Is It Hard to Sue a Washington, D.C. Hospital for Medical Malpractice?

Is It Hard to Sue a Washington, D.C. Hospital for Medical Malpractice?Suing a hospital for medical malpractice can be very difficult in Washington, D.C. These types of lawsuits usually involve complicated facts, details, and legal issues, which must all be addressed appropriately. In addition, hospitals and their insurance companies are known to put up a fierce defense, often resulting in lengthy and drawn-out trials. However, with an experienced Medical Malpractice attorney by your side, you’ll know how to hold the hospital accountable and increase the chances of obtaining the outcome you deserve.

How to sue a hospital in Washington, D.C.

Suing a hospital can be a complex undertaking. While some cases may require more steps than others, six of the most common stages include:

  1. Determining liability: First, your attorney will need to look at the facts of your case and determine who might be liable. While you might sue the hospital, other parties may also be responsible for the harm you endured. For example, a doctor, nurse, phlebotomist, surgeon, equipment manufacturer, or x-ray technician may be liable.
  2. Ensuring that you have not missed the deadline: You also need to make sure that you have not missed the deadline to file a claim. In Washington, DC, you have three years to file a suit for medical malpractice. It is recommended that you begin the process as soon as possible.
  3. Filing the claim: After we have determined potentially liable parties and that you have not missed the deadline, it’s time to file a claim. This claim informs the hospital and the insurance company what damages you may be seeking. Most of the time, we seek damages for medical bills, lost wages, disability, loss of quality of life, loss of enjoyment of activities, caregiving services, pain and suffering, loss of companionship, out-of-pocket medical expenses, and more on behalf of our clients.
  4. Collecting supportive evidence: You and your attorney work together to collect evidence like photographs, videos, medical records, documents, prescriptions, and more. While this part of the process may sound simple, in reality it’s often the most intensive; it takes considerable time and effort to gather every piece of evidence needed to prove your case.
  5. Negotiating: Together, we’ll review any settlement offers provided by the hospital or their insurer. If the offer is unfair or unjust, we can counteroffer — a common part of the negotiation process. This can go on for several rounds. If the hospital’s insurance company does offer a fair amount, we can settle your claim. If not, then we can file a lawsuit on your behalf.
  6. Going to trial: Once you take this step, the hospital still has time to offer you a fair settlement. However, if they choose not to and the court date arrives, both parties must convince a judge or jury to rule in their favor.

According to Washington, DC § 16–2802, you must give notice to the defendant at least 90 days prior to filing a lawsuit. The hospital then has at least 90 days to respond.

What are examples of malpractice in a hospital setting?

Medical malpractice in a hospital setting can occur in many different ways, including:

  • Medication errors
  • Unnecessary surgeries
  • Surgical mistakes
  • Failure to treat or diagnose
  • Delayed treatment or diagnosis
  • Anesthesia errors
  • Failing to order or review tests
  • Failing to ask or record medical history
  • Performing the wrong procedure
  • Discharging the patient too soon

You can also sue a hospital for discrimination, negligent hiring or training, or dangerous or hazardous conditions.

What is the basis of a medical malpractice claim?

Most hospitals or healthcare providers are reluctant to admit they harmed a patient. However, as long as you can prove four basic elements, you may be able to hold them at fault for medical malpractice. These four elements include:

  • Duty of care: The hospital is responsible for hiring physicians and staff with the proper education, training, and background to properly diagnose and perform the type of care you need. As a patient, they owe you the same duty of care that would be expected from any hospital or provider.
  • Breach of duty: The hospital breached their duty by failing to provide a reasonable standard of care to you.
  • Causation: The hospital’s negligent actions directly caused your injuries or illness as a result of the breach of duty of care.
  • Damages: You suffered damages as a result of the hospital’s negligence. This could include medical expenses, disfiguration, disability, corrective surgeries, diminished quality of life, and more.

What can I do if I suspect medical malpractice occurred?

Nobody expects to suffer medical malpractice during a visit to a Washington, D.C. hospital. Unfortunately, this is a real and serious risk to patients across the country — in fact, medical errors are among the most common causes of death and incapacitation in the U.S. This is why it’s important to hold a hospital accountable for your injuries, and ensure nobody else is harmed by the hospital’s negligence.

Please contact Paulson & Nace, PLLC through this contact form or by calling our office.