Medical malpractice is more common than you may realize.
If you suspect that your doctor, hospital, or health care provider’s negligence has caused you illness or injury — or if you suspect they have breached the appropriate standard of care — the steps you take from here on out could have a big impact on your future health, wellness, and financial wellbeing.
So what should you do if you suspect medical malpractice? Let’s begin by talking about one big thing you should not do, followed by five steps you’ll want to take as soon as possible.
Why You Shouldn’t Contact Your Health Care Provider About the Suspected Malpractice Until You Talk to an Attorney
Ordinarily, when you think something is off with your health or body, you ask your doctor about it. But if you suspect medical malpractice, that isn’t necessarily the best idea. Here’s why:
- Giving your providers a heads-up that you might have a medical malpractice claim gives them a chance to start planning a strategic defense before you’ve had a chance to start preparing a case of your own.
- Perhaps even more importantly, if you contact your health provider about suspected malpractice, a court might later decide that your initial contact constituted “presuit notice,” which affects how the statute of limitations (legal time limit) for filing your claim gets calculated. In other words, you could accidentally limit your time for taking legal action just by sending a letter.
If you are experiencing a possible medical emergency, call 911 right away. In the event of an emergency, what matters most is getting the care you need.
Not experiencing an emergency but wanting to learn more about your legal options? Still need non-emergency medical care? Here’s what you should do if you suspect medical malpractice.
Step 1: Begin to Gather Documentation
The sooner you begin to gather evidence and documentation, the better. This will help you relay your story to a medical malpractice lawyer (Step #2 below) and will be essential to building your case down the road. Examples of documents you might want to gather include:
- Your medical records
- A list of the dates + times for each doctor’s visit and medical procedure you’ve had relating to the suspected malpractice thus far
- Names of each physician, nurse, hospital, and medical clinic that might be involved (or that might have information relevant to your claim) — to the best of your ability
- Personal notes about what happened; why you suspect malpractice; and when any suspicious, unusual, or concerning symptoms began
- Lists of medication-related to your condition / copies of any prescriptions, if they are available
- Receipts for any out-of-pocket purchases or expenses you have incurred relating to your medical condition
- Copies of any medical bills or insurance statements (including Explanations of Benefits, or EOBs) you have received so far
- Photos or videos of your injury, wounds, or physical condition (if applicable)
- Contact information for any eyewitnesses
What should you do if you suspect medical malpractice but don’t have access to all of these documents? Don’t worry. An experienced California medical malpractice lawyer may be able to help you access any necessary information later.
Step 2: Contact a California Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Medical malpractice (“med-mal”) is one of the most challenging areas of civil law, and the rules for pursuing a med-mal claim in California are especially complex. This is not a claim you should try to handle on your own.
Most medical malpractice claims in California are ultimately filed against a hospital, physicians’ group, and / or liability insurance carrier. These are powerful companies. They have more experience and greater financial resources than you likely have on your own.
Moreover, because the rules for filing a medical malpractice claim in California are so cumbersome, it is extremely easy to make mistakes on your own.
The sooner you talk to an attorney, the better. Even if your case has not yet matured to the point that you are ready to take action, by getting an experienced personal injury attorney involved early on, you can get the foresight and guidance you need to keep your claim on the right track from the beginning. A Bakersfield, CA medical malpractice lawyer at The Law Offices of Mickey Fine can help.
Step 3: Get a New Doctor
While you should absolutely continue to receive medical care, continuing your relationship with your current doctor may be unwise. That goes for any doctor or health care provider who is affiliated with (or personally associated with) the provider you suspect of medical malpractice — including any doctor or provider who is employed by the same hospital, physician’s group, clinic, or company.
Your medical malpractice lawyer might be able to help you find an appropriate health care provider in your area (and may also be able to arrange for referrals if necessary).
Step 4: Stay Off Social Media
What should you do if you suspect medical malpractice? Stay off Facebook and Twitter!
The less you post on social media, the better. Above all else, avoid posting anything about your health condition, medical treatments, or the suspected medical malpractice.
You should also take care not to post photos that might be misconstrued as contradicting your allegations. The same goes for activity updates, location “check-ins,” or any posts / pictures that your friends might tag you in.
Your California medical malpractice lawyer may advise you to stay off social media altogether. If that’s not possible, he or she will help you understand best practices for engaging in online activity during the life of your claim. Privacy settings are not enough. The hospitals and insurance companies will try very hard to access your social media, and they are very good at it.
For that matter, avoid talking about the suspected malpractice with friends, co-workers, or family members.
Step 5: Keep a Journal
You might be surprised by how quickly your various doctor’s appointments, symptoms, and procedures start to “run together” in your memory.
Maintaining a detailed daily medical journal can help you keep a tight record of your:
- Doctor’s visits
- Tests & imaging
- Important conversations
- And so on.
This journal can be helpful to you as both a patient and a client. It can be helpful to your lawyers as they work to build your case. And in some situations, the journal may even be able to serve as evidence itself.
Do You Suspect Medical Malpractice? The Law Offices of Mickey Fine Will Work to Protect Your Best Interests.
If you believe that you may be the victim of medical malpractice in California, we encourage you to contact our office right away. Even if you don’t have all the documentation together just yet, please give us a call or contact us online.
The Law Offices of Mickey Fine will fight for a full and fair resolution of your claim. To learn more about your rights and options, contact our office and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. An experienced Bakersfield, CA medical malpractice lawyer is standing by.
Time limits do apply to medical malpractice in California, so please don’t delay. Call 661-333-3333 in Bakersfield (or 310-546-8146 in Manhattan Beach, CA) to speak with a California medical malpractice lawyer today, or contact us online as soon as possible.
We will never charge a fee for our services unless we get you money first. The initial consultation is absolutely free.