Proving Medical Malpractice

Within a medical malpractice tort case, a dispute of opinions will exist between two or more parties, known as the plaintiff and defendant or defendants. The plaintiff, or alleged victim of medical malpractice, will file suit against defendant's, or healthcare providers, named in their medical malpractice suit for any number of claims. As support for their claims, a plethora of medical malpractice evidence must be presented to the courts to initially avoid having the medical malpractice lawsuit immediately dismissed by the courts, for leverage in potentially negotiating an out of court settlement with defendants, and for exhibiting to fact-finders, either jurors or a judge, in tort law trial. In the events following an incident of medical malpractice, it is essential victims retain, document, and pursue any items that could potentially be used as evidence in the event a medical malpractice claim reaches trial.

Given the nature of the average potential juror and typical judge, a large lacking of medical knowledge pertinent to a medical malpractice case is missing, and being that these two entities will decide the outcome of a medical malpractice civil suit, victims and their medical malpractice attorney must provide a litany of information and evidence to support the claims found in the medical malpractice tort against negligent healthcare providers. Additionally, the medical malpractice attorney's ability to effectively present this evidence in an understandable and persuasive manner is essential in winning damages in any medical malpractice litigation.

A vast number of pertinent items can be used as evidence during medical malpractice lawsuit litigation, but each case and victim presents a unique set of circumstances and events that could potentially be strengthened in argument by any kind of medical malpractice evidence.

Some of the more commonly admitted forms of medical malpractice evidence include:

  • Prior medical history of victims
  • Prior professional records of accused healthcare providers
  • All documents related to medical procedure in question
  • Affidavits from both parties and witnesses
  • Depositions from both parties and witnesses
  • Follow-up medical care records, documents, and diagnoses
  • Complete documentation of victim's current state of injuries and lacking health
  • Any physical evidence available
  • Subpoenaed internal records of healthcare providers regarding victims healthcare
  • Expert witness testimony

Each state implements their own statutes in regards to admissibility of evidence, and in addition, each case will present unique circumstances that allow a judge, or trier of the fact, to determine the admissibility of medical malpractice evidence. The federal guidelines, as stated in the Federal Rules of Evidence, present a cursory look that most state laws also implement in their own right. The Federal Rules of Evidence, Rule 401 mandates that relevant, and therefore admissible, evidence consists of that which may dispute or uphold any fact that will make the determination of a given case's outcome more or less likely than it would have without the presentation of the evidence in question. Following this rule, however, is Rule 403, which denies admission of medical malpractice evidence that expresses unfair prejudice, wastes time, or is too misleading to a potential juror pool.

It is important for victims to note that in order to receive compensation from a medical malpractice trial, victims have the burden of proof to show to a jury or judge all the elements of malpractice injuries by a preponderance of the presented evidence. The four main elements plaintiff's and their medical malpractice attorney must prove to finders of the facts, known commonly as juries or a judge are the most integral contention that medical malpractice evidence seeks to prove.

The four main elements necessary to prove in order to win damages in a medical malpractice tort include:

  • Legal duty of medical care owed to a victim
  • Victim's healthcare providers violated legal duty of care through failure to adhere to a reasonable standard of care
  • Healthcare provider's, also known as the defendant's, violations caused injury to a victim
  • Damages, whether emotional, psychological, physical, fiscal, or otherwise, were incurred by the victim

A medical malpractice attorney is best suited to present these claims to a jury or judge, as well as refute any counter-claims made by defendants and their legal teams.

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