According to the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys (ABPLA), “Medical malpractice occurs when a hospital, doctor, or other health care professional, through a negligent act or omission, causes an injury to a patient.” Medical malpractice cases are often more complex than other types of personal injury claims because medical malpractice insurers are often more aggressive than traditional insurers. Because of this, it’s often difficult to negotiate settlements in medical malpractice cases without formal litigation. So before you begin, check out our tips for negotiating medical malpractice settlements.
Tips for Negotiating Medical Malpractice Settlements
Proving Negligence and Causation
Before you begin negotiating a potential medical malpractice claim, you will first need to have evidence to show that the doctor or other medical professional was negligent and that his or her negligence caused your injuries. Doctors are expected to act with the standard of care that other similar doctors in the area are expected to meet. To determine whether the doctor provided care that met the standard of a reasonably prudent doctor, you will likely have to get help from a medical expert. This person can review your medical records and issue an opinion about whether the doctor’s actions were negligent.
However, proving that the doctor was negligent is not enough. To have a valid claim, you will need to prove that the doctor’s negligence caused your injuries and losses. This can be more difficult than proving negligence. A patient who sought care for a medical condition might need to show that the condition was exacerbated or prolonged because of the doctor’s actions. In addition, other factors that may have contributed to your injury may come into play. Your attorney will need to fully analyze potential contributing factors to build a strong argument.
Valuing Your Claim
Once you have determined the doctor’s liability for your injuries, you will then need to value your claim. The value of your claim will include damages for the losses that you suffered because of the doctor’s malpractice, including the following:
- Losses for the worsened pain and suffering beyond what you would have experienced due to your underlying condition
- Lost wages caused by the doctor’s negligence
- Reductions in your ability to earn an income in the future
Negotiating a Medical Malpractice Settlement
To begin negotiating a settlement with a negligent doctor or an insurance company, you will need to notify the doctor and insurance company that you are filing a claim. Your attorney may advise that you send a demand letter to the doctor or his or her insurance company. Insurance companies typically require that doctors let them know about any claims. If they do not, coverage can be denied.
Most insurance companies require people to file lawsuits before they will engage in settlement negotiations. Typically, once you make a demand for a settlement, the insurance company will get involved. This means that you should expect your claim to be forced into a formal legal process.
After the doctor’s medical malpractice insurance company gets involved, you can start settlement negotiations. Even if the company wants to settle your claim, the doctor might want to reject your proposed settlement since states require that doctors report settlements for medical malpractice claims. Reporting a medical malpractice settlement can affect the doctor’s medical license and future career opportunities, and a settlement can also cause the doctor’s insurance rates to go up. Many times, a settlement will not be negotiated until after a complaint has been filed in court. Settlement negotiations can continue to occur throughout the legal process.
Get Help from the Law Offices of Craig L. Cook
Medical malpractice claims can be very complex, making the negotiations process difficult to navigate for most people. Hiring a medical malpractice lawyer may help you recover more compensation than if you try to negotiate a settlement on your own. Contact the Law Offices of Craig L. Cook today to learn more about your potential claim by calling us at 479-783-8000 or sending us a message online.