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Know When to Use the Services of a Medical Lawyer

The general misconception exists in South Africa that sub-standard medical treatment is limited to state or public hospitals and clinics. Though more prevalent in such institutions, medical negligence and malpractice also occur in the private sector.

As a patient you have the right to medical treatment that meets reasonable care standards. Knowing when to use a medical lawyer is, however, not always so obvious. With the costs of litigation being rather expensive, you may shy away from the idea of taking legal steps against a medical practitioner or institution for negligence or malpractice.

If you want to know when to use a medical lawyer consider the following factors:

  • Was there a doctor/caregiver and patient relationship?
  • Did practitioner have a responsibility to treat you?
  • Was your right to confidentiality respected?
  • Did the practitioner explain the risks of the treatment?
  • Did you give consent to the treatment?
  • How long ago did the incident occur?
  • Have you suffered injury because of the action or failure to act on the part of the practitioner/institution?
  • Did you suffer financial damages because of the negligence such as additional medical costs, loss of income because of the condition and ongoing care costs?

The medical law attorney will review your answers and supporting evidence regarding the above to help you determine whether to take further legal steps. In many instances out-of-court settlements can be reached, but in some situations the only path forward is litigation. 

You or your child may have suffered physical injury because of the treatment or lack thereof, and damages can be claimed for the medical costs associated with such, as well as for damages related to aftercare and loss of income.

It is important to understand that you cannot take legal steps against a practitioner or caregiver that is a third party and not responsible for your medical treatment. You can thus only take legal steps if a patient and caregiver relationship existed. It should also be noted that there is a limited timeframe in which you can take legal steps. If an incident occurred over three years ago and you failed to file a complaint didn’t attempt to take legal action then the period for such may already have lapsed, though there are exceptions.

Make an appointment with our office to find out whether you should take further legal steps in pursuing damages for medical negligence or malpractice.


Note that the information in this article is for information purposes only and should not be seen as an attempt to provide legal advice. We strongly recommend that you contact us at Adele van der Walt Incorporated for professional legal advice.

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