If you've been seriously harmed by the medical system, here are the basics of filing a medical malpractice case in Washington, D.C. against the doctor, HMO or hospital that caused your injuries or serious medical condition. As experienced medical malpractice lawyers in D.C., we often give tips to help patients understand the process.
Investigating a medical malpractice case is a critical first step.
What does this mean? It usually starts with a review of all of your medical records - so make sure you get everything from the hospital you stayed at or the HMO or doctor's office where you were treated. Be persistent - many times they won't give you everything, and you need it all. Be prepared to pay a sizeable amount for the records if you were hospitalized for a long time.
Once we have all of the medical records (and this includes the actual images of MRIs, CTs, etc., not just the reports) we typically review and organize these with an experienced nurse and conduct medical research.
We do this to learn the case and to determine which medical specialties you will need to prove every aspect of the case. We also evaluate your future medical care needs and costs - will you need a nurse to assist you at night? Will you need to modify your home? Are there medications, tests, therapies that you will need for the rest of your life now?
Medical malpractice cases usually require experts in many different fields of medicine.
Once you've made the initial determination, organized and analyzed all of the records, you are ready to take the case to experts - we use doctors in different specialties who are referred to us by other doctors we have worked with as experts in the past.
These are critical meetings where you are reviewing the case with the experts or consultants who may later testify to prove your case. You need to give them all of the information you have, pay them for the time they are taking to review the matter, meeting with you and working with you. Most experts charge at least several hundred dollars per hour because they are taking time out of their successful practices to work with you.
Here's a tip: Don't use experts who just testify all the time. Find experts who have a thriving clinical practice or are engaged in teaching and research.
Filing your medical malpractice case.
Most medical malpractice cases involving a significant, life changing injury or condition won't settle without you filing a lawsuit against the hospital, doctor or HMO. Most of the time, in order to get full value and to pay for everything you need because of the malpractice, you have to show them you are ready, willing and able to take the case to trial.
That means you have expert witnesses ready to go, can finance the substantial litigation costs and know how to try the case (we do all of this for our clients, of course).
D.C. also has a notice provision just for medical malpractice cases. You will need to comply with the law and give the defendants 90 days notice before filing the lawsuit.
And you have to know the statute of limitations (usually 3 years, but there are exceptions - and for children the 3 years doesn't start until they turn 18).
If you or someone in your family has a catastrophic injury caused by medical care, you should be able to focus on getting the care you or your family member needs. You shouldn't have to worry about how you are going to file, litigate and finance your medical malpractice case.
So call us to see how we can help you. But don't wait. Find out how we can help.