Suffering harm at the hands of a healthcare provider can be traumatic on many levels. The experience not only impacts your health but often your finances, emotions, and future as well.
In such challenging circumstances, it’s natural to want to hold negligent parties accountable through a medical malpractice or personal injury lawsuit. However, patients risk making legal missteps that jeopardize their cases without the right guidance.
Avoiding common errors and acting strategically from the outset gives your case the greatest chance of success. Don’t go down the legal road alone—empower yourself to seek justice safely. This article outlines five of the most damaging mistakes you’ll want to steer clear of if considering a health-related lawsuit.
1. Failing to Thoroughly Research Your Legal Options
One common mistake plaintiffs make is not thoroughly researching their legal options before filing a health-related lawsuit. These types of cases can be highly complex, especially when dealing with specific injuries like birth trauma or cerebral palsy. Many plaintiffs end up choosing the wrong lawyer or firm, which jeopardizes the outcome.
It’s critical to take time upfront to carefully consider which attorneys have the right expertise and resources for your particular situation. For example, if exploring options related to brachial plexus injuries like Erb’s palsy, it is wise to seek out and vet erbs palsy law firms that focus specifically on birth trauma cases. Their specialized experience makes a significant difference from general personal injury firms.
Likewise, not all lawyers have access to respected medical experts who can accurately evaluate complex health records and provide credible testimony. The right firm will have trusted relationships with doctors, nurses, physical therapists, vocational experts, economists, life care planners, and other specialists relevant to building a strong case.
Rushing into legal action without thoroughly researching reputable firms that are equipped to handle the nuances of your health-related lawsuit can sabotage your chances before you even begin. Taking time to make an informed choice gives you the best opportunity for a successful outcome.
2. Failing to Meet Important Deadlines
Health-related legal cases must adhere to strict statutes of limitations dictating the timeframe you have to take legal action. For medical malpractice, these limits can be as short as 1-3 years in some states. You forfeit your right to file a claim if you miss the deadline.
To avoid this catastrophic mistake, research your state’s statutes of limitations for health-related legal claims as soon as possible. Consult with an attorney to find out exactly when the clock starts ticking (often from the date of injury or date of discovery). The timeline varies based on factors like the specifics of your case and state laws.
Once you know your deadline, mark your calendar and set reminders to take prompt legal action within the prescribed timeframe. Create a clear plan for the steps you must accomplish, including finding an attorney, requesting medical records, and reviewing your case. Leave a buffer of several months to account for delays or setbacks.
Meeting legal time limits is non-negotiable, so prioritize organization and preparation. Create a timeline, keep impeccable records, and file your claim well in advance of the cut-off date. Rushing at the last minute risks mistakes that could throw your case out on a technicality. Take a proactive approach and avoid having your rights expire.
3. Being Too Emotional
The strong emotions surrounding medical negligence cases are understandable. However, allowing anger, bitterness, or an appetite for revenge to dominate your actions can undermine your progress.
Try to approach your health-related lawsuit pragmatically, focusing rationally on properly compensating your losses rather than punishing the other party. Stick to the facts of the case and avoid dramatic displays of emotion that could call your credibility into question.
Also, prepare for the likelihood that defendants will try to paint you as greedy, vindictive, or overly litigious. Do not let insults rile you up or provoke an outburst. Take the high road and let your reasonable actions speak for themselves.
During depositions, settlement talks, and court proceedings, keep calm even when recalling upsetting events. Judges and juries respond better to composed plaintiffs who seem trustworthy and focused on facts. Emotional outbursts can hurt your case regardless of how justified your feelings may be.
Having an experienced attorney as your spokesperson also helps keep things professional versus personal. Let your lawyer passionately argue the merits of your case while you thoughtfully describe how the incident affected your life. Justice is best served through level-headed, strategic action.
4. Accepting a Settlement Too Soon
Once you initiate a claim, the other party may quickly offer a settlement out of court. The amount may seem fair, causing you to want to accept it immediately. But don’t rush to settle too soon.
Consult with your lawyer first about whether the offer seems reasonable based on factors like case specifics, your losses and expenses, and verdict averages for similar cases. It may be best to decline the initial offer and hold out for a larger settlement as the case progresses. Don’t let an impulse for a quick resolution shortchange you.
It’s also unwise to settle before fully understanding the breadth of your losses and future costs. Your long-term health picture may still be uncertain. Settling too fast could fail to adequately cover all current and future expenses tied to the incident.
Settlements do offer benefits like faster resolution and avoiding court. But ensure the amount fully compensates present and future costs before signing an agreement. Don’t leave money on the table simply to put the issue behind you. Patience and persistence often lead to maximum recovery.
5. Being Uncooperative with Your Attorney
To build the strongest case possible, your attorney needs your full cooperation. Avoid making these mistakes that hinder your lawyer’s efforts:
- Withholding pertinent information related to the case ─ Even insignificant details could be useful to your lawyer. Disclose anything that could potentially relate to your claim. Let your attorney decide what’s relevant.
- Canceling meetings or showing up late ─ Reliability is key when litigation involves tight deadlines. Avoid postponing sessions or arriving late without notice. Your lawyer’s time is valuable. Keep a record of meetings and be punctual.
- Displaying hostility toward the legal team ─ You’ve placed trust in your attorney. Avoid taking frustration out on the person trying to help you. Voice concerns professionally and work constructively together.
Your lawyer is there to help you. Being communicative, organized, engaged, and collaborative improves your odds. Keep your attorney in the loop, provide requested items promptly, and maintain a constructive working relationship. With your full commitment and cooperation, your legal team can build maximum strength.
Going through a health-related lawsuit requires strategy, perseverance, and support. Avoiding common errors that other plaintiffs make can optimize your potential for a successful legal outcome.
Consult closely with your attorney, organize your evidence thoroughly, comply with deadlines, and care for your health needs throughout the process. With diligence and commitment, justice can be served.