Do You Need a Lawyer to Sue for Medical Malpractice in New York?
Medical malpractice is among the most damaging actions a healthcare provider can commit. It not only causes injuries and death but also damages the trust the public places in healthcare professionals. Fortunately, victims of malpractice can seek compensation for their losses, but can they do so without a lawyer in New York?
The answer to that question is a resounding no. Although there is no law that says a medical malpractice victim must hire an attorney to fight for them, the process is complex; victims need an attorney to be successful. Proceeding without one is likely to result in little to no compensation at all.
The Complexity of Medical Malpractice Cases in New York
Medical malpractice cases in New York have different rules and requirements than other personal injury cases. They are also more involved than your typical personal injury case. For these reasons, legal and medical experts generally agree that victims of malpractice need lawyers.
Certificate of Merit
Most medical malpractice actions must begin with a certificate of merit. This is a document that attests to the validity of the victim’s claim that medical malpractice has indeed occurred.
The certificate of merit must be completed by the attorney and must specify that the attorney has consulted with at least one licensed physician who is knowledgeable on the issues of the case. The attorney must also state that their consultation has led them to believe that there are reasonable grounds for pursuing the claim.
Without a certificate of merit, most medical malpractice cases are dead in the water — but not all of them. Some medical malpractice cases do not need a certificate of merit if the wrongdoing is blatantly obvious, such as the amputation of the wrong leg.
Most people injured by medical malpractice simply do not have the time or experience to learn about certificates of merit. And they have less time to devote to searching for a competent professional in the relevant field.
That’s why victims of medical malpractice need attorneys. An experienced attorney will already have connections with the competent medical professionals they need to complete certificates of merit.
Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is a deadline for taking legal action. Failure to meet this deadline typically leads to the invalidation of the legal action in question.
In New York, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is usually three years. However, medical malpractice cases operate under a different statute of limitations, even though they are considered personal injury cases.
The statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases is two years and six months from the date of the act of malpractice. In cases of ongoing treatment, the statute of limitations is calculated from the date of the last treatment received by the patient.
Unfortunately, many victims of medical malpractice are unaware of these deadlines and rules and end up waiting too long before taking legal action. The result is a dismissed case or a denied claim.
But those medical malpractice victims who hire attorneys never have to worry about the statute of limitations and its timing rules. Their lawyers make sure that their claims are in strict compliance with all deadlines involved in the case.
Damages Calculations and Settlement Negotiations
Calculating damages and negotiating a settlement are two essential tasks in every medical malpractice suit. Both directly lead to the compensation payout the victim receives.
Those who have seasoned attorneys representing them get peace of mind knowing that a professional is working diligently to get them every penny they deserve. But without an attorney, how can you know what a proper payout is for your injuries?
Even if a victim managed to come up with a proper damages calculation, they would still be required to convince the insurance company to pay it. But insurance companies fiercely guard their profits by fighting to pay less compensation than they owe. And for those individuals without lawyers, this is precisely what they get: less.
What happens if the insurance company refuses to pay? In cases such as these, the victim must file a lawsuit and fight to compel a proper payout. Doing so without a lawyer will likely see the case ultimately thrown out over procedural errors or decided in favor of the medical professional.
Reach Out to an Attorney Who Cares
Have you experienced injuries due to medical malpractice? If so, you deserve compensation from the healthcare professionals who have harmed you.
Silberstein, Awad & Miklos have fought for and won significant compensation for numerous medical malpractice victims and can potentially do the same for you.