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The laws governing medical malpractice vary from state to state. As these laws are complex and difficult for some people to understand, it is important to retain a lawyer with experience trying medical malpractice cases in your state. A good place to find an overview of the medical malpractice laws where you live is Expert Law, where they have an index of laws by state, or through your attorney's office.
Medical malpractice cases are almost always handled in the civil courts, but they can lead to criminal prosecutions as well. If a doctor or other medical professional has committed a grossly reckless or intentionally harmful act against a patient, it could be considered a crime. In the event the prosecutor decides it is worthy of criminal prosecution, that person may be tried for criminal behavior, such as abuse or even murder. This case may be on top of any other cases which you are bringing against this individual or hospital for monetary compensation (medical bills and/or pain and suffering).
Medical malpractice cases have a statute of limitations on when you can file your claim. A "statute of limitations" is defined as the maximum period of time after an event (such as a surgical mistake or misdiagnosis) that can elapse before a case is filed in court. The statute of limitations can be applied in both civil and criminal cases. This statute is to prevent medical malpractice cases that took place a very long time ago from being brought into court when little of the evidence surrounding the case may still be found. It is important to consult a medical malpractice lawyer soon after you believe the case of medical malpractice occurred, so that you can file your claim before the statute of limitations runs out.
Medical malpractice attorneys are lawyers who specialize in cases involving the medical field. Often they have undergone additional training to be able to understand the complex medical situations in which the malpractice has occurred. These lawyers are familiar with the laws in your state and will be able to tell you what information you may need in order to bring a lawsuit against your doctor, hospital or other medical personnel. Often a medical malpractice lawyer will take your case on contingency, meaning they will not get paid any of their fees if you do not recover compensation for your claim.