If you or a loved one suffered harm due to what you believe was negligent medical care, you may have no idea what the next steps are or what legal options are available to you. Most patients are initially unprepared to even consider a medical malpractice lawsuit because they never thought something like this would happen to them.
All of these reactions are normal, particularly when the medical outcome included serious injury or a loved one’s death. In these cases, you should first tend to whatever is immediately urgent, which could include follow-up medical care, taking time to heal or making arrangements for time off of work. When things have settled down a bit, you can then turn your attention to your legal matters.
To begin, you may wish to contact both the medical facility and the physician who treated you. This is an opportunity to ask questions about what went wrong and why. An adverse medical outcome is not always due to medical malpractice, so your doctor may have a seemingly reasonable explanation.
Oftentimes, however, physicians and hospitals are very reluctant to discuss details or admit wrongdoing because they fear liability if patients decide to sue. Therefore, you should be prepared for the possibility that these initial conversations won’t yield answers.
At this point, you may need and want to start pursuing legal options. If you believe that you or a loved one was a victim of medical malpractice, you should speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. He or she can then help you through the next steps of the process.
Depending on the details of your case, these steps could include:
- Seeking an independent medical opinion about your case from another provider
- Contacting the physician and hospital in order to assess options for an out-of-court settlement
- Contacting the relevant medical licensing board if the physician’s negligence was particularly egregious
- Preparing your case for trial if settlement is not an option or attempts at settlement were unsuccessful
Please remember that due to the statute of limitations in New Jersey, you generally have just two years in which to file a medical malpractice claim. This may seem like a long time, but in the wake of adverse medical outcome, life can rush by in a hurry. Therefore, please don’t wait too long to contact an attorney.