When a patient is harmed by a doctor or another medical professional because of incompetence, this is known as medical malpractice. The rules regarding medical malpractice and when you must bring forth your lawsuit and notify the doctor vary from state to state. There are, however, general rules that will apply to most cases. In this blog post, we will give an overview of the law and the special rules.
Basic Requirements for a Claim
In a medical malpractice case, you must prove the following:
There was a doctor-patient relationship. You must prove that you had a doctor-patient relationship with the medical professional that you have a lawsuit against, meaning you hired the doctor to treat you and the doctor agreed. For instance, if you overhear a doctor give advice at a party or event, you cannot sue him or her. It is easy to prove a relationship existed if a doctor began to see you and treat you. Usually if there are questions about whether or not the relationship existed, it is because the physician did not treat you directly.
Negligence. Simply being unhappy about the treatment you received does not mean the doctor was negligent. If you want to win the case, the doctor must have been negligent, or in other words, not reasonably careful or skillful. Suing for malpractice also means that you need to show that the doctor caused harm in a way another professional would not have under the same circumstances. It’s important to note that a doctor’s care is not required to be the best possible, rather reasonable and careful. Most states require that patient present a medical expert to discuss standards of treatment and what is considered to be reasonably skillful and careful.
Negligence caused the injury. Many cases involve patients who were already sick or injured prior to being treated and questions will often arise that ask whether or not the doctor actually caused the harm. For instance, if a patient dies after receiving treatment for something like lung cancer, it may be hard to prove that the patient died from negligence rather than the cancer itself. Therefore, the patient needs to show that it is “more likely than not” that the medical professional’s incompetence caused the injury. In most cases, the patient will need another doctor to testify for them
The injury led to certain damages. Whether it’s clear or not that the doctor performed below the expected level of care, there needs to be a specific damage. Examples may be:
- Physical pain
- Mental distress
- Additional medical bills,
- Loss of earnings at work
How to Get Help
It may be in your best interest to seek help from an experienced lawyer who deals with medical malpractice lawsuits. This specific area of law is highly regulated and has many complex rules that vary from state to state.
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