Steps Toward Navigating Your Medical Malpractice Case
In the event your case is a death case, ensure that you’ve taken the appropriate steps to have someone named as the personal representative of the estate, that you have obtained Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration, and although not mandatory, it’s also prudent to obtain an order in probate court authorizing the personal representative to file suit against the tortfesor that caused the decedent’s death.
Before you can file a medical malpractice petition in many states, including Texas for example, you are required to provide formal notice to the Defendant. Failure to do this is fatal to your case. Check the statute for the required inclusions to this letter, or email the author of this article for an example of a notice letter.
Second, some state codes require that any healthcare provider who is put on notice of a potential claim provide complete and unaltered copies of the patient’s medical records. This language should be included in the notice letter, along with a HIPAA-compliant Medical Authorization. Recall that by this point, if your case is a death case, you should already have a personal representative appointed with authority by the probate court who can execute a Medical Authorization.
In addition, some state codes require the patient providing the is notice to give the Defendant an authorization to obtain his or her relevant medical records. As you will see by statute, you will also be preparing (1) a list of all of the patient’s medical providers who evaluated or treated the patient in connection with the claim (with address), and (2) a list of medical providers (with address) who evaluated or treated the patient within five years preceding the incident giving rise to the claim.
While not necessary, it is also prudent to load up a set of the patient’s medical records onto a CD and include these with the notice. Send the notice before the expiration of the two-year statute of limitations by certified mail, return receipt requested, restricted delivery to all Defendants.
Statute of Limitations
If you’re up against the two-year statute of limitations period, remember that you only have to send the notice out before the statute of limitations runs. This act tolls the statute of limitations for up to 75 days. After 60 days have expired you may file the medical malpractice petition in a court of competent jurisdiction. If the statute of limitations has been tolled due to the mailing of the notice, file the petition immediately after the 60 days have expired.
For these reasons, it is imperative to hire a veteran litigator and experienced trial lawyer who has experience in medical malpractice case.