Medical negligence can be a very serious matter; in extreme cases, it could even result in the death of a patient. While these cases are rare, negligence does still happen and those affected by it may be entitled to compensation. If you're thinking of filing a negligence claim, only an attorney can advise on your case in particular, but note a few commonly asked questions about such a case. Discuss this information with an attorney if you still have more questions about your potential claim.
Does a patient need to be injured to file a negligence claim?
In most cases, the negligence of a doctor or healthcare practitioner must result in some type of injury or medical condition for there to be a claim filed against him or her. As an example, a doctor may send you home from the emergency room without properly stitching up a gash on your hand, but if your hand still heals on its own, you may not have a claim. These types of scenarios are referred to as a "near miss," meaning you could have suffered a resultant injury but didn't, and rarely can you file a claim for these.
That being said, never assume that you don't have an injury or your injury is not enough to file a negligence claim. An infection, scar, loss of motion, and other such factors may be considered as an injury; discuss the details with an attorney before deciding on your own that you didn't suffer an injury and have no claim.
How long does someone have to bring a claim?
The statute of limitations for medical negligence will vary in each area, and typically it's a few years for adults. However, it may be different for children who have been injured due to negligence and for disabled persons. To find out how the statue of limitations might apply in your case, discuss this with a local attorney.
Can family members file a claim after someone else dies due to negligence?
Immediate family members are able to file a claim if someone has died due to medical negligence, but note that it may be difficult to prove that a death resulted from this negligence. Your claim may also be limited to financial compensation for dependents and for emotional suffering that is not simply standard grieving. This shouldn't discourage you from pursuing such a claim; as said above, only an attorney can determine if you have a case for negligence, including if this negligence was potentially involved in a person's death.