Most people have probably heard of medical malpractice, in which a doctor or larger health system causes harm to a patient through negligence. That might be the extent of your knowledge of medical malpractice, and that’s okay. What you may not know is that there is a whole legal practice area devoted to proving that medical malpractice took place and getting victims (or their families) their due financial compensation for these healthcare mistakes.
Proving medical malpractice, however, involves more steps than you may have thought. An attorney needs to gather evidence related to the situation and submit a claim as part of a medical malpractice lawsuit. This process can be a bit complicated. If you now find yourself searching online for “medical malpractice lawyer near me,” keep reading to learn what will be needed to create the best conditions for success in your case.
What Medical Malpractice Involves
Before getting to the legal proof needed in a medical malpractice lawsuit, let’s take a moment to get familiar with what actually constitutes medical malpractice. In general, medical malpractice is a doctor’s or other healthcare professional’s violation of a reasonable standard of care in relation to a patient. A standard of care is defined as medical practices that reasonable people would believe to be appropriate and acceptable. The doctor’s negligence must have caused this violation, and that violation must have caused the patient to become injured. Typically, without negligence, a medical malpractice claim cannot be made.
For reference, some examples of medical malpractice include misdiagnosis, unnecessary or poorly performed surgery, failure to follow-up with a patient properly or at all, failure to test a patient properly, and interpreting lab reports erroneously.
Proving True Medical Malpractice
Once you contact a medical malpractice attorney in your area, your case will essentially boil down to proving that several specific factors were present when you were injured. Here are the main points that you and your lawyer will work on together:
- You must have had an established professional relationship with your doctor. This is as easy as visiting a doctor even once as a patient, and of course being treated by that doctor. A man could not sue for medical malpractice if he witnessed a doctor treating someone else, took the doctor’s advice to the patient in that case, and became injured because of it. In this situation, the doctor was not knowingly in a relationship with the man and cannot be blamed if medical advice given to one person did not work for another person.
- You and your lawyer must prove your doctor was negligent in providing care. It is important to understand a distinction here. A treatment not working out the way a doctor and patient had hoped is not grounds for a malpractice lawsuit. The same is true when a patient is simply displeased with something about the doctor or treatment. Negligence, then, must constitute something more. In malpractice cases, it is described as a healthcare professional’s divergence from a reasonable caliber of care. This does not mean that a doctor’s knowledge must exceed that of every other doctor, or that the treatment must be the most progressive. The doctor must have made a mistake that a more competent doctor would not have made. As stated above, examples include misdiagnosing a disease or botching a surgery.
- The doctor’s negligence must be connected to the patient’s injury. To win a medical malpractice case, a lawyer must be able to show that the doctor’s negligence led to the patient getting injured. Malpractice injuries can be anything from physical suffering to mental anxiety to wages lost while being unable to work. It is important to note that a patient’s injury must have resulted from the doctor’s negligence, not from the medical condition for which the patient was being treated. Differentiating between possible root causes of a patient’s injuries can be difficult, especially for laypersons. This is why a medical expert is often called on to testify in a lawsuit as to whether the doctor in question performed negligently. In the end, if a malpractice review board determines that the evidence proves the occurrence of malpractice (or that it is at least likely that malpractice took place), the plaintiff wins the case.
- Your injuries must be converted to numbers. Winning a medical malpractice case means securing financial compensation for your pain and suffering, lost wages, etc. But how does one quantify anxiety, or physical pain? To start, the things that can be quantified will be quantified, such as the costs of the medical care that was necessary to undo the damage done by the negligent doctor. Pain and suffering are more difficult to assign numbers to, but compensation is calculated using injury severity and the amount of medical costs accumulated by the victim.
You can see the level of involvement in generating and winning a medical malpractice claim. This is why you’ll need a good medical malpractice lawyer near you. If you ever find yourself in such a situation, you’ll be happy you contacted an attorney with the expertise and experience to fight for you.