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If you believe that a doctor, surgeon, or other healthcare provider caused you to suffer an illness or injury because of their negligence, you may have a medical malpractice claim. Most people who want compensation for medical malpractice have lawyers handle their claims to ensure their cases are handled as efficiently as possible.
However, some people may prefer to “DIY” their claims, especially if they believe it’s obvious that they were harmed by a negligent provider. Their reasoning for this may vary: they may want to save money, or they may believe that they can represent themselves better than an attorney can.
So, what does Ohio law say about representing yourself in your medical malpractice claim?
Although most medical malpractice claims are handled by experienced lawyers, it is possible to represent yourself and file your own claim. But doing so is seldom a good idea.
Medical malpractice claims are notoriously difficult to win. Hospitals, healthcare clinics, and surgery centers are well protected against these claims. They have many built-in safeguards to ward off medical malpractice claims from even being filed against them. When they do face claims, their insurance providers are even more aggressive in their defenses.
The burden of proof in medical malpractice lawsuits is high, and having a bad outcome doesn’t necessarily mean malpractice occurred. There’s a fine line between incorrect diagnoses and negligent diagnoses, poor surgical outcomes and negligent surgical outcomes, and mistakes caused by human nature and mistakes caused by carelessness.
In addition to these differences, many medical malpractice claims rely on the opinions of expert witnesses. These parties are called upon to determine if, when, and where the malpractice occurred. If you don’t have access to or relationships with these experts, it can be difficult to convince the insurance company to settle or for a jury to side with you. An experienced lawyer can hire expert witnesses to examine the medical details of your case and help prove malpractice occurred.
If you try to represent yourself, it’s possible the very people from whom you’re seeking compensation will simply dismiss your claim out-of-hand. Without an attorney, they may not treat your claim as serious or likely to succeed. At best, they may simply brush off your attempts at collecting a settlement, and at worst, they may flat-out ignore you.
They also know that should your claim go to trial, you’ll be seriously outgunned against their legal teams. Even personal injury lawyers with decades of experience may struggle in medical malpractice trials if they don’t have adequate experience with medical malpractice claims.
Sometimes, injured victims and their loved ones may be able to get fast settlements from healthcare facilities and their insurers without ever calling a lawyer. When that happens, it often means that negligence was blatant and easily proven.
When insurers do this, it is because they think you have the right to significant compensation in a civil suit. By offering fast settlements, healthcare facilities and their insurers are trying to minimize their financial hit, as victims can’t sue for more money after accepting those offers. If you don’t have experience building medical malpractice claims, you won’t know how much your claim is truly worth.
In addition to being legally difficult to prove and win, medical malpractice claims are also time-consuming. Building these claims requires tracking down, collecting, analyzing, and presenting records, documents, witness statements, and more. Many medical malpractice victims don’t even know where to begin, nor do they have the time, energy, or resources to take on these tasks by themselves.
If you’re recovering from a preventable malpractice-related illness or injury, the last thing you need is to deal with an uncooperative healthcare clinic and insurer while desperately needing the money from a settlement. Instead, you should focus on getting better.
The Cleveland medical malpractice lawyers at Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy can build your claim while you rest. You’ll also get peace of mind knowing that your claim is in the hands of a legal team with decades of experience winning big settlements for victims just like you. Contact us today for a free consultation.
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