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Medical malpractice – Understanding an injured patient’s rights

An injury or harm due to medical malpractice can cause a lifetime of pain and suffering for those who are affected.

And with medical errors being the third leading cause of death in the United States, it’s important to know what your legal rights are in pursuing a claim.

Cleveland personal injury attorney Joseph T. Joseph, Jr. says if an individual suspects they have a medical malpractice claim, the first recommended step is to get a second opinion.

“It’s always good to get a second opinion if you feel the medical provider you go to has committed some sort of negligence or error,” he said. “If you ultimately may be pursuing a claim, the patient-physician relationship could be compromised, so getting a second opinion is always wise.”

If it then appears that the harm was a direct result of medical negligence, Joseph says it’s best to speak with an attorney.

“The main reason being that medical malpractice claims have a short statute of limitations in Ohio,” he said. “Getting an attorney right away is always advisable.”

How do I know I have a case?

When speaking with potential clients about a medical malpractice claim, Joseph first looks to whether or not that individual suffered a significant injury or harm.

“Medical malpractice cases tend to be very difficult and very expensive,” he said. “We have to discover if a severe or permanent injury took place, and if a subsequent claim makes it feasible to pursue.”

Next would be to consider the degree to which a doctor’s negligence was potentially the cause of the harm.

“Every medical procedure involves some degree of risk,” Joseph said. “We have to look if the harm came from a doctor’s error or if it was from an accepted complication of that procedure.”

And how is that done?

Experts or other medical providers in a specific area are hired to review the medical records and documents, and give an opinion on if there is a case.

Joseph believes this is why an injured victim should seek out an attorney immediately.

“An attorney will know who are those qualified experts that would be willing to review cases and give their opinion,” he said.

And with the high costs needed to hire experts for these cases, usually more than $10,000, sometimes the resulting injury or harm isn’t significant enough to make it financially feasible to pursue a claim. That’s not to discount or downplay a client’s injury. It’s just sometimes the costs of the case outweigh the amount of money that’s likely to be awarded in a claim.

There’s also a fine line between when malpractice occurred, and when harm or injury is a result of an accepted complication.

“It’s a delicate subject when I talk to potential clients,” Joseph said. “They know something bad happened to them, but you may have to advise them that it doesn’t seem to be a result of medical error.”

We’re happy to talk over any instances where a client believes there might be a claim. The best way to truly know is to consult an experienced attorney.

“When you’re looking at a medical negligence claim, you’re examining what medical records say, and the potential client’s story,” Joseph said. “It’s like putting together a puzzle and sometimes you don’t have all the pieces. It can be difficult to get a whole picture.”

Need to talk to an attorney about a possible medical malpractice claim? Call the Law Offices of Joseph T. Joseph today for a free consultation at 216-522-1600.

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