Medical malpractice occurs when someone is harmed due to a doctor, hospital, or other healthcare providers’ negligent actions. A negligent action could include errors in treatment, diagnosis, and health management. Different states have different directives about when you should notify your doctor of an impending medical malpractice lawsuit. However, all malpractice claims follow the same general principles.
General Principles of Proving a Medical Malpractice Case
If the following can be proven, you’ve got a valid malpractice claim. You can click here for more information about medical practitioners that may be liable for malpractice.
1. A patient-doctor relationship existed
To prove that malpractice occurred, you must show that the doctor had a relationship with the patient. This means that the doctor being sued was hired by the patient, and there was an agreement between the two. You can’t sue a doctor who was not treating you as a patient. It’s not easy to prove that a doctor-patient relationship existed when the doctor was consulting and didn’t directly attend to your case.
2. The medical practitioner was negligent
Simply because you feel unsatisfied and unhappy with the results or how the doctor treated you doesn’t warrant a medical malpractice lawsuit. You have to prove that your doctor was careless and negligent in the way they handled your diagnosis or your treatment. You should also be able to prove that the doctor handled your case in a way that another competent physician wouldn’t have in the same circumstances.
A doctor is not required by the law to be perfect. However, they must be careful, competent, and skillful in the way they handle patients. The best way to prove negligence in court is to bring in a competent medical expert who can explain the suitable standard of care and demonstrate how your physician strayed from that standard.
3. Prove that the physician’s carelessness caused your injury
Because most malpractice lawsuits involve previously injured or sick individuals, the most important question to answer is whether the doctor’s negligence could have caused the injury or it was a result of the patient’s previous illness. For example, if a doctor was negligent when treating someone suffering from pancreatic cancer and they passed away, it could be challenging to prove that the death was due to the doctor’s negligent actions and not the cancer.
In this case, you must prove that the injuries sustained resulted from the doctor’s actions. This is done by bringing in an expert to testify that the injuries sustained resulted from the doctor’s negligence.
4. The injury caused damages
If you don’t suffer any harm from a doctor’s careless actions, you can’t sue them for malpractice. Below are examples of damages a patient can sue for in a malpractice claim:
- Mental stress suffered
- Physical pain
- Additional treatment costs and medical bills
- Loss of wages
Examples of medical malpractice
Below are examples of negligent actions that could lead to a medical a malpractice lawsuit:
- Ignoring and misreading lab results
- Premature discharge
- Surgical errors
- Lack of aftercare and follow-up
- Improper prescription dosage
- Unnecessary surgery
- Disregarding a patient’s medical history
- Failure to recognize a patient’s symptoms
Contact an attorney immediately
Most states have a statute of limitation for medical malpractice lawsuits. This means that the state law has a specific window in which to file your lawsuit after an injury occurs. If you fail to meet this deadline, your claim will be denied. For this reason, it’s essential to contact an attorney immediately.
An attorney will help you collect the necessary documents and do some investigation to prove that the malpractice happened. Sometimes the records have to be obtained from numerous hospitals and doctors, which can take weeks. Once your attorney has compiled all the relevant records, they could hire a medical expert to determine if malpractice happened. This will determine if the attorney will file the suit or not.