When you think of medical malpractice, often what comes to mind is something going wrong in the treatment of a medical condition or emergency, perhaps a botched surgery or the wrong prescription. However, one of the most devastating medical malpractices can be a failure to diagnose a severe illness.
Early diagnosis can save lives, as well as medical costs, since treatment will be easier the sooner the illness or condition is caught. However, the longer you go without diagnosis, the more your illness or condition festers. The result could be critical, occasionally even fatal.
When you or someone you love suffers due to a failure of your doctor to diagnose your condition, you may be entitled to financial compensation. But what happens in a failure to diagnose lawsuit?
Steps for a Legal Claim of Failure to Diagnose
A failure to diagnose lawsuit — also called a misdiagnosis lawsuit, or wrongful diagnosis lawsuit — occurs when you sue a medical professional for a failure to diagnose a medical condition, or a failure to diagnose it correctly. However, your case needs to be solid if you hope to receive compensation. A medical malpractice lawyer can help ensure that you have a strong case by taking these steps.
Establish Your Case for a Successful Lawsuit
The most important thing for a failure to diagnose lawyer to prove is that the medical professional failed to diagnose an illness or condition that could have been caught earlier, and that you suffered as a result. There are a few things that need to be established in order to prove this.
A Doctor-Patient Relationship Existed
First, it must be shown that you had a doctor-patient relationship with the defendant. Medical records can establish that the doctor treated you and that you came to them with concerns about your health. Without proof that a doctor-patient relationship existed, the defendant might try to claim that they did not treat you and therefore would not have been able to diagnose your illness or condition.
There was a Negligent Failure to Diagnose a Medical Condition
Some medical conditions are difficult to spot even for trained professionals. It may be that a condition was not diagnosed in a timely fashion because some symptoms were not understood due to many similar conditions, or because little is known about the condition. To build a solid failure to diagnose lawsuit case, it must be shown that the failure to diagnose was the result of negligence. The doctor could have diagnosed the condition sooner, but failed to pay proper attention or take your symptoms seriously.
Actual Harm was Caused as a Result of the Failure to Diagnose
As stated above, the sooner you diagnose a medical condition, the sooner you can treat it. Your case must also prove that because your condition was not diagnosed, or was misdiagnosed, your health suffered. Perhaps your condition progressed far further than it should have. Perhaps a loved one became terminally ill with a condition that might have been survivable had they been diagnosed sooner. It’s not enough to prove that there was a negligent failure to diagnose. The impact must also be shown.
Gathering Evidence During Discovery
In discovery, your medical malpractice lawyer can request documents and statements that would serve as evidence for your case. There are a few elements included in discovery: interrogatories, requests for production of documents, depositions, and requests for admission.
Interrogatories establish the questions that your attorney wants the other party to answer under oath, laying them out in one document. Depositions, on the other hand, involve speaking to witnesses and defendants in a recorded face-to-face conversation. Requests for production of documents may include medical records, billing records, history of the defendant’s employment (including any relevant medical malpractice suits), and more. Finally, in requests for admission your attorney will ask the defendant to admit, under oath, whether or not certain evidence is true.
Expert Witnesses Testify
Your medical malpractice lawyer will then find expert witnesses who can speak to the nature of your medical condition. These witnesses may be able to speak to the progression of your condition, and confirm that a failure to diagnose the condition early can result in devastating consequences to the patient. Typically, these expert witnesses are other doctors who specialize in your medical condition.
These witnesses may provide affidavits of their opinion or may be interviewed in a deposition. In a trial, witnesses may take the stand to testify. Defendants may call their own expert witnesses, and your attorney will have their own questions prepared for these witnesses. The court will consider the opinions of these expert witnesses in determining the best way to rule in the case or settle.
Reaching a Settlement Amount or Verdict
When you file a lawsuit, your complaint should include a number that you propose to receive in financial compensation. However, this may not be the amount you receive at the end of the lawsuit. In many cases, parties agree to settle for a particular amount rather than take the case to court. The defendant will propose an amount to offer as compensation. If you are satisfied with that number, your attorney will settle the case for you.
If, however, you wish to take the case to court, the judge will hear all the information and reach a verdict. They may rule that the defendant has to pay the entire amount you requested, a portion of the amount, or they may dismiss the case. However, if you and your attorney have created a solid case with proof that you suffered as a result of your doctor’s negligent failure to diagnose, you should be awarded some compensation.
Hire a Medical Malpractice Attorney to Claim Compensation for Damages
If you or a loved one has suffered due to a failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis, The Moore Law Firm has medical malpractice lawyers for you. We will help you file and build a strong medical malpractice case, and will fight for your rights until you receive compensation. Contact us today to learn more or to set up a free consultation.