Once you have figured out what kind of case you have, you will need to prepare your documents and file your lawsuit. Sometimes you can obtain forms for your lawsuit from either the clerk of court or local law libraries, but not always. Similarly, legal aid groups may be able to help you complete your paperwork, evaluate your claims, and give you advice on what to file, where, and how much your filing fees will be. When your paperwork is ready you will need to file it with the clerk of court, pay a filing fee, and arrange to have a copy of the lawsuit and summons served on the other party. If you are unable to afford the filing fees, you can usually apply for indigent status and ask for a waiver of these fees.
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In a handful of states, the court sets (or at least can consider the reasonableness of) the percentage that a plaintiff’s medical malpractice lawyer can receive after a successful case. For example, in Arizona, either party may request that the court review the reasonableness of an attorney fee agreement in a medical malpractice case. And in Tennessee, the court itself sets the amount that the attorney will receive, and the lawyer's "cut" may not exceed 33 and 1/3 percent.
Failure to diagnose and misdiagnosis of an illness or injury are the basis of many medical malpractice lawsuits. Misdiagnosis on its own is not necessarily medical malpractice, and not all diagnostic errors give rise to a successful lawsuit. Even highly experienced and competent doctors make diagnostic errors. Instead, the misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose must result in improper medical care, delayed treatment, or no treatment, which in turn must result in a worsening of the patient's medical condition in order for the malpractice to be actionable.
Indeed, even the standard jury instruction does not provide the jurors with guidance in determining a figure. Abstract concepts, ambiguity and confusion are all defense tactics utilized by defense attorneys to dismantle your viable personal injury claim. This is why it becomes critical to open up to your attorney about the extent of your injuries and the complete impact that your injuries have had on your life.
The doctor was negligent. Just because you are unhappy with your treatment or results does not mean the doctor is liable for medical malpractice. The doctor must have been negligent in connection with your diagnosis or treatment. To sue for malpractice, you must be able to show that the doctor caused you harm in a way that a competent doctor, under the same circumstances, would not have. The doctor's care is not required to be the best possible, but simply "reasonably skillful and careful." Whether the doctor was reasonably skillful and careful is often at the heart of a medical malpractice claim. Almost all states require that the patient present a medical expert to discuss the appropriate medical standard of care and show how the defendant deviated from that standard.
Many people mistakenly choose to file medical malpractice lawsuits because they are unhappy with the results of their treatment. However, a poor result -- even death -- does not always equate to malpractice. Medicine is an inexact science. Even the most routine procedure can result in complications both foreseen and unforeseen. There are no guarantees that any treatment, no matter how commonplace, will be successful. As such, it is possible -- and even common when it comes to some procedures -- for doctors to do everything right and still fail to obtain a good result.