Navigating the Medical Malpractice Claims Process in Washington State

Medical Malpractice Claims

Healthcare providers, like anyone else, can make mistakes but, unlike other professions, an error can result in serious injuries or death. When a patient is seriously harmed due to negligent care, they may be able to recover damages such as medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages with the help of a medical malpractice attorney. Thousands of medical malpractice claims are filed every year in the U.S., with national statistics showing that just 1.8% of doctors are behind more than half of all claims!

Filing a medical malpractice claim is best handled with the assistance of an experienced local medical malpractice lawyer who understands the laws in your state and how to navigate the medical malpractice claims process.

What is Medical Malpractice?

If you suffered an injury because a healthcare provider deviated from the accepted standard of care or provided treatment without your consent, you may be a victim of medical malpractice. Speak to a medical malpractice lawyer to discuss whether you have a viable medical malpractice claim.

Here are some common real-world examples of medical malpractice:

  • Failure to diagnose an illness or injury
  • Failure to communicate test results
  • Surgical errors such as leaving a medical sponge inside the body that leads to infection
  • Failure to communicate risks associated with a treatment
  • Errors involving prescription drugs such as prescribing wrong dose for body weight
  • Birth injuries like brachial palsy and subgaleal hemorrhage

What is the Medical Malpractice Claims Process in Washington State?

If you believe that you were injured as a result of negligent medical care, a medical malpractice lawsuit may be an appropriate way to pursue a settlement or jury award. Here are the basic steps involved in the medical malpractice claims process in Washington State:

Step 1: Seek medical treatment

As soon as you realize you’ve suffered an injury due to medical malpractice, consult a different doctor. This serves two purposes: ensuring your safety and creating evidence of your injuries by consulting a doctor who will assess and treat the problem.

Step 2: Obtain your healthcare records

After receiving treatment, obtain your medical records from the hospital or doctor’s office where the malpractice occurred. These records serve as strong evidence of the harm caused by the initial healthcare provider.

Step 3: Consult a medical malpractice lawyer

Before communicating with anyone else, consult with your lawyer to determine if you have a viable case. Discuss whether to inform insurance companies and the healthcare facility of your intention to file a claim. This proactive step may prompt a quick response, potentially leading to a fair settlement and avoiding a court battle.

Step 4: Prepare and file your claim

If a reasonable settlement isn’t offered immediately, your next step is to create and file your malpractice claim with the court. Your lawyer will ensure the paperwork is accurate, as mistakes could jeopardize your ability to recover compensation.

Step 5: Mediation

According to Revised Code of Washington, Section 7.70.100, both plaintiffs and defendants must go through mediation before a medical malpractice case proceeds to trial. During mediation, your lawyer will represent your interests. If a fair settlement is offered, you can accept it and bypass a trial. Otherwise, your injury lawyer will represent you at trial to fight for the compensation you deserve.

Statute of Limitations

Keep in mind that there is a statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims, which means that you have a limited time to bring a malpractice suit against a healthcare provider or hospital. In Washington State, patients generally have three years to bring a claim from the date they should have reasonably known that they were injured, though exceptions may be made for those injured when they were children.

Regardless of the legal time limits, it is a good idea to contact a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as the injury is discovered. Timely action is essential for gathering and preserving evidence.

The Seattle Personal Injury Lawyers You Want on Your Side

The personal injury attorneys at Tinker Law Firm have been winning birth injury, medical malpractice, and personal injury cases for individuals and their loved ones in Seattle and across Washington State since 1974. We seek justice for injury victims who have been harmed by preventable medical errors, and the negligent or abusive actions of another. Our clients pay no fees or expenses to file a personal injury claim; our firm advances out-of-pocket expenses and is only reimbursed when we recover a settlement on your behalf. Do not delay; personal injury claims in Washington State have a statute of limitations, which means they must be filed within a certain time from the date of the injury.

Call us now at 206-842-1000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled and experienced injury attorneys.