While there are many different legal terms that apply to a medical malpractice case and many different procedural requirements that must be satisfied, at its core, there are a few simple fundamentals that must be proven through the introduction of evidence. In order to succeed at trial or negotiate a settlement that adequately reflects the damage that was done as a result of the doctor or other medical professional’s negligence, it is necessary to demonstrate some basic elements. Here are the things that must be proven:
There Was a Doctor-Patient Relationship
Although a doctor-patient relationship is the most common one for a medical malpractice action, in reality, there are a number of relationships between an individual and a healthcare provider that will form the basis for a medical malpractice case. In order to bring a malpractice action, it is necessary to demonstrate a relationship that satisfies the legal requirement of an intention on the part of both parties to create an agreement whereby the individual seeks advice and treatment and the medical professional provides the care. There are situations where the care is provided without specific agreement, such as an emergency room visit, where the relationship is deemed to exist even though there was no specific acknowledgment of intent to form that association.
The Healthcare Provider Breached His Duty of Care
This idea is where most of the complexity of a medical malpractice lies. In order to recover damages, it is necessary to show the standard of care that applies to a specific medical professional performing a particular task. This medical standard is established by an expert, typically a medical professional in the same field as the defendant, with established experience that is acceptable to the court. The expert sets forth the applicable standard, discusses how the doctor or other healthcare provider’s actions deviated from the standard of care, and then asserts how the deviation was the actual and proximate cause of the injuries suffered by the plaintiff. The testimony of the expert is critical to success in most medical malpractice cases.
The medical standard of care usually is defined as the level of care that a reasonable and prudent medical professional with a similar background, including education, training, and experience practicing in a comparable community, would have provided under the same circumstances. The standard takes into account that there are going to be differences between a solo practitioner in a small town versus a doctor in a large city with far more resources. At its heart, the standard is used to determine whether someone else would have done the same thing in the same situation. A preventable medical mistake is viewed as a deviation from the standard. There are times when a trier-of-fact determines that another medical professional would have made the same mistake under the same circumstances, leading to finding that there was no malpractice.
The Patient Suffered Actual Harm
The final stage of a medical malpractice case is to prove the extent of the harm suffered by the patient. There are cases where there was a mistake made by a medical professional that rises to the level of medical malpractice, but there was no harm to the patient or the amount of harm was negligible. In these cases, a medical malpractice case would not be advisable. However, there are other times when a person suffers serious and long-term injury as a result of a preventable medical mistake. It is necessary to have specific information to demonstrate the nature and extent of the harm in these cases. This is done through the introduction of medical records, which is one of the reasons why it is important to seek medical care from someone other than the healthcare provider who made the mistake as soon as possible. The medical expert typically discusses the nature of the harm and how it would impact a person’s life.
A large part of proving that the patient suffered injury is demonstrating by a preponderance of the evidence, which is a lower standard than the criminal beyond a reasonable doubt, that the person experienced quantifiable harm as the direct and proximate result of the doctor’s, or other healthcare professional’s, actions. This may include demonstrating that there were injuries that cause the person debilitating pain recognized by an award for pain and suffering, in addition to lost wages and money that no longer can be earned, medical bills, and funds for long-term care, assistance, and services that would not have been necessary but for the malpractice. There are many other miscellaneous expenses that may be factored into a damages award, including costs necessary to make changes to a home or vehicle to accommodate the injury.
Stern Law, PLLC Knows How to Build a Strong Case
There are many nuances involved in the development of a medical malpractice strategy and the implementation of that plan in order to get a person the compensation that he or she deserves in the face of the severe harm suffered because of medical negligence. At Stern Law, PLLC, our attorney has spent more than 30 years learning the most effective means of getting our clients the results that the deserve after devastating medical malpractice. In addition to advocating for clients, we serve as a resource for anyone who may have been impacted by the negligence of a healthcare provider, placing compassionate and committed staff on call to answer questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call us at 1-844-808-7529 or fill out an online contact form in order to learn how we can help you get through this difficult time.