Suffering from medical malpractice is a life-altering and oftentimes devastating experience. If you believe that you are the victim of medical malpractice, you may desire to sue the doctor, hospital or other health care provider who harmed you. A medical malpractice suit is an extremely complicated type of lawsuit. However, as is the case with all other types of civil cases, you do have the legal right to bring such a case on your own and without legal representation. Initially, you need to understand how to file and start a medical malpractice suit on your own.
Obtain a medical assessment from a reputable physician that delineates the injury or damage you suffered as a result of the alleged medical malpractice. The assessment needs to be in writing.
Draft a demand letter to the health care provider you believe is guilty of malpractice. The laws in many states actually require that you make a reasonable effort to attempt to settle a medical malpractice claim before filing a lawsuit.
Set out in the demand letter the general facts surrounding your allegation of malpractice.
Make a specific demand setting forth the dollar amount you will accept from the health care provider in order to avoid undertaking further legal action.
Obtain from the court clerk in the county in which you reside a standard petition form. If the health care provider elects not to enter into a settlement with you and does not respond affirmatively to your demand, the next step is filing suit.
Complete the petition form. You insert information about the parties to the case (you and the health care provider) and the basic facts giving rise to your claim. You also itemize the injuries and damages you suffered because of the malpractice. These injuries and damages include such items as medical bills, lost wages, future medical expenses, as well as pain and suffering.
File the petition with the court clerk. The filing starts the court proceedings.
Request that the court clerk direct the sheriff to serve the petition on the health care provider you are suing.
- Keep in mind that if you pursue a medical malpractice case without legal representation, you will be held to the same standards as an attorney. Overall, a judge is going to hold you to the same standards of practice and procedure required of an experienced medical malpractice attorney. Therefore, if you make a mistake in preparing or proceeding with your case, you face sanctions from the court -- including a dismissal of your lawsuit.
- Although you legally can file your own medical malpractice suit, seriously consider hiring an attorney. There are lawyers who specialize specifically in medical malpractice cases. The state and local bar associations maintain directories of attorneys in different areas of practice, including medical malpractice. Contact information for these organizations is available through the American Bar Association.
- "Medical Malpractice Law and Litigation"; Beth Walston-Dunham; 2005
- "Medical Liability in a Nutshell"; Marcia Boumil, Clifford E. Elias & Diane Bissonette Moes; 2003
- Find Law: Medical Malpractice
- Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images