How to Sue a Doctor in 2024

On this page, our medical malpractice lawyers will explain the process of suing a doctor or other healthcare provider for medical malpractice.  We will also look at

  1. what plaintiffs need to prove to win a medical malpractice case,
  2. how likely they are to win, and
  3. how much settlement compensation they can expect to get.


Alabama Medical Malpractice Settlement
Georgia Medical Malpractice Law and Settlements
Illinois Medical Malpractice Settlement Value
Kentucky Malpractice Settlement Amounts
Maryland Medical Malpractice
Nevada Medical Malpractice Settlement Amounts
Ohio Medical Malpractice Settlements and Statistics
Oklahoma Medical Malpractice Settlements
Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
Virginia Medical Malpractice Law and Settlements

What Is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is essentially medical negligence or negligent treatment provided by a doctor, nurse, hospital, or any other licensed healthcare provider. A doctor or provider commits medical malpractice if they negligently fail to provide a patient with level of medical care required in the medical industry. Medical malpractice can result from mistakes, inattentiveness, lack of understanding, and a variety of other issues.

In order bring a lawsuit for medical malpractice, you will need to show that the doctor’s negligence actually caused you some type of harm. You can’t sue a doctor for medical malpractice if their mistake didn’t really hurt you in anyway.

Medical malpractice can and does occur in a variety of healthcare contexts and at all stages during the treatment process. Some of the most common types or categories of medical malpractice include:

How to Sue a Doctor: Three Key Steps

Suing a doctor for medical malpractice is somewhat more complicated than bringing a normal personal injury lawsuit. Below is summary of the first three critical steps involved in filing a malpractice lawsuit against a doctor.

#1 Notifying the Doctor About Your Medical Malpractice Claim

If you are ready to sue a doctor for malpractice, you can’t just file your case in court. Almost all states have specific laws that require plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases to provide the doctor with written notice of their malpractice claim in advance of filing the actual lawsuit. This notice requirement must be satisfied as a prerequisite to filing the lawsuit.

The specific notice requirements for malpractice cases are different in each state, so you will need to work with your medical malpractice attorney to make sure you comply with the applicable rules in your location on how to sue a doctor. The general purpose of these rules, however, is to give the doctor advance warning of the lawsuit. If you fail to comply with the applicable notice requirements, your malpractice case will get dismissed.

#2 Expert Affidavit Supporting Your Malpractice Claims

In most states, plaintiffs who want to sue a doctor for medical malpractice first need to get an affidavit from a qualified expert (i.e., another doctor) stating that the expert has reviewed the case and believes that there is evidence of medical negligence. The specific requirements for the expert affidavit vary significantly in each state, so your lawyer will need to guide you through this process.

The intent behind this requirement is to provide an additional level of screening to prevent the filing of frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits. You can’t file a malpractice case unless and until you get another doctor to sign off on the validity of your case.

#3 Proving Your Medical Malpractice Claims

After meeting all of the other pre-conditions and filing your medical malpractice lawsuit, the third and final step will be actually proving your medical malpractice allegations in court. To succeed in a medical malpractice case, plaintiffs need to prove that the doctor’s treatment breached the applicable duty of care owed to the patient.

Breaching the Standard of Care is Medical Malpractice

Doctors and other medical professionals have a duty of care to their patients. What is the duty of care? In most situations, doctors are held to the standard of care of a reasonable doctor acting under the same circumstances and in the same location. So the question becomes what would a reasonable doctor have done under the circumstances.

The only way to prove that a doctor breached the standard of care and committed medical malpractice is to present testimony from qualified expert witnesses. A qualified expert witness generally means another doctor of the same are of medical specialty as the defendant.

The plaintiffs’ expert witness will need to testify as to what the standard of care was. The expert will also need to testify as to how the defendant breached that standard of care in the plaintiff’s case and that the plaintiff suffered injury as

What Damages Can You Get When You Sue a Doctor for Malpractice?

Plaintiffs who successfully prove medical malpractice are entitled to damages (financial compensation) for any and all injuries and loses, both past and future, that they incurred as a result of the doctor’s negligence.

In medical malpractice cases, the injuries to the plaintiff resulting from the doctor’s negligence are often very serious and can have long-term consequences. As a result, establishing the plaintiffs’ damages in a malpractice case can often be complicated and require expert testimony.

The typical categories of damages for which a medical malpractice plaintiff can get financial compensation include:

  • Compensation for all part medical expenses related to the doctor’s negligence
  • Compensation for future medical expenses (e.g., future care or surgery) that will be required as a result of the doctor’s negligence
  • Prior lost income or wages
  • Future lost income or loss of future earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering related to the plaintiff’s physical injuries
  • Loss of quality of life

Damages in medical malpractice cases fall into two categories: economic and non-economic. Economic damages are things like medical expenses and lost income. Non-economic damages are pain & suffering and loss of quality of life.

What is the Average Settlement Amount of a Malpractice Case Against a Doctor?

Medical malpractice lawsuits against doctors are high value personal injury cases because they often involve very serious injuries. Nationally, the average compensation payout in medical malpractice lawsuits is $257,000. This includes both settlements and verdicts. The average verdict in medical malpractice cases nationally is around $1,000,000.

There are a few things to keep in mind if you are wondering about the potential value of your case.  First, the value of a claim is driven not by how badly the doctors messed up, but by how serious you were injured as a result. The value of a malpractice case is based on the level of injury, not the level of negligence.

No matter how egregious or grossly negligent the doctors were, if it only results in minor injuries, the case will not be worth very much and it may be hard to find a lawyer to fight for you.  When the malpractice results in a serious, permanent injury or death the case will be worth much more.

Why Hire a Medical Malpractice Lawyer to Sue a Doctor?

Medical malpractice lawsuits against doctors are very complex and difficult cases to litigate. Bringing a malpractice case without a lawyer is not really an option because these cases require specialized knowledge and skill. Getting a good medical malpractice attorney with a track record of success is essential if you want to win you malpractice case and get fair compensation.

An experienced medical malpractice attorney can maximize the value of your case and increase your likelihood of success. A medical malpractice attorney will know what to look for in your case and what damages you can claim to receive the compensation you deserve. Most injury victims will not have the skills necessary to negotiate a favorable settlement with an insurance company that will undoubtedly have a seasoned team of lawyers trying to deny the claim.

Medical Malpractice Lawsuits are Very Expensive

The other big reason why you need a medical malpractice lawyer to handle your case is because litigating a malpractice lawsuit against a doctor can be incredibly expensive. To prove your case, you will need to hire multiple expert witnesses. Medical experts charge $500 per hour or more. Even a small malpractice case with just a few experts can easily cost $100,000 just to get to trial.

Our medical malpractice lawyers – and most other malpractice attorneys – front these expenses  and swallow the costs if your case is unsuccessful.  So in the vast majority of cases, when you hire a malpractice lawyer, they will go out-of-pocket and front these costs and if you lose your case you won’t owe them anything. So you can see why malpractice attorneys tend to take only cases they feel strongly they can win.

Contact Miller & Zois About Suing a Doctor for Malpractice

Contact Miller & Zois today for a free consultation about potential malpractice lawsuits against a doctor. Call our medical malpractice lawyers at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation.

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