Passionate Advocates for Medical Malpractice Victims
Medical malpractice occurs when a medical practitioner fails to meet the legal standards of care in their field, and that failure causes harm to their patient. Malpractice is often grounds for a personal injury legal case. Medical providers, such as nursing homes and hospitals, are held to high standards of care, to protect patients from becoming victims of negligence, and to enable them to seek compensation if they do. Damages in a malpractice suit can include reduced quality of life, pain and suffering, and the cost of medical bills. Examples of malpractice include:
- A doctor who misdiagnoses a patient when most providers could have easily, accurately diagnosed the patient.
- A nursing home that doesn’t move patients often enough to avoid bedsores.
- A surgical team that accidentally leaves medical instruments inside of a patient or performs the wrong surgery.
Process in medical malpractice cases
For a plaintiff to establish that malpractice occurred and recover for damages, they must prove four legal elements: Duty of Care, Breach of Duty, Causation, and Damages. When a case goes to civil court, a jury will consider the evidence to determine the medical provider’s guilt or innocence, and the amount of recovery owed to the plaintiff.
Duty of Care – The patient must prove that the medical provider had a duty of care in the relationship. Typically, this relationship is proven using admission and related documents, which prove that the patient contracted with the provider for specific medical care. If an independent contractor was involved, such as a doctor who was not an employee of the hospital but brought in to consult, it becomes harder to determine which provider owed the duty of care — the hospital or consulting doctor. Once the responsible provider is identified, the next step is to compare their care with the standard of care that should have been provided. One way to do this is to compare it with the treatment a provider of equal skill and education would have provided in a similar situation.
Breach of Duty – Having confirmed the responsible provider and the duty of care, the patient must prove that the provider failed to meet their duty of care. One way to prove that deviation is by introducing testimony from a medical professional. By describing what a reasonable course of action would have been, they can show how the defendant deviated from reasonable medical standards.
Causation – The patient must prove that the provider’s breach of duty directly caused their injury. Despite a breach of duty, causation can’t always be proven. For example, if a doctor misdiagnoses a patient with a terminal disease, but the patient was suffering from a different but also terminal disease, they might not be able to prove their case.
Damages – This element demands that the patient suffered serious economic or other damages beyond inconvenience or dissatisfaction. Examples include medical bills for treatment of the breach, lost wages, and emotional suffering.
How to begin your medical malpractice case
Medical malpractice suits are complex and demanding cases. If you think you’ve suffered from medical malpractice, contact Adams & Corzine for a consultation. We will help you evaluate the strength of your case and the best way to move forward.