Medical malpractice is a complex area of law. The science underlying claims of medical negligence can make it difficult for patients to prove (a) that an error occurred and (b) that the error resulted in injury.
However, perhaps the more serious obstacle to recovering fair compensation for medical malpractice is the aggressive defence mounted on behalf of doctors. The Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA) is the leading defence organization for doctors facing claims of malpractice.
Given the litigation challenges posed by the CMPA, it is important to work with an experienced Vancouver medical malpractice lawyer. Contact Klein Lawyers today for a free case review.
What Does the CMPA Do?
The CMPA is a mutual defence organization. In exchange for annual fees, members have access to legal representation if they are sued for medical malpractice or face other legal issues and complaints.
In handling legal matters, the CMPA advances costs on behalf of member physicians. The organization is well-funded, creating a significant disadvantage for individual lawyers and smaller law firms (as well as their clients).
The CMPA handles claims differently than insurance companies. Rather than focusing on risk management and keeping costs down, the CMPA assesses whether or not the case is defensible (i.e., that the relevant standard of care was met and/or that the injury was not caused by the defendant’s actions/inaction). If the experts for the CMPA determine that the case can be defended, a fair and early settlement is unlikely.
Many patients with meritorious medical malpractice claims are forced to wait years as their cases make their way through the courts – even when errors are apparent and there is little to no doubt that negligence was a factor. CBC reports that up to one-half of the lawsuits patients file against doctors are dropped before proceeding to trial.
Can I Win a Medical Malpractice Claim?
The odds may seem stacked against claimants in medical malpractice litigation. In some respects, they are; negligence on the part of a doctor or other provider can be difficult to prove, and causation of the injury requires thorough investigation and analysis.
However, patients have rights if they are harmed by substandard medical care. Crucial steps you can take to protect your rights and improve the likelihood of a fair settlement or favourable outcome at trial in a medical malpractice case include:
1. Document All Aspects of Care
As you receive diagnosis and treatment for an injury or illness, it is important to keep track of your care. Document the doctor(s) you see, the facilities you visit, test results, medications and treatments you are prescribed, etc.
If you begin to experience complications or adverse effects during the course of treatment, seek medical attention promptly. Keep the same types of records concerning new diagnoses, treatments, and more.
Thorough documentation is crucial for establishing proof of medical negligence. A medical malpractice lawyer will review your notes and obtain your full medical records from the provider to determine how your injuries may have occurred.
2. Track Your Symptoms
Patients often receive substandard medical care without realizing it. Only after they suffer side effects or their health declines do they begin to realize that an error on the doctor’s part may have caused them harm.
The symptoms you experience as a result of medical malpractice will depend on the nature of the error and how it affects your health. Potential signs of medical errors include:
- Worsening health conditions
- Injuries that don’t heal properly
- Fever, chills, trouble breathing, and other symptoms of infection
- Diminished use of affected body part
- Pain at the site of treatment
Document any pain, immobility, infection, and other negative effects you experience from the adverse outcome. You should also keep track of the time you have to take off work.
Victims who suffer catastrophic injuries or the loss of a family member as a result of medical malpractice may be entitled to significant compensation. However, the evidence must support your claim for you to recover damages. An experienced lawyer can assess all of the ways medical malpractice has affected your life and consult expert witnesses to build a strong case on your behalf.
3. Record Your Damages
Damages is the legal term for the losses you suffer as a result of another’s negligence. Economic and non-economic damages are recoverable in medical malpractice claims, but you must be able to provide evidence of your losses.
Damages you may be able to claim for medical malpractice include:
- Expenses for medical treatment related to the injury
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity (if your condition prevents you from working)
- Costs associated with long-term and home-based care
- Pain and suffering
Given the potential for costly, life-altering harm that may proceed from medical negligence, the damages in a malpractice claim are often substantial. Unfortunately, this is one of the main reasons that healthcare institutions, insurers, the CMPA, and other organizations fight medical malpractice claims so vigorously.
A medical malpractice settlement or trial judgment in your favour can make the difference between receiving the financial compensation you need to cover the costs associated with your injuries and being left to handle the aftermath on your own. It is crucial to work with an experienced lawyer who can represent you in settlement negotiations and take your case to court if necessary.
Overcoming the Challenges of a Medical Malpractice Claim
The difficulties of litigation combined with the intervention of powerful groups like the Canadian Medical Protective Association make it challenging for patients who have been mistreated to recover the compensation they deserve. If you suffered serious injury or lost a loved one due to a medical error, it is important to contact a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.
Klein Lawyers has extensive experience with complex litigation. Our team has the knowledge, resources, and dedication to success to represent you effectively in legal actions against negligent doctors and other healthcare providers.
Please contact Klein Lawyers by calling (604) 874-7171 today for a free case review. Our Vancouver medical malpractice lawyers serve clients throughout British Columbia, including Abbotsford, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Langley, Surrey, and other areas.