You put your trust in the medical professionals caring for yourself and your family. It can be devastating when that trust is betrayed, and you are harmed by medical malpractice. Bringing a medical malpractice case against a practitioner in Canada can present many challenges, so having a skilled personal injury lawyer to guide you through every step is crucial. If you believe you have been a victim of medical malpractice, you should contact a personal injury lawyer for a consultation as soon as possible. There is a two-year statute of limitations on most medical malpractice cases, so beginning the process immediately after you’ve been injured is critical.
What is the Difference Between Medical Negligence and Medical Malpractice?
First, it is essential to understand what constitutes medical malpractice. Sometimes patients are unhappy with their treatment, but it doesn’t rise to the level of medical negligence or medical malpractice. Medical negligence occurs when a healthcare professional does not provide the standard of care that would be expected from someone with similar training and experience. This may mean that they did not act professionally, made an egregious mistake, or failed to diagnose or provide proper treatment for a condition. While medical negligence is never good, it only becomes medical malpractice if the practitioner’s actions or inaction causes direct harm to the patient. Some examples of medical malpractice include birth injuries, medication errors that caused damage to the patient, and harmful surgical mistakes.
What Are the Basic Steps of a Medical Malpractice Case in Canada?
If you have been harmed by medical malpractice and you are unable to reach a settlement with the practitioner’s insurance, you may choose to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit to court. It’s important to understand what steps to expect from this process. While every case is unique, they will typically follow this outline:
- Plaintiff files a Statement of Claim or a Notice of Civil Claim: This official court document names the defendants and lays out the allegations against them, along with the damages sought.
- Defendants respond with a Statement of Defense: This is the defendants’ rebuttal to the claims against them.
- Both sides perform discovery: During this stage, both sides will try to understand the other party’s case better, so they can prepare to face them in court. They will collect relevant documents, obtain experts’ opinions, and question individuals involved in the case.
- Lawyers attend pre-trial conferences: They provide the judge with updates, and the judge helps determine if a settlement is possible or if the case must go to trial.
- Both parties attend mediation: In some jurisdictions, mediation is a required step. Even if it isn’t, most claims go through a mediation process to attempt to resolve the case before it reaches trial.
- The case goes to trial: If a settlement is not possible, even with negotiation, then the case goes before a judge or a jury. Both sides will present their evidence, and the judge or jury will determine the outcome. This can take months to over a year.
After all this, if the unsuccessful party disagrees with the final ruling, they may appeal the decision. If their appeal is unsuccessful in their local jurisdiction, it could be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, which makes the ultimate ruling. This can make the process even longer.
How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Make the Court Process Easier?
Medical malpractice cases can be very complex to litigate. Enlisting the services of a trusted personal injury lawyer to help you navigate the process is crucial. They will bring their experience to bear when it comes to collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses, getting expert medical opinions, determining damages, and negotiating with the defense. Ideally, they will be able to recover a fair settlement without the need for a lengthy court battle. However, a good lawyer is prepared to take the case to trial whenever necessary to get their clients the justice they deserve.