Medical malpractice is a lot more common than many people think. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the United States. It is only preceded by heart disease and cancer. In fact, it is estimated that during 2012, medical malpractice payouts exceeded $3 billion. The following are four things anyone who thinks they are the victim of medical malpractice should know.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice happens when a healthcare provider does not follow the recognized standard of care for treating a patient. The recognized standard of care involves what a person would reasonably consider prudent or what the average medical provider would have done or would not have done if they were in the same circumstances. Really, medical malpractice boils down to deciding whether or not the medical professional was negligent.

How Is Medical Negligence Determined?

Proving negligence is key to successfully winning a medical malpractice case. However, just because a medical experience had a bad outcome does not mean that negligence took place. In some cases, a healthcare provider will tell their patients that they have received negligent care from a previous doctor or a previous healthcare provider. Other times, the medical provider will, in an attempt to be honest, tell their patients that they made a mistake. Professionals know that substandard medical care might result in medical issues. When determining whether or not the practices of a physician were negligent, it is a good idea to speak to a licensed attorney in the state where the alleged malpractice occurred as they understand the laws and the statues that have a bearing on the case.

What Steps Should You Take If You Feel You Are the Victim of Medical Malpractice?

The first step you should take is to contact a qualified attorney. This is because every single state has its own statute of limitations for malpractice lawsuits. If a condition goes on for longer than the statue allows, you may not qualify for a lawsuit. Consulting with someone who is practiced in this area can make all the difference.

Will Filing a Malpractice Lawsuit Affect Your Health Insurance Premiums?

Some individuals avoid filing malpractice lawsuits because they think it will negatively affect their health insurance rates. However, when an individual files a legitimate medical malpractice lawsuit that can be backed by verifiable facts, they will not pay more for healthcare in the future. For this reason, if a person feels like they are the victim of medical malpractice, they should get a second opinion from a qualified physician and present that information to their attorney.

Suffering an injury as the result of negligence on the part of your physician can be a devastating thing. Thankfully, the legal system has put protections in place that provide compensation when these instances occur.