Medical malpractice constitutes a significant slice of personal injury cases though is evaluated under a separate body of laws. Medical malpractice refers to a situation where in a patient suffers harm as a medical professional including a doctor, nurse or others fail to provide an adequate amount of care in respect to what is considered ‘Standard’.
Uniform state laws for medical malpractice don’t exist and state rules vary in different aspects from the medical service provider should be notified ahead of time to the time deadline to file a lawsuit. Despite such differences, a set of general principles and broad categories of rules apply to majority of medical malpractice cases. Let’s now take a telescopic view of the common basics and exceptions.
Medical Malpractice Claims – Basic Requirements
Proving that medical malpractice took place is very difficult and likely to take you through a tunnel of grim complexities. To prove that you have a valid medical malpractice case, it’s your responsibility to establish all the following points:
Existence of Doctor-Patient Relationship: If you want to bring a lawsuit against a doctor, you need to prove that a physician-patient relationship existed between you and the professional. In other words, you hired the expert and he/she agreed to treat you. You cannot sue a doctor on the ground of overhearing him or her at a party. Receiving treatment from a doctor will make it easier to establish a doctor-patient relationship. The question of whether such relationship exists usually arises when you are not directly treated by a consulting physician.
Negligence of Doctor: The fact that you are not happy with the kind and quality of treatment received never makes a valid med mal case. It’s important to establish the consulting doctor’s failure to perform his/her duties related to the treatment or diagnosis. The care provided by the medical professional does not necessarily be the best but must conform to the established standard. The doctor’s failure in being ‘reasonably skilled or careful’ is often the root of a medical malpractice case.
Every state requires the plaintiff to document and submit in the court a medical expert’s opinion about what should have been the appropriate medical standard of care and prove how the professional deviated from it.
Injury Caused by Doctor’s Negligence: Medical malpractice cases usually involve a patient already receiving treatment for injuries or sickness. An inevitable question is whether the physician, negligent or not, was responsible for the harm. It’s often difficult to prove if the harm, in terms of injuries or death, was actually caused due to the negligence of the doctor in question.
The patient, as a plaintiff, must establish that the doctor’s negligence or incompetence “more likely than not” directly harmed. Usually, the plaintiff is required to present another medical expert’s perspective to prove that the injury was caused due to the doctor’s negligence.
Specific Damages Caused by Injury: Even if it is proved that the doctor provided substandard care due to his/her incompetence or negligence, you won’t have a valid case if you did not suffer any harm. Keep in mind that the term ‘Harm’ is not limited to only physical pain, rather a stretched aspect that encapsulates mental anguish, lost work and earning and incurring extra medical bills.