In the civil law arena, one of the most complex and challenging types of claims is a case involving malpractice. Attorneys that represent clients in malpractice cases tend to be specialists with a significant amount of experience. With that said, perhaps you made the decision to pursue a malpractice claim with no lawyer. If that is the case, you must understand the basics of how to process a malpractice claim without legal assistance.
Draft what is known as a "demand letter" to the doctor or other professional you believe is guilty of malpractice. In the demand letter you set forth the general nature of your claim, including the damages you suffered. Set forth the amount of money and other conditions you are willing to accept to settle the case. Set a specific deadline for the professional to satisfy the demand made in your letter. Advise that if the deadline is not met, you will take further legal action.
Notify the professional's malpractice insurance company of your claim. Although the professional should take this step on his own, you better protect your interests by making such a notification on your own. In most states professionals legally are required to provide a client with the name of their malpractice insurance carrier. If you fail in getting this information directly, the state licensing authority for a particular professional should have a record of her malpractice insurance carrier.
Deliver the demand letter to the professional in question. Either hand carry the demand letter to the professional's office or send it to him via United States mail, return receipt requested. You will need evidence to demonstrate that the demand letter was received by the professional or that you made your best efforts to deliver the letter to him.
Complete any claim forms that are provided to you by the malpractice insurance company. Attach a copy of the demand letter to the claim form.
Prepare a petition in civil court if the professional fails to reach a reasonable settlement with you. The petition is the court document that starts a lawsuit. The clerk of the court maintains both procedural guidelines as well as samples and forms for documents filed in a civil lawsuit, including a malpractice case.
File the completed petition with the clerk of the court.
Request the clerk to direct the sheriff's office to serve the petition and summons on the professional you contend is guilty of malpractice.
- If you decide to pursue through court a malpractice claim with no lawyer, keep in mind that you will be held to the same standards as an attorney. You need to fully comply with all aspects of the law in pursuing your claim.
- Review your state's code of civil procedure before you pursue a malpractice claim without the aid of an attorney. The code describes what is required both before and after a lawsuit is filed relating to a malpractice claim.
- "Malpractice;" Phil Taxman & Jann Robbins; 2009
- "Civil Procedure;" Stephen C. Yeazell; 2008
- LawsuitMalpractice.com: Lawsuit Malpractice Information