How Do I Prove Negligence in My Medical Malpractice Claim?
Medical malpractice suits are the result of a doctor breaching a patient’s standard of care through an intentional act or an act that lacked taking reasonable action. To file suit over medical malpractice, a lawyer must prove there has been a violation of “The Four Ds”:
- Duty of care that was owed to the patient
- Dereliction of duty by the physician
- Direct cause that the violation caused injury to the patient
- Damages the patient suffered as a result of injury
1. Duty of Care
Duty of care is one of the first elements a lawyer must prove in a medical malpractice case. This means that the physician owed the patient a standard of care that any other doctor would have given to a patient. Doctors are expected to owe their patients proper care and treatment without interference from their own personal goals, ambitions, or desires.
2. Dereliction of Duty
Any breach of duty refers to a violation of the standard of care due to an action that a normal person would consider unreasonable or unethical. This can also apply to negligent or careless behavior. Some examples of this include:
- Leaving a medical instrument inside a person
- Prescribing the wrong medication
- Operating on the wrong patient
- Performing surgery on the incorrect body part
3. Direct Cause
This element requires proof that the physician’s breach of duty directly led to the plaintiff’s injury. This means there must be evidence that the injury was a direct result of malpractice or negligence as opposed to an unforeseeable event unrelated to the defendant’s actions. For instance, if the defendant’s actions were unexpected or unplanned, then it is unlikely there would be enough evidence to prove the injury was a direct consequence of their actions.
Damages refer to the economic and non-economic losses incurred due to an injury. Damages include physical injury, medical bills, lost wages, emotional suffering, and any other consequences that directly result from the defendant’s actions. Financial compensation is typically awarded to the plaintiff based on the amount of damages sustained. Generally, damages are easier to prove in the case of economic losses, although victims with non-economic damages can still be awarded financial compensation.
How to Prove Malpractice
Medical practitioners rarely, if ever, come forward to admit medical malpractice or negligence. It’s extremely vital to speak up for yourself if you have been a victim of a medical professional’s wrongdoing. Furthermore, hiring an attorney with experience in medical malpractice suits will ensure that you have a team of legal experts assisting you with the following:
- Gathering the proper evidence, including medical records and tests
- Finding expert medical professionals to testify for your case
- Uncovering previous malpractice suits or claims against the defendant
- Accurately forming a timeline of events
Additionally, a law firm will create a letter of demands to present to the defendant’s insurance company for compensation. They will also negotiate with the defense’s insurance until a fair settlement is reached.
Medical malpractice suits require extensive proof that a doctor has violated the standard of care for a patient. To successfully win a case or receive a fair settlement, the victim must also prove that the physician has intentionally breached their duty of care, that the breach directly led to their injury, and that they suffered damages due to the injury.
It can take time and legal expertise to prepare a malpractice case properly. Additionally, each state has its own statute of limitations dictating the time frame a court case must be filed in. Hiring a lawyer as soon as possible is the best way to ensure that the doctor who harmed you will be held accountable for their actions.