Generally, it is in your best interest to hire an attorney if you can. An attorney will know how to navigate the legal system, will know the substantive considerations for your lawsuit, and will take a significant amount of work off of your plate. However, if you cannot afford an attorney or, for other reasons, absolutely must file and prosecute your lawsuit on your own it is possible. You can find additional resources to help you through this process throughout our site at HG.org.
Medical malpractice among doctors is a serious issue nationwide. If you have been injured as a result of a serious medical mistake, you should seek legal consultation to discuss filing a medical malpractice claim against your doctor. Proving medical malpractice is not always easy and often requires the expert testimony of another health care provider, who must testify that medical negligence occurred in your case.
I was an RN and suffered serious and permanent harm from my cancer surgery. There were many errors, including my waking up during surgery, life-threatening infection, internal sutures that did not dissolve, renal failure, a collapsed lung after hospital discharge, abscesses and wound dehiscence. Years later, I am homebound and unable to work. I would be making $80-100,000/year now or more but am stuck barely above poverty on Social Security Disability. Since I and the various insurances have spent over $2 million for my care, and I do not have enough money to obtain all the care and medications I need, I am very unhappy. I have a potential new abscess now. It is a living horror, and the cancer may return. I am always in pain. No attorney would take my case. Even the failure to diagnose the cancer for years, with facts right there for every doctor I went to with my symptoms, isn't actionable. I am however, alive.
Car insurance policies that extend beyond personal injury protection (PIP) generally provide coverage for most types of damages, including pain and suffering claims. The two most common types of auto insurance coverage are bodily injury (BI) and uninsured/under-insured (UM) motorist coverage. Both BI and UM can be used to cover pain and suffering, but only up to the amount of the policy limits. Bodily injury coverage most commonly has two policy limits, or split limits.
Finding a qualified medical malpractice attorney can mean the difference between receiving compensation for your injuries and walking away empty-handed. An experienced attorney will be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your case and advise you on a course of action moving forward. Begin by using FindLaw's attorney directory to contact a medical malpractice attorney today.

This article is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this blog or any of the email links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the user or browser. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of any law firm or Psychology Today.

Patrick Malone, a Washington, D.C., attorney who has represented patients in medical malpractice lawsuits since 1985, said he triages cases to focus on those that resulted in permanent harm. That's necessary, he said, because of the time and emotional investment the patient will need to make to bring the case to trial, and because of his investment in the case.


More and more people in South Africa are taking their doctors and other healthcare professionals to court for medical malpractice – so much so that the increase in litigation is contributing to our high medical inflation. But you can’t take such action lightly: the legal process is fraught with pitfalls and can be very drawn out, and the costs can be high. You need to be sure of your case, and of all the hoops you’ll have to jump through, before pursuing a claim.
Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed by a doctor (or other medical professional) who fails to competently perform his or her medical duties. The rules about medical malpractice -- from when you must bring your lawsuit to whether you must notify the doctor ahead of time -- vary from state to state. But there are some general principals and broad categories of rules that apply to most medical malpractice cases. Here's an overview of the law and some of these special rules.
“I was very fortunate to have Richard Jaffe of Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP, represent me in my case. Throughout the entire process, Rich was professional, always explaining every detail of my case. He was available whether it was through a phone call, text or email. Not only was Rich an extreme professional but he also kept it personal, not making me feel like a case number. I would highly recommend Richard Jaffe, his firm and all of his staff to anyone seeking diligent and professional results.”
Sally was injured in a car accident. Her doctor ordered an MRI to see if she tore any ligaments or tendons, or ruptured a disk in her back. The cost of the MRI was $2,000. The doctor also ordered a CT scan to see if Sally’s internal organs were damaged. The cost of the scan was $1,500. When it comes time to settle her claim, Sally will be reimbursed $3,500 for these special damages.
When pursuing a claim against a doctor or hospital specifically, there may be “caps on damages.” This means that if a jury awards $10 million for pain and suffering in a medical malpractice case, a judge may be required by law to reduce that award to $250,000 or $500,000. These limits on non-economic damages vary from state and state, and will not always apply. Frequently catastrophic injuries, such as paralysis, brain injuries, or severe injuries to children, are allowed a higher limit. However, the caps do not generally apply to the portion of a monetary award meant for past and future medical care, lost income, or other financial losses.
Chris Archer, the chief executive of South African Private Practitioners Forum, says it is fashionable for health practitioners to blame lawyers for the increase in malpractice cases, but the working conditions of many health professionals also play a role. “Many health professionals work in solo practices or small partnerships without professional support or routine peer review. There is limited use of protocols and guidelines and little to no teamwork among private practitioners,” he says.
In this New York case, a forty-year-old woman believed she felt a small lump in her breast during a self-exam, and went to her doctor. She was referred for a mammogram and underwent one. The radiologist treating her looked at the scans, and believed she had a clogged milk duct and it would just go away with him. But this lump didn’t just go away. In fact, it continued to grow and, a little over a year after her diagnosis, she went to the doctor again. At this time she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
The keys are 1) establishing the medical standard of care, meaning the level of care that was appropriate under the circumstances, and 2) demonstrating how the defendant fell short of meeting that standard. And in almost all cases, you’ll need the help of a medical expert witness to help you establish these things. An experienced medical malpractice attorney will be part of a network of professionals -- doctors, consultants, medical experts who have served in a variety of cases, and other medical malpractice attorneys -- and will utilize this network to locate and hire the right medical expert for your case.
The above settlement calculator should be used for more minor injuries. If you suffered a catastrophic brain injury, wrongful death, or another serious injury, or were permanently disabled, then you should not use this injury settlement calculator. Instead, you should seek counsel with a personal injury lawyer to accurately determine the value of your case and calculate the correct insurance settlement.
Before you sue your doctor for medical malpractice, take some time to consider whether you believe your case meets the threshold for a medical malpractice claim. Did your doctor breach the medical standard of care and did that breach cause you to suffer damages? Be honest with yourself. But for your doctor’s breach of the standard of care, would your injuries have occurred? If your answers are “yes” and “no” to those questions, your case may have a shot. If you can allege, with expert support, that your doctor breached the standard of care, and but for his breach your injuries would not have occurred, your case will likely not be immediately dismissed.
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