I believe that I was injured as a result of the negligence of a nurse in a Nashville hospital. How do I make a medical malpractice claim?
The first thing you do is contact a lawyer who has substantial experience in medical malpractice cases and who represents patients, not health care providers. Read here for more information about hiring a lawyer.
From the factual summary you give, that lawyer will determine whether he can investigate your case. The investigation has several components, starting with gathering, organizing and reviewing the medical records that are relevant to your claim.
If a careful review of the medical records demonstrates you may have a valid claim the lawyer will then consult with one or more potential experts. In medical malpractice cases medical experts must testify that an inappropriate error was made and that the error caused an injury (or death) that would not have otherwise occurred. In Tennessee, these experts must come from Tennessee or a contiguous state and the experts must be familiar with good medical practice in the community where the alleged malpractice occurred or the good medical practice in a similar community. Not everything that appears to be an error of a health care provider is malpractice and not every injury that occurs in a hospital is caused by medical malpractice. Experts are necessary to prove what is malpractice and what is not.
If qualified medical experts support the case, the lawyer then takes appropriate steps to file the case. The law made filing medical malpractice cases more difficult in recent years – one first must give formal notice of the claim and, when suit is filed (at least 60 days after notice is given) the lawsuit must be filed with a certificate of good faith from appropriate medical experts.
Thus, the key to the whole process is finding a lawyer who understands the law of medical malpractice and has substantial experience in the field. Do not attempt to do this on your own – these are very difficult cases.
By the way, Tennessee has deadlines for taking legal action in this (and every other) type of case. In general, you should seek advice from a qualified lawyer as soon as possible if you believe you have been injured by a health care provider. The investigation process takes several months, so it is important that you get a lawyer involved as quickly as possible.
John Day represents personal injury victims and families of wrongful death victims. He has represented medical malpractice victims since 19. He is board-certified as a civil trial specialist by the National Board of Trial Advocacy and, in fact, served as President of the organization. He is an elected member of the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers. His book, "Day on Torts: Leading Cases in Tennessee Tort Law," is used by judges and lawyers across Tennessee to further their understanding of personal injury and wrongful death law in Tennessee. In 2009, Best Lawyers named John "Best Personal Injury Lawyer" for Nashville; he was the first recipient of that award. Best Lawyers also named John as "Best Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Nashville" for 2010. John does not charge for an initial consultation and accepts personal injury and wrongful death cases on a contingent fee basis. You can reach him by telephone at 615.742.4880 or by email by clicking here.