We have certain expectations about life that are usually met. We expect that the buses will run on time, and that we’ll get paid on the 1st and 15th of the month. If we go out to eat a restaurant, we can generally expect for the food to be prepared thoroughly and safe to eat, even if it’s not always as tasty as we’d like. We also expect a basic level of competence when we see a doctor. If we have to have surgery, we assume the doctor will perform it capably and fix whatever caused us to go under the knife. Unfortunately, that faith is not always rewarded. Occasionally, patients wake up from surgery to be told something besides, “Everything went well.” At worse, the patient may even be dealing with a bigger problem than the one he or she started with, and in situations like that, it’s fair to look for ways to hold the doctor or other medical professionals accountable for what went wrong.
You can’t watch an hour of daytime TV without seeing at least one ad for a medical malpractice lawyer, but those ads don’t do a very good job of explaining what medical malpractice is. That’s partly by design, as 30 or 60 second ads aren’t made for detailed explanations of torts. But you need a lot more than just “the doctor made a mistake” in order to have a medical malpractice case. Everybody makes mistakes at work, regardless of if they’re a sanitation worker or a trauma surgeon. Not every medical error is going to rise to the level of medical malpractice.
When something goes wrong in the operating room, a good hospital will let the patient know that an error occurred. It’s just cruel to keep someone in the dark, especially if that person is in pain because of the error. Some doctors are afraid that admitting they messed up makes a lawsuit more likely, but it may actually do the opposite. Most patients aren’t looking for a reason to sue; they just want someone to acknowledge what happened and work hard to fix it. If you’re a patient who was the victim of a screw-up, and if you feel like the people responsible are trying to dodge your calls, it’s fair to start looking for medical malpractice attorneys in your area. State laws vary wildly, so you want to make sure and get someone local. For example, if something went wrong at a hospital in Central New York, you’d want to do some research into Syracuse medical malpractice lawyers.
A good attorney will be able to meet with you for an hour or so, usually during a free or low-cost consultation, and then tell you whether or not you have a strong case. If he or she doesn’t think you have a case, there’s nothing wrong with getting a second or even third opinion, but at some point, you’ll need to accept the results and try your best to move on.
If you do have a case, then life might get more complicated for a while. Court cases can be exhausting and time-consuming even when the evidence is in your favor. If your quality of life was severely compromised by the medical error, you may have to deal with things like installing handicap tubs and hiring home health aides while the lawsuit continues. Things seem to move slower in court than they do in real life. Remember that your medical bills may be fully or partially covered if you win the lawsuit, or even if you just reach a settlement with the doctor and/or hospitals. Many cases settle before they reach trial. Keep in close contact with your attorney, but try to distract yourself with other things whenever possible.
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