Medical malpractice is defined as the failure of a health care professional to provide appropriate treatment to a patient. This includes the inability to take a proper course of action or the rendering of substandard treatment that results to further injury, harm, and even death of a patient.
Things to Note About Medical Malpractice Cases
Medical malpractice cases in the United States are prevalent. According to statistics, any health care professional is bound to be subjected to this at least once in their career. As a potential patient, this is concerning. What can you do to protect yourself should this happen to you?
First, it is essential to understand that medical malpractice law is not under the country’s federal law. Instead, it is under the authority of individual states. This means that there could be significant differences among the different states’ prevailing law.
If you intend to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, it is also crucial to know the Statute of Limitations that applies to your state. The Statute of Limitation is a law that limits the length of time you can go to court and start a medical malpractice case. This includes filing a complaint against the doctor or health care facility and, in some states, filing an affidavit wherein an expert witness or your lawyer declares that your case has merit.
Knowing the Statute of Limitation of the state you are in is crucial. You must gather the evidence within the specified period or risk losing the right to sue.
Finally, there should be sufficient evidence to support a medical malpractice claim – as in any other legal procedure. Though there are a variety of guidelines between states, there are general principles that apply to most cases.
Concrete Evidence That Can Help Support Your Medical Malpractice Case
Below is the list of evidence you need for a medical malpractice claim:
- An Established Doctor-Patient Relationship
There should be a clear indication that the doctor or the health care professional has a legal duty toward the patient. A professional relationship has been established between both parties, wherein the physician was hired and had agreed to treat the patient.
The legal duty is assumed when the doctor begins treating you. This includes certain doctor-patient relationships wherein emergency services to an accident victim are provided; a doctor treats his colleague’s patient as a substitute, or a doctor covering a clinic or facility treating indigent patients.
Specific policies promote medical assistance to indigent patients. The same goes for intervention during emergencies by medical bystanders. Though there is a proven relationship and a reasonable duty of care, the degree of liability should the treatment cause damages is limited.
- The Doctor Provided Substandard Care
To prove a breach of professional duty, the definition of “Standard of Care” should be clarified. This concept may vary between jurisdictions; however, generally defined, “Standard of Care” is reasonable care and what another similar professional would have provided to a patient. For this to be established, expert witness testimony is paramount since laypersons are not versed in distinguishing the subtleties of medical care.
However, there are instances in which expert opinion or testimony is no longer needed. The legal term for this is res ipsa loquitur, Latin for “the thing speaks for itself.” For cases or legal proceedings like this, the jury can proceed to determine the damages because the breach of duty is apparent.
- The Doctor’s Negligence Has Caused the Injury
In a medical malpractice lawsuit, the plaintiff should present a direct effect of the alleged negligence committed by the healthcare professional. This evidence is subject to scrutiny.
For example, in the case where a terminal patient is dying, proving that the doctor’s incompetence caused the death rather than the patient succumbing to the sickness can be difficult. The need for a medical expert to testify that the doctor’s action caused the death is imperative.
- The Injury Caused Damages
A patient cannot just sue for medical malpractice if the doctor executed a procedure below the expected standard. One of the shreds of evidence needed for a medical malpractice claim is the existence of harm suffered by the patient.
Damages such as the patient’s loss of ability to work and earn a living due to the harm caused by the malpractice is an example. More common damages include physical pain, psychological distress, and additional medical bills.
Is Your Evidence Enough to Sustain a Medical Malpractice Claim?
If you believe that you have experienced medical malpractice and would like to take legal action but are unsure if you have enough evidence to sustain your claim, contact us today at (517) 347-6900. We can guide you to ease your way through the process. Get in touch with us at your earliest convenience.