How To File A Medical Malpractice Claim In Washington State

If you or somebody you care about has been injured or become ill due to the negligent actions of a medical professional in Washington, you may be able to recover compensation for your losses. However, most individuals are unaware of how to go about filing a medical malpractice claim. Here, we want to review what you need to do as soon as possible if you think you have a viable medical malpractice claim against a doctor or some other type of medical professional.

Make Sure You File Quickly

It is crucial to make sure that you file your medical malpractice claim as soon as possible. In Washington, the medical malpractice statute of limitations is the latter of the two:

  • Three years after the medical error caused an injury or illness
  • One year after you discovered or reasonably should have discovered that an error caused your medical condition

If the incident occurred to a person under the age of 18, the discovery rule will apply from the time when the parent or guardian learned about the malpractice.

Filing the Claim

We strongly recommend that you work with a skilled Washington medical malpractice lawyer throughout this entire process. If any part of the medical malpractice claims process is not strictly adhered to, the claim will likely not proceed forward. Your attorney can help gather all of the evidence needed to prove what happened, and they will work with trusted medical experts who can examine the situation and testify on your behalf.

You and your Seattle medical malpractice attorney will need to notify the medical professional/hospital/medical agency that you are preparing to file the lawsuit. In many cases, your insurance carrier and legal team, and the hospital where the alleged malpractice occurred will agree to a settlement during the negotiation process. If a settlement agreement occurs, this takes away the need to move forward with the court process.

However, if there is no settlement agreement, you and your attorney will have to file the medical malpractice lawsuit in civil court.

Mandatory Mediation

Before a medical malpractice lawsuit in Washington moves forward to trial, state law requires that the victim and the alleged negligent party go through the mediation process in an attempt to resolve the claim before the trial becomes necessary.

However, mediation will not be required:

  • If you already had an agreement with the medical provider to submit malpractice claims to mandatory arbitration, or
  • If the judge or mediator decides that mediation would not be appropriate for the particular claim.

If you go through the mediation process, your attorney will represent you, but you will likely have to be there. Anything said during mediation is confidential. Nothing that happens during the mediation settlement will be legally binding if you fail to reach a settlement agreement during the process.

Recovering Compensation

After a successful resolution to a medical malpractice claim, either through a negotiated settlement or as a result of a jury trial verdict, you should be able to receive various types of compensation. This includes complete coverage of all medical expenses related to the incident, compensation for any lost wages you incur as a result of the incident, pain and suffering damages, various out-of-pocket expenses, and more. The total amount of compensation available will depend on various factors related to your specific claim. A Seattle personal injury lawyer can help you navigate this process.