There are many misunderstandings that people commonly hold about medical malpractice claims. For instance, many of them believe that medical malpractice means having been put at risk by a doctor. This isn’t necessarily the case. If, for example, a doctor gave you a treatment and you decide after the fact that you weren’t comfortable with the level of risk involved, that isn’t malpractice.
In order for something to rise to the level of physician malpractice, actual harm must have been suffered. A doctor who was rude, inconsiderate or who gave you a treatment that was painful or entailed a long recovery is not necessarily vulnerable to a medical malpractice claim. The doctor must have been negligent, in some regard, for the claim to be valid. If this is the case, the doctor could potentially be sued for malpractice.
Negligence in medicine harms people because of an action or because a particular action wasn’t taken. This is not the same thing as saying a physician is incompetent or that they acted in an incompetent way in any regard. It means that they didn’t hold up to their duties, as defined by the law, to their patients. The patient must have actually suffered as a result of this negligence, as well. The patient cannot have simply been scared that they could have been injured or indignant because they felt like they weren’t treated with enough compassion. In order to have been negligent, a doctor must have done real harm to the patient. This is quantified by the attorney in terms of pain and suffering and in terms of the actual medical expenses, lost wages and other direct expenses that stemmed from the negligence.
Medical malpractice claims can be pursued with or without paying legal fees upfront. Some malpractice law firms will work on a contingency arrangement, which allows you to pursue the case at no upfront fee. This arrangement also ensures that the fees you do incur are only paid if you actually win the claim. Attorneys who take cases on contingency, obviously, expect to win them, which provides some peace of mind to their clients.
There is, however, no way to determine whether or not a case will win before it is heard in court. If a jury decides in your favor, you may receive all or some of the award you’re seeking. The insurance company may wish to settle out of court, as well.