Stethoscope Over Malpractice Wooden Block

The Do's and Don’ts of Pursuing Medical Malpractice Claims

Arthur W. Landry and Jeanne Andry Landry, Attorneys at Law, LLC  June 11, 2024

Pursuing medical malpractice claims requires careful planning, a strong understanding of the law, and skillful legal representation.  

Arthur W. Landry and Jeanne Andry Landry, Attorneys at Law, aim to support you through this difficult process with the utmost respect, professionalism, and compassionate listening. 

What Is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional provides substandard care that results in harm to a patient. This can include misdiagnosis, surgical errors, prescription mistakes, or failure to provide appropriate treatment. 

The Do's of Pursuing Medical Malpractice Claims

Here’s what to do if you have experienced medical malpractice. 

1. Do Consult an Experienced Attorney 

The first and most crucial step is consulting an experienced medical malpractice attorney. Their advice will be tailored to your circumstances. 

2. Do Gather All Relevant Medical Records 

Medical records will serve as the backbone of your claim, providing evidence of the care you received and where it went wrong. Your attorney will need these documents to build a strong case. 

3. Do Act Quickly 

The statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims in Louisiana is generally one year from the date of the incident or discovery of the injury. Quick action on your part allows you to meet these deadlines and safeguard your right to pursue a claim. 

4. Do Seek a Second Medical Opinion 

A second medical opinion can help establish that the original care you received was substandard. It also provides additional evidence to support your claim. 

5. Do Communicate with Your Attorney 

Keeping the lines of communication open with your attorney is vital. A good attorney builds solid relationships with their clients and makes sure your concerns are heard and addressed throughout the process. 

6. Do Document Everything Thoroughly 

Maintain detailed notes and records of every interaction and treatment you receive from healthcare professionals. This includes prescription details, appointment dates, and the names of all medical personnel involved in your care. These records can serve as critical evidence in substantiating your claim. 

7. Do Seek Emotional Support 

Pursuing a medical malpractice claim can be an emotional process. Seek support from friends, family, or professional counselors to help you deal with the emotional toll of the process. Having a strong support system can be invaluable as you go through this challenging period. 

8. Do Understand the Financial Implications 

Be aware of the potential financial costs involved in pursuing a medical malpractice claim. These may include attorney fees, court costs, and fees for expert witnesses. Understanding these implications can help you prepare financially and avoid unexpected expenses. 

9. Do Be Honest and Transparent 

Always provide truthful and comprehensive information to your attorney and the courts. Honesty is crucial in building a credible and convincing case. Any discrepancies or omissions can undermine your claim and potentially harm your chances of a successful outcome. 

10. Do Focus on Your Health 

Your health and well-being should be your top priority throughout this process. Continue to follow medical advice and seek treatment for your injuries. Pursuing legal action should not detract from your efforts to recover and maintain your health. 

The Don’ts of Pursuing Medical Malpractice Claims

Here’s what not to do if you have experienced medical malpractice. 

1. Don’t Delay Seeking Legal Advice 

Get legal advice as soon as possible. Delay can result in the loss of critical evidence and the expiration of the statute of limitations.  

2. Don’t Communicate Directly with Insurance Companies 

Insurance companies often aim to settle claims quickly and for as little money as possible. Direct communication with them can jeopardize your claim. Always consult your attorney before speaking with insurance representatives. 

3. Don’t Sign Anything Without Legal Counsel 

Never sign any documents related to your claim without first consulting your attorney. Signing documents without understanding their implications can affect your ability to seek fair compensation. 

4. Don’t Discuss Your Case Publicly 

Avoid discussing your case on social media or with anyone outside your legal team. Public discussions can be used against you and may harm your claim. 

5. Don’t Assume All Attorneys Have the Same Experience 

Not all attorneys specialize in medical malpractice. Ensure that your attorney has a strong track record in this field.  

6. Don’t Ignore Medical Advice 

Ignoring the advice of healthcare professionals can negatively impact your recovery and weaken your claim. Follow prescribed treatments and attend all medical appointments to show that you are taking your health seriously and to support your case. 

7. Don’t Exaggerate or Misrepresent Your Injuries 

Exaggerating or misrepresenting the extent of your injuries can undermine your credibility and harm your claim. Be honest and accurate in all descriptions of your condition. 

8. Don’t Dispose of Any Evidence 

Preserve all physical evidence related to your injury and treatment. This includes medical devices, prescriptions, and personal notes. Disposing of any evidence can weaken your case and make it more difficult to prove your claim. 

9. Don’t Hide Prior Medical History 

Be transparent about your medical history with your attorney. Hiding previous medical conditions or treatments can surface later and damage your case. Full disclosure ensures that your attorney can build the strongest possible argument on your behalf. 

10. Don’t Accept the First Settlement Offer 

The first settlement offer you receive is often lower than what you may deserve. Consult with your attorney before accepting any offer to ensure it adequately covers your damages and future medical needs. 

Medical Malpractice Laws in Louisiana

In Louisiana, medical malpractice claims are subject to specific laws and regulations: 

  • Statute of limitations: In Louisiana, you generally have one year from the date of the incident or discovery of the injury to file a claim. 

  • Medical review panel: Before filing a lawsuit, your claim must be reviewed by a medical review panel. This panel consists of three healthcare providers and one attorney, who evaluate the merit of your claim. 

  • Damage caps: Louisiana has a cap on non-economic damages (such as pain and suffering) in medical malpractice cases, currently set at $500,000. 

  • Patient compensation fund: The state has established a Patient Compensation Fund (PCF) to ensure that patients are compensated for legitimate claims. Healthcare providers pay into this fund, which covers damages exceeding the cap. 

  • Informed consent: Louisiana law requires that patients provide informed consent before undergoing any medical procedure. Failure to obtain this consent could be grounds for a malpractice claim. 

  • Good Samaritan law: Provides specific kinds of immunity to healthcare professionals who voluntarily assist in emergencies outside their regular employment setting. This law is designed to encourage aid without the fear of negligence claims, though it does not provide blanket immunity for all acts of negligence. 

  • Expert witness requirement: To support a malpractice claim, Louisiana requires testimony from a medical expert who can establish the standard of care that was breached. This expert must be qualified to offer an opinion relevant to the specifics of the case. 

  • Joint and several liability: In cases where more than one healthcare provider is found liable, each party is only responsible for their portion of the damages as determined by their degree of fault. 

  • Collateral source rule: In Louisiana, payments received from other sources (like insurance) cannot be deducted from the amount awarded in a malpractice claim. This rule ensures that plaintiffs are fully compensated for their losses. 

  • Periodic payments: For future damages exceeding $250,000, Louisiana allows for periodic payments rather than a lump-sum payout. This ensures long-term financial security for the injured party. 

Speak With Medical Malpractice Attorneys in New Orleans, Louisiana

Pursuing a medical malpractice claim can be daunting, but you don't have to go through it alone. The experienced attorneys at Arthur W. Landry and Jeanne Andry Landry, Attorneys at Law, are here to help you every step of the way. With over 70 years of combined experience, they are dedicated to achieving excellent results for their clients. 

They proudly serve clients in New Orleans, Louisiana, Metairie, Mandeville, Slidell, and Chalmette. If you have been a victim of medical malpractice, call them and take the first step toward justice.