What Documents Do Lawyers Require to File a Medical Malpractice Claim?

by | Published on Dec 20, 2019 | Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice occurs when patients are harmed or injured due to poor medical treatment or mistaken diagnosis from a medical provider such as a doctor, nurse, or any medical worker. Patients who have sustained an injury due to a physician’s negligence may be eligible for compensation. A qualified and experienced lawyer can assist them in filing and winning a medical negligence case. Attorneys handling medical malpractice cases utilize medical record retrieval services to collect all the relevant medical records that are pertinent to the case.

A study by Johns Hopkins University has reported that more than 250,000 people in the U.S. die every year from medical errors and negligence, making medical malpractice the third leading cause of death in the United States. Some of the common medical malpractice cases are mistakes while monitoring the amount of anesthesia a patient needs, injuring a patient due to improper lifting techniques, poor diagnosis of a medical condition, prescribing wrong medications and more.

Strong evidence is required to win the case – evidence or medical records that can prove that the doctor was negligent with the patient’s diagnosis or treatment. It is also important to prove that it was this negligence that caused the injury and the injury led to further damages and harms such as additional medical bills or lost work. Medical malpractice lawyers will require these documents from patients to prove the physician’s negligence and to support the case. At the same time, a well-maintained and accurate medical chart can provide the greatest defense to the concerned doctor.

Copies of medical records

Medical records are usually the best evidence in a medical malpractice case. Attorneys will use the records to analyze the case in-depth, and also solicit medical opinions from doctors, nurses or other medical professionals who may serve as medical expert witnesses in the case. After a thorough review of those records, an attorney may even advise against filing a lawsuit. There are possibilities that these lawyers may opine that the plaintiff’s damages may not be the result of the healthcare provider’s medical negligence. Clear records will also help them determine if the lawsuit has a good chance of success.

Records that can be provided include prescription records; medical records before, during and after the incident;and mental health or other diagnostic records. Medical bills and receipts of any other out-of-pocket expenses related to this medical negligence that are not included in billing records can also be submitted to the lawyers to strengthen the case. These documents will help the attorney understand the extent of the claimant’s injury, and build the case for compensation.

Evidence for lost wages

If a patient loses his/her work and becomes unemployable due to injury from medical malpractice, they can bring proof of those lost wages to determine compensation. Proof for this that can be provided to attorneys include pay slips showing what they earned each month, tax returns or a statement from the employer showing the number of hours they worked each week and the expected wages for that missed time.

Affidavit of Merit

Some states require an Affidavit of Merit, when filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Nolo.com recommends that the affidavit must state three things: the expert signing the affidavit qualifies as an expert in the same medical field in which the defendant health care provider practices, the expert has reviewed the claimant’s case, and the expert is of the opinion that the case has merit – meaning that the defendant’s conduct fell short of the appropriate medical standard of care under the circumstances.

Based on the filing requirements in place in a particular state, a medical malpractice attorney will tell the patient or claimant whether an Affidavit of Merit is required in their case.

Insurance details

A copy of the claimant’s medical and disability insurance policy or certificate of coverage will help establish costs and eligible damages based on what insurers paid on behalf of the patient. Attorneys will also be aware of the provider and coverage limits.

Death certificate or autopsy report

In cases of a wrongful death due to medical errors, a death certificate should be provided to the attorney. Autopsy report should also be provided as soon as possible, if an autopsy was performed. Damages in a wrongful death claim may include medical treatment costs, funeral and burial charges, the deceased person’s pre-death “pain and suffering”, and loss of any inheritance as a result of the death.

By providing as much documentation as possible at the initial consultation, a victim can accelerate the claim and reduce the amount of time they have to wait for compensation. Based on the evidences collected, attorneys may also negotiate with the defense, outside of the courtroom, to help patients get the compensation they may be entitled to. If settlement negotiations fail, attorneys will be prepared to go to trial and present the case in the strongest possible form. Medical review companies support these attorneys to organize the various pertinent medical records and collect key points that are relevant for the case.

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