first step in determining if you have a medical malpractice case is understanding the standard of care. The standard of care refers to the level of care a reasonable and prudent healthcare provider would provide under similar circumstances. If your healthcare provider did not meet this standard, they may be liable for medical malpractice.

The Four Elements of Medical Malpractice

To have a successful medical malpractice case, you must prove four elements:

  1. Duty: The healthcare provider has a duty to provide care to you.
  2. Breach of Duty: The healthcare provider breached their duty by providing substandard care.
  3. Causation: The healthcare provider's breach of duty caused your injury or harm.
  4. Damages: You suffered damages due to the healthcare provider's breach of duty.

You may have a medical malpractice case if you can prove all four elements.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations is the time limit in which a medical malpractice case must be filed. The time limit varies by state and can range from one to six years. It is essential to consult with an attorney as soon as possible to ensure your case is filed within the statute of limitations.

What Kinds of Damages Can I Pursue in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

You can pursue many types of damages in a medical malpractice claim. Some of those are:

Economic Damages

Economic damages are losses that arise from an injury or harm to another’s property, business, or finances. Economic damages include:

  • Past medical bills (related to the incident)
  • Future medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • and lost income

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are types of damages in personal injury cases that cannot be quantified or measured. These include:

  • pain and suffering
  • emotional distress
  • inconvenience
  • destruction of one's quality of life
  • scarring or disfigurement

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are legal damages that a court will award to punish the wrongdoer for egregious misconduct or to set an example for other potential violators. They are generally in addition to any other compensatory damages that were awarded.

Special Damages

Special damages, also known as consequential damages, do not occur directly from a breach but are considered a consequence of that breach. They include economic losses such as lost profits or the cost of repair or replacement. They may also include other losses, such as emotional distress due to the breach.

Different Types of Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is a serious issue that can lead to devastating patient injuries. While healthcare providers are expected to provide the highest level of care, mistakes can happen. Unfortunately, these mistakes can lead to injuries or infections that can have long-lasting consequences. Here are some common injuries from medical malpractice that patients should be aware of:


Misdiagnosis is one of the most common types of medical malpractice. This occurs when a healthcare provider fails to diagnose a patient’s condition or provides an incorrect diagnosis. A misdiagnosis can lead to delayed, incorrect, or no treatment. This can result in the patient’s condition worsening or even becoming fatal.

Surgical Errors

Surgical errors are another common type of medical malpractice. These errors include incorrect incisions, leaving surgical instruments inside the patient, or performing the wrong procedure. Surgical errors can cause serious injuries such as infection, internal bleeding, or paralysis.

Medication Errors

Medication errors occur when a healthcare provider prescribes the wrong medication or dosage. These errors can lead to adverse reactions, allergies, or even death. Medication errors can also occur when a healthcare provider fails to monitor a patient’s medication regimen.

Birth Injuries

Birth injuries can occur during labor and delivery. These injuries can be caused by a healthcare provider’s negligence, such as failing to monitor the fetal heart rate or using improper delivery techniques. Birth injuries can lead to serious conditions such as cerebral palsy or Erb’s palsy.

Anesthesia Errors

Anesthesia errors can occur during surgery or other medical procedures that require anesthesia. These errors can include administering too much or too little anesthesia, failing to monitor the patient’s vital signs, or administering the wrong type of anesthesia. Anesthesia errors can cause serious injuries such as brain damage, heart attack, or death.

Contact Hinkle Law Firm for Your Medical Malpractice Claim

Medical malpractice can lead to severe injuries that can have long-lasting consequences for patients. If you believe you have been the victim of medical malpractice, seeking legal advice from a qualified attorney is essential. They can help you understand your legal rights and pursue compensation for your injuries. Remember, healthcare providers have a duty to provide a high standard of care; if they fail to do so, they should be held accountable. Reach out and check out our blog on how to pick a good doctor.

Need legal assistance?

Call us at (850)205-2055 24/7 to arrange to speak with a personal injury lawyer about your case, or contact us through the website today.


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