Our health is a precious thing that many people take for granted until an accident or illness changes their life. Health care providers can make mistakes that have long-lasting consequences.
If you have suffered harm as a result of a treatment or negligent treatment by a health care professional, you may be able take legal action. If you are considering taking action against any health care provider, facility or organization, you should consult a lawyer as soon as possible to be sure that you are collecting appropriate information and are acting within the time limitations for notices to be served. Click here for a list of things to consider if you think you have been harmed due to medical negligence.
Click here to understand how a lawyer will evaluate the strength of your case.
The process of making a claim can be long and intense. There are several points in the process that require clients and lawyers to work together to be sure that they are doing what is best for the client - financially, physically and emotionally. At McDougall Gauley LLP, our lawyers will use their experience and knowledge to assist each client in making decisions about their case, taking into account both the strength of the case and the client's situation. This client-centred approach helps clients get more value for their investment in legal advice. Click here to learn more about the process of making a medical malpractice claim.
We have experience dealing with cases of negligence by health care professionals (including physicians, nurses, chiropractors, emergency medical service providers, and dentists) which have caused injury or wrongful death. These cases have included surgical mistakes, brain injuries, birth injuries, physician impairment, emergency room error, misdiagnosis, failure to refer and delayed diagnosis. Our team has both medical and court experience that is unique in the province.
What do I do if I feel there has been some negligence or omission?
- Be sure to document everything you can including:
- Names of all the medical professionals you've seen and treatment dates
- Any costs associated with treatment or travel for treatment
- Lost wages for you or people caring for you as a result of your situation
- Search for an experienced medical malpractice lawyer
- Research their knowledge and experience
- Meet with the person for an initial consultation
- Be sure that you feel comfortable with the lawyer and the firm - if your situation leads to a legal action, you could be working with them for a long time
- Do not delay in seeking help. Cases must be brought forward in a strict time frame. Additionally, your health situation and course of treatment should be investigated while all parties are able to remember the details
How do I know if I have a case?
- There are some basic criteria that a judge would use to evaluate whether or not there has been negligent behavior including:
- Did the health care provider owe you a duty of care?
- What was the standard of care to be met by that health care provider?
- Did the health care provider meet that standard of care?
- Did you suffer a loss or damage as a result?
- Additionally, you will be asked to prove how the damage has affected your life now and will affect your future.
- The strength of your case depends on your ability to prove that there was negligence or omission and that it caused damage to you.
What happens when I contact a lawyer?
- A lawyer will ask questions to clarify your situation. Give the lawyer as much information as you can about your history, relevant dates, people involved and the results of the negligent action.
- With enough information, a lawyer will decide whether or not a case warrants further investigation. The lawyer will review with you the potential costs and benefits of the investigation so that you can make an informed decision about the future of this case. This step usually involves gathering medical records and sharing them with a qualified medical expert for his/her review and opinion. You may be asked to provide a deposit on the fees for these experts.
- Once the expert opinion is received and the preliminary investigation is complete, your lawyer will have a good sense of the probability of receiving any compensation for damages and whether or not the compensation will be worth the investment of time and money required to proceed with the legal
- If there is an agreement to proceed, you will enter into a written fee agreement. This document will outline the process of the legal case and the responsibilities of you and your lawyer. Read this agreement carefully and be sure you agree to everything before you sign it. Ask questions if you don't understand.
- Upon a decision to proceed with the case, details are furthers investigated and information prepared. An "action" is started with filing of the Statement of Claim which is served on the Defendants who are, in turn, allowed to investigate the claim and file a Defence.
- In Saskatchewan, we have a process of mandatory mediation where the parties appear before an impartial mediator who will see if the parties can resolve the matter or, at least, find areas of common interest to discuss.
- A process of mutual disclosure called Discovery is the next step. All parties involved share their information through documents and oral questioning under oath.
- After the examination for discovery, your lawyer will discuss with you his/her opinion of your case based on the information presented. You and your lawyer will decide whether or not you have enough strong information to back up your claim compared to that presented by the other parties.
- If you decide that your case is strong, you will move to a process called a Pre-trial conference. This judge-led meeting of all parties is a more active attempt to resolve the matter.
- Again, if no resolution can be found, you will move to a trial where a judge will listen to the information and make a decision on whether there was negligence and whether it caused your injuries. The judge will determine if there is a legitimate claim, who is responsible and how much compensation will be made.
- The time from start to finish depends on the complexity of the case and the circumstances of the parties. Most cases in Saskatchewan, where the parties are able to move along without unnecessary delay, would take at least 24 months to get to the trial phase.