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Medical Malpractice: First Steps of a Case

If you believe you've been injured or harmed because of a mistaken diagnosis or poor medical treatment, your initial decisions could shape any possible legal claims you may have.

The first steps in a medical malpractice case can be critical, so let's take a look at what you should do if you're thinking of filing a claim.

Contact the Doc

The absolute first thing you should do is contact the doctor or other medical professional involved in your treatment. What you need is an understanding the goal of the medical treatment, whether it was met, and, if not, why. This way, you'll know if your medical care (or lack thereof) constituted medical malpractice.

Contacting a medical professional about your condition will also help you determine if the problem is something that can be remedied. It's possible your medical providers could perform corrective services or provide an alternate solution.

Contact the Board

The medical licensing boards for each state govern the licenses for medical professionals. State boards can investigate claims of malpractice, issue warnings, and/or discipline medical practitioners.

Although the medical board can't handle your claim in court or force a professional or facility to compensate you, the board may be a resource for beginning your medical malpractice claim and may have further information on the medical professionals involved in your case.

Contact an Attorney

There are a couple more pieces of information you need before you can file a medical malpractice claim, both of which may require the help of an experienced medical malpractice lawyer.

First, you need to know how long you have to file your claim. This is called the statute of limitations, and each state has its own civil statute of limitations laws. Even if you have a valid medical malpractice claim, if you don't file it in a timely fashion, you may not be able to file it at all.

Second, you need to know whether your case has merit. This may involve contacting a medical expert and getting what is known as a "certificate of merit," which some states require before a medical malpractice claim can be filed.

Medical malpractice cases can be especially complicated, and a knowledgeable attorney can provide information about the process, help assess your claim, and, if necessary, represent your interests in court.

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