How to Sue a Hospital Without a Lawyer
How to Sue a Hospital Without a Lawyer
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How to Sue a Hospital Without a Lawyer
If you or your loved one has been injured due to a hospital's negligence, you may be able to sue them. The same applies if you lost a loved one at a hospital for a similar reason. Here's everything you need to know about filing a lawsuit against a hospital without a lawyer.
The most important thing you need to know is that you'll likely experience many challenges when you decide to proceed with such a lawsuit without an attorney. But before we discuss why you need an attorney, here's how to proceed without a lawyer.
The first thing you'll need to do is determine whether the hospital acted negligently. This might not be easy, even if the hospital's conduct was an obvious case of negligence. When it comes to personal injury law, what you think is negligence might not be considered as such from the legal perspective.
Then, you'll need to collect evidence against the hospital. Once you've done that, you'll need to fill out the relevant court documents to file the lawsuit. The hospital will be notified about the lawsuit filed against them and their right to respond. The court will then provide a date for the hearing, where both parties will present the case. The judge or jury will then make a ruling based on the arguments presented and what the law says.
It's important to note that this is just an overview of how this process works. The exact process depends on the jurisdiction.
Now let's discuss why it's advisable to contact an experienced attorney to handle this kind of lawsuit. To prove this point, we'll cover some of the challenges you should expect when you sue a hospital without a lawyer.
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How do You Identify the Liable Party?
Just because the incident happened at the hospital does not necessarily mean that the hospital is responsible. That's not how personal injury law works. When it comes to these kinds of cases, you must identify the parties that caused you harm. Therefore, making general assumptions isn't a great way to kick off the lawsuit.
In addition, more than one party might be responsible for your injuries. For instance, let's say you lost a loved one due to a doctor's negligence. In that case, you may be able to sue the doctor. In addition, you might also be able to sue the hospital if you discover that they did not follow the law when they hired that particular doctor.
If the hospital failed to conduct a background check on the doctor, you might be able to hold them responsible by filing a lawsuit. The argument is that the doctor shouldn't have worked at the hospital in the first place, but they did so because the hospital was negligent.
In addition, if the doctor is an independent contractor, you may not be able to sue the hospital. In that case, you may only sue the doctor. This is a classic example of an incident that occurs at a hospital but doesn't necessarily mean that the hospital is responsible.
What Important Paperwork do I Need to File?
A standard lawsuit involves a lot of paperwork. And when it comes to cases involving hospitals and medical professionals, the paperwork significantly increases. You'll need to document the incident and obtain copies of medical records and other relevant documents to help prove your case. Remember, each case is unique. For this reason, there's no one-fits-all approach to these cases.
You can't download a manual from the internet to guide you on proceeding with such a case. Hiring an attorney wouldn't be necessary if you could simply access a “how to sue a hospital” guide from the internet.
An experienced attorney will evaluate your case to determine the paperwork needed and ensure they're filed correctly. This includes but is not limited to medical records, receipts, court paperwork, etc.
How to Establish Whether Your Case is Valid?
Earlier, we mentioned that just because you or your loved one got injured at a hospital doesn't mean that the hospital is liable. Similarly, it doesn't mean that the medical practitioner is. In other words, this is usually not a case of “it's either the hospital or medical practitioner.”
On the contrary, none of them might be liable. That's a harsh reality you'll only find out later when you've already wasted a lot of time and energy pursuing the lawsuit.
In fact, before filing a lawsuit against a medical practitioner, most jurisdictions require that you have the case reviewed by experts. This is done to prevent the increasing number of invalid cases against medical practitioners. In such states, for the case to proceed to court, you must obtain a “Certificate of Merit” from a medical practitioner. This certificate proves that the individual or entity you want to sue was more likely than not negligent in handling you or your loved one, causing the injury or wrongful death.
The truth is, you'll encounter a lot of roadblocks along the way. However, this doesn't mean that having an attorney increases your chances of obtaining a Certificate of Merit. Rather, since attorneys are familiar with these kinds of cases, they'll let you know whether it is wise to proceed with the case, saving you a lot of time and money.
Suppose you have a valid case. The attorney will advise you on how to proceed, including where to obtain the Certificate of Merit if required.
How do You Keep Up With Important Deadlines?
You may have a valid case against a hospital, a medical practitioner, or even both. But if you don't keep up with important deadlines, you may not be able to sue them in court. These cases usually have different deadlines, varying from state to state.
For example, you have two years and six months to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in New York. In Washington, you have three years to bring such a lawsuit against a hospital or medical practitioner. In Texas, you only have two years to bring such a lawsuit.
While most people know about the statute of limitations, that's not usually the only deadline to be concerned about. Factors such as how long you took to seek medical attention when you realized or should have realized that you got injured will influence your claim.
Things get even more complicated when the lawsuit involves minors. In Texas, for example, when filing a lawsuit on behalf of a minor aged 12 years or below, you must do so before their 14th birthday. Since experienced attorneys understand these deadlines and how they apply to your specific case, you can always count on them to provide the best possible legal advice.
How Do You Collect Evidence Against the Liable Party?
You can't win a lawsuit without evidence. And when it comes to filing lawsuits against medical practitioners or hospitals, obtaining evidence is even more complicated. This isn't usually the same as filing a lawsuit following a car accident - all you may need to win such a suit is to seek medical attention, take pictures of the accident scene, interview witnesses, and file a lawsuit.
But things are different when it comes to medical malpractice lawsuits. You'll need a lot of resources to obtain evidence in these kinds of cases. Besides, the process is also time-consuming and complex. For example, you'll need to obtain an expert's opinion in order to prove that the other party more likely than not acted negligently towards you or your loved one.
Specifically, your case must meet all elements of a medical malpractice claim if you intend to sue a medical practitioner or hospital for malpractice. In that case, you must be able to prove that:
- The hospital or medical practitioner owed you a duty of care
- The hospital or medical practitioner breached this duty
- You were injured because of the breach of duty of care by the hospital or medical practitioner
- You suffered damages due to the injury
How Do You Finance the Case?
Let's say you have a valid case and are ready to pursue it without an attorney. In that case, you should be prepared to spend huge sums of money, sometimes more than the actual value of the case. One common topic that comes up whenever the issue of working with an attorney is discussed is the contingency fee structure.
Most personal injury attorneys charge their clients a contingency fee. In this arrangement, the attorney only gets paid if they win the case. If they don't win, they don't get paid. To compensate for the legal fees involved in pursuing the case, an attorney will deduct a portion of the settlement, usually between 30 and 40 percent.
While these fees might seem a lot on paper, they are reasonable. This is because a law firm like Morgan and Morgan has powerful legal resources to pursue such a lawsuit. They basically take all the risks from you and put them on themselves. If they don't win the case, they'll lose all the money they spent on it, and you won't need to pay them anything.
Now let's look at it from the other perspective. If you decide to proceed with the lawsuit without an attorney and lose, you will also lose all the money you invested in the case.
Additionally, you'll be restricted to a specific budget when you pursue the lawsuit without an attorney. This could mean missing the chance to obtain crucial evidence not because the evidence doesn't exist but simply because you can't afford the costs involved to pursue it.
How Do You Juggle Between Healing and Pursuing a Lawsuit?
When you've been injured by a negligent medical practitioner or hospital, you'll likely be in a lot of pain. As a result, you'll probably want to focus more on healing than keeping up with court dates when you have upcoming medical appointments to worry about. In fact, many people lose hope eventually because they can't juggle between healing and pursuing such lawsuits.
But you'll only focus on healing from your injuries when you have an attorney to represent you. The attorney will carry the other part of the burden and fight for you all the way.
Negotiating a Reasonable Settlement
Here comes the important part—the settlement offer. Without an attorney, you may not understand how much compensation you may be entitled to. Medical malpractice cases usually involve huge settlement amounts, but that's not something you expect the other party to inform you. Of course, this also depends on the specifics of your case.
An experienced attorney can help determine the settlement amount and also negotiate with the other party to ensure you receive what you need and deserve. If the other party is clearly liable for the injury, they'll likely want to settle out of court. You can trust your attorney to represent you during the negotiations, keeping your best interests at heart.
The bottom line is that you can sue a hospital without a lawyer. However, it's never worth the trouble.
If you feel that you have a valid case against a hospital or medical practitioner, we might be able to help. Fill out our free case evaluation form to get started.