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When you see a doctor, you trust they know what they’re doing. You’re putting your well-being in their hands, relying on their knowledge and experience. But sometimes doctors make mistakes. Is this medical malpractice? And what can you to do about it? You can start by considering the four legal elements necessary for malpractice.

4 Legal Elements to Pursue a Medical Malpractice

The first element is that your doctor has a duty to meet the generally accepted standard of care. This means they must provide what any knowledgeable and experienced medical provider in the same field would consider reasonable care based on established medical evidence. Once you know what the standard of care for your medical condition is, you can consider the second element.

Did the doctor breach their duty through an action they took? This involves any mistake they made, but also something they failed to do. Prescribing the wrong medication can cause harm, but not prescribing the right one can as well. Failure to diagnose can lead to death. Unfortunately, a breach of duty is not always easy to prove.

A third element you must prove is that their breach of duty directly caused your injury. This requires extensive evidence, as you’ll need to prove that your injury couldn’t have another cause. Other medical conditions might be thought to play a role, as can your personal habits, but the court will want proof that it’s the doctor’s action that caused harm. 

Finally, the fourth element necessary is establishing that an injury occurred. The evidence you’ve gathered (medical records or otherwise) must make clear the precise nature of your injury. As you can see, there’s a lot of medical and legal knowledge needed to present your case. That’s why you’d want to work with an experienced medical malpractice attorney to help you through this process. In addition to these four elements, you’ll also have a limited amount of time to file your case.

doctor with arms crossed depicting a medical malpractice concern

Washington No Cap On Damages From Medical Malpractice

In Washington, there’s no cap on the damages you can win in medical malpractices cases, but the Statute of Limitations requires that you file within 3 years of your injury. However, if you don’t discover your injury until later, you’ll have one year from when you discover it to file. To do so, you must prove that you didn’t know and couldn’t be expected to have found out until you did. There’s also an absolute limit of filing medical malpractice cases within eight years, with few exceptions. Finally, the limitation will also be extended a year if you make a good-faith request for mediation.

Pursuing mediation prior to medical malpractice trials is required in Washington State. Mediation is meant to help each side come to a mutually satisfactory settlement agreement, and you aren’t required to accept any settlement the mediator proposes. The mediation process can only be bypassed in two ways. The first is if you’ve agreed with the provider to submit your medical malpractice claim to mandatory arbitration. The second is if the judge or mediator decides mediation is inappropriate and your case should go straight to trial. Ultimately, whether your case goes to mediation or a jury trial, you’ll want a good medical malpractice lawyer working for you.

Hiring a Medical Malpractice Lawyer

A medical malpractice attorney can piece together your medical records to clearly prove your injury and how your doctor caused it. They’ll also have expert witnesses review your records to show how your doctor failed to follow proper standards of care. The opinion of a credible outside expert will greatly strengthen your case. Your medical malpractice attorney will be at your side throughout the mediation process and will fight for you at court should your case goes to trial. No honest bodily injury attorney can guarantee that you’ll win. But by telling your story in such a way that it makes your suffering and its cause clear, you’re much more likely to get the settlement you deserve.

Medical malpractice cases may take a long time to resolve. They can be difficult to pursue on your own, and the thought of facing a mediation hearing or a trial can be daunting. We here at Park Chenaur and Associates have years of experience in fighting medical malpractice cases and know what it takes to strengthen yours. We will be at your side from your treatment and recovery all the way to mediation or trial if that’s what takes. A doctor’s error may stay with you for years to come. We’ll do whatever’s necessary to get you the settlement you deserve.

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