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Guide to Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim in Washington State

Colburn Law

Medical malpractice occurs when a patient sustains an injury caused by some form of negligence on the part of a medical practitioner. This negligence typically falls under one of several different categories: misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, deviation from predetermined treatment/surgery, or lack of sanitation (causing infection). Medical malpractice falls under a form of personal injury that for which you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit in Seattle.

What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?

A patient has grounds to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit if your case satisfies the following conditions:

  • The health care provider had a duty to provide a certain standard of care, ensuring the safety and well-being of their patient.
  • The health care provider failed to meet their duty to provide this standard of care.
  • This breach in duty directly caused some form of injury to the patient.
  • The patient sustained verifiable injury.

Comparative Negligence

Washington state’s negligence law exercises comparative negligence. This means the court will assign each party a percentage of fault in the incident. Even if you do possess a small percentage of fault in a medical malpractice lawsuit, you can still file a claim and receive compensation. The court simply multiplies the total compensation with your percentage of fault and subtract that from your award.

The Legal Process

Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit requires adhering to all associated processes to a tee. It is essential to hire a skilled attorney to help cover all bases when filing for medical malpractice. Follow the necessary steps to ensure the success of your claim.

  • Treat Your Injuries. Seek a different doctor to assess and treat the injuries caused by medical malpractice. This creates solid documentation of your physical damages via your medical records. After treatment, obtain a copy of your medical records to use as evidence in the case that you do file a claim. Delivering your medical records to your attorney as soon as possible allows them to quickly seek medical opinions from other professionals and expert witnesses. Depending on what these sources advise, your attorney may not advise you to bring the practitioner to court.
  • Notify insurance companies or the practitioner’s workplace/hospital that you are preparing to file a suit. Sometimes, your insurance company and/or the hospital where the malpractice took place will agree to settlement negotiations. If both parties agree on a fair settlement, this removes the need to go to court.
  • Draft and file your claim. With the help of your attorney, file your medical malpractice lawsuit.
  • Attend mediation. Washington state requires mandatory mediation for any claim that involves health care. This additional step allows for a potential settlement before addressing the claim in court. One important aspect of both mediation and trial is retaining proof that malpractice has indeed occurred. The most effective way to address the negligent practices of a medical professional is through an expert witness, which will support your claim that the defendant deviated from their standard of care. Even in mediation, it is crucial to have all of your evidence at hand.

Statute of Limitations

Each state possesses a statute of limitations that determines how long you have to file a personal injury complaint. In Washington state, this limit is three years. Mediation also comes with a statute of limitations: one year. This dictates that a claimant attend mediation within one year from the date they filed their claim. If a minor wishes to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, they can do so within one year after their 18th birthday.

Medical malpractice cases require professional consult to prevent any hitches in the claims process. Making one small mistake can result in the dismissal in your case. Find a skilled and local personal injury attorney and they will educate you on the ins and outs of medical malpractice lawsuits.