Medical Malpractice - What you need to prove

Legal claims for medical malpractice generally come down to establishing that your health care professional or another doctor was negligent in providing medical care treatment to you, and you incurred some kind of harm as a direct result of that negligent care. In order for a medical malpractice claim to be successful, a number of elements must be proven.

The Existence of a Doctor-Patient Relationship

In the eyes, of the law, the existence of a doctor-patient relationship gives rise to the physician’s duty to provide competent care. This element must be shown. As long as the doctor agreed to provide treatment or diagnosis to you, then a doctor-patient relationship is implied. It’s an easy element to prove and typically goes unchallenged in a medical malpractice case.

Doctor Sub-Standard Care

The proof of doctor sub-standard care must be established. In the legal arena, it is known as the medical standard of care, and it is a critical element in any medical malpractice case. To establish the medical standard of care, your physician’s actions are compared to similar medical professionals under like circumstances. In most medical malpractice cases, it is necessary for other doctors and health care professionals to testify as expert witnesses. These experts testify as to what a reasonably skilled and competent doctor would have done in the same circumstances. Both the defendant and plaintiff usually present their own expert witnesses to testify on the health care provider’s care based on accepted standards of medical practice. Sometimes, published clinical practice guidelines may also be used as evidence. If you’re the plaintiff, your expert witness will give detailed testimony as to what your physician should have done to paint a clear picture of the physician’s responsibility and liability  for the medical negligence.

Direct Connection Between Physician Negligence and Patient Injury

It’s not enough to show that the physician make an error that most other physicians would not have made. It must be proven that the physician’s actions or inactions are the direct link that caused you to suffer additional harm or caused your health condition to worsen. The key here is to establish that the harm was caused by the sub-standard actions of the doctor and not due to an underlying medical condition or some other circumstance. A good attorney medical malpractice lawyer will work closely with your expert witness to ensure this element is firmly established.

Quantifiable Proof of Harm and Preponderance of Evidence

Details must be provided of the actual harm to prove damages. In medical malpractice cases, damages usually include the costs of additional medical treatment, lost wages, potential lost wages and pain and suffering. Pain and suffering also includes mental damages, such as distress and depression. In addition, the plaintiff must show these elements by a preponderance of the evidence. The term preponderance of the evidence means that each element is more likely to be true than not. When compared to the legal standard in criminal cases where the standard of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard in medical malpractice cases is an easier legal standard to meet.

Still, there are some unique legal hurdles that medical malpractice claimants must accomplish. Depending on the state, a filing of a certificate of merit must be done, and the malpractice review board must approve the claim. Even the most straightforward medical malpractice claim will likely involve complicated state medical malpractice laws. The first thing to do is the contact an experienced attorney medical malpractice lawyer to discuss whether or not a viable medical malpractice claim exists. An experienced attorney medical malpractice lawyer will have in-depth knowledge of the state’s laws and know whether or not the elements of your case can be proven.

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