Proving Negligence in Medical Malpractice

In the United States civil courts, medical malpractice negligence claims will lead to a medical malpractice tort claim, which essentially asserts a given healthcare professional is responsible for injuries or detrimental health affects a patient experienced or is still experiencing. The process of proving medical malpractice negligence is deeply rooted in common law history, however, the same elements necessary to prove the existence of a negligent actions by a healthcare professional are applicable today. During a civil tort case of medical malpractice, plaintiffs must prove the burden of guilt against the defendant healthcare providers.

The first element necessary to expose medical malpractice negligence in tort claims is establishing that defendants and plaintiffs entered into an agreement that required a healthcare professional to offer a duty of care, which is also known as a reasonable standard of care. For patients that have become victims of medical malpractice, the act of allowing a medical professional to examine, treat, or operate on their body leaves healthcare professionals liable for any actions or incidents that would deviate from a reasonable standard of care or duty of care. The definition of reasonable standard of care, or duty of care, however, presents complications in all its own right as well. The subjective nature of a reasonable standard of care is defined carefully during a tort case involving medical malpractice through expert witness testimony. Jurors and judges are assumed to have little or no working background of knowledge in regards to medical practices in most cases, and plaintiffs, as well as defendants, will produce expert witness testimony to promulgate or refute claims entered into the courts, as well as establish the guidelines for the duty of care necessary in a given medical malpractice claims case.

After a plaintiff, or patient who became a victim, shows with the help of a medical malpractice attorney that a duty of care according to a standard of care contract was made or implied, the plaintiff must now prove a breach of this contract occurred. A violation of reasonable standards of care is subject to analysis inside the civil courts, and in most cases, will need to show the breach of care was known, foreseeable, and would have potentially been avoided under normal medical procedures and policies.

Even with a breach of duty being made clear at a tort case for medical malpractice negligence, victims and their medical malpractice attorney must prove the breach of contract for a reasonable standard of care caused the damages victim are claiming. This is known as factual causation. Factual causation is provable using a variety of documents and further medical treatments and affidavits from other healthcare providers that must rectify the damages done in negligent procedures. This also can be furthered by showing a medical procedure, or lack of medical treatment, only exacerbated or caused future detrimental medical events.

When proving the factual causation of a medical malpractice damages, legal causation, otherwise known as proximate cause, must be established to prevent extemporaneous claims or otherwise dubious and unrelated injuries from being included as worthy of damages. The remoteness of a victim's damages to the actions or treatments by a defendant is scrutinized by the courts and called into question by a defendant's legal team, which a victim's medical malpractice attorney will vehemently defend with expert witness testimony and other physical evidence. Additionally, medical malpractice negligence claims must be made within a relatively short period of time following the alleged incident, which is known as the period of statute of limitations. Oftentimes, by filing claims within statue of limitation periods will ensure victims do not have their claims of proximate cause dismissed by the courts.

Finally, a medical malpractice attorney will construct a picture of all the damages that a victim has suffered as a direct result of the elements mentioned above, which in turn, led to a medical malpractice injury or illness. The number and type of damages is very subject to the ability of a medical malpractice attorney to portray the current and future hardships medical malpractice has placed in all facets of an individual's life. Additionally, the courts will issue judgments that demand punitive damages in cases that involved gross recklessness, grievous negligence, or malicious intention.

Some damages plaintiffs have a right to recover after falling victim to medical malpractice negligence include:

  • Medical expenses, whether past, current, or future
  • Loss of wages
  • Physical, emotional, or mental suffering
  • Psychological damages
  • Loss of consortium
  • Legal representation expenses
  • Trial costs and fees

Do you or someone you know feel they are the victim of medical malpractice negligence? Contact a medical malpractice attorney today.

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