Medical Malpractice Cases: Proving Negligence and Seeking Compensation

Medical malpractice is a distressing truth that can cause immense physical, emotional, and financial harm to medical patients. This happens a lot more than we would like to believe. In fact, the American Medical Association claims that one in three physicians have been sued. When medical professionals fail to meet the appropriate standard of care that is expected of them, patients can be left with a life-threatening aftermath. When these circumstances arise, proving negligence and seeking compensation is crucial and time sensitive.

Understanding Medical Malpractice: Elements and Proof of Negligence

Medical malpractice occurs when any healthcare provider such as a doctor, nurse, or hospital fails to meet the standard of care expected of them, directly resulting in injury, harm, or in the worst-case scenario, death to their patient. In these cases, negligence is the key element. For your medical malpractice case to be successful, negligence must be proven. In order to do so, you must establish these criteria:

  1. Duty of Care: The healthcare professional must owe a duty of care to the patient, meaning they are responsible for providing competent and appropriate medical treatment.
  2. Breach of Duty: By breaching the duty of care, the provider acted in the manner that a reasonable and skilled professional in similar circumstances would not have.
  3. Causation: The breach of duty must have had a direct correlation to the patient’s harm or injury. In other words, if the medical professional were to have not acted in a negligent way, the injury would not have happened.
  4. Damages: The patient must suffer quantifiable harm as a result of the negligence, which can include physical pain, emotional distress, medical expenses, and or lost income,

Common Reasons for Lawsuits: Understanding Medical Malpractice Triggers

There are many different reasons why medical malpractice cases can be brought against a doctor or medical professional. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, the primary reason that doctors get sued is failure to diagnose or delay in diagnosis. An example seen often is a delay in the diagnosis of breast cancer patients due to the excessive reliance on falsely negative mammograms. Other claims can range from surgical errors to failure to diagnose genetic abnormalities in pregnancy. Every physician should follow the standard of care, and when they do not and cause harm, the tort system is there to allow in the injured party to seek justice.

The Process of Proving Negligence: Gathering Evidence and Expert Testimony

To prove negligence in a medical malpractice case, a patient or their legal representative must gather evidence and expert testimony to support their case. Reviewing the patient’s medical records is the first vital step to determining whether the medical provider acted negligently. The examination is done by expert witnesses or other medical professionals to identify any instances where the standard of care was breached. This expert testimony is essential to the success of these cases because they provide professional opinions and help a jury thoroughly understand the logistics of the case. These qualified and experienced professionals do much more than just review medical records. Finally, the establishment of causation is vital to the establishment of negligence because it rules out other factors that may have caused the harm. This may require further expert testimony or medical evidence. In New Jersey, physician boarded in the same manner as the negligent doctor must issue an Affidavit of Merit in order to a case to be filed.

Compensation for Malpractice: Types of Recoverable Damages

If the patient and their legal counsel are able to successfully prove malpractice, there are multiple types of compensation they may be eligible for. Economic damages can cover medical expenses, lost wages, and any necessary future medical care related to the relevant injury. Non-economic damages include combinations for emotional distress, pain and suffering, and loss of quality of life. Punitive damages may be awarded to punish the negligent medical provider and deter similar situations from occurring in the future. Finally, if the malpractice results in the death of a patient, wrongful death compensation can be awarded to the surviving family to cover funeral expenses, loss of companionship, and more.

Although medical malpractice cases are emotionally taxing, the injuries resulting therefrom are always permanent and potentially life threatening. Medical malpractice cases play a critical role in our healthcare system, aiming to hold healthcare professionals accountable for their actions and to provide much-needed relief to those who have suffered due to negligence. These legal proceedings not only seek compensation for the physical and emotional pain endured by patients but also encourage higher standards of care and improved safety protocols within the medical field. By advocating for justice in medical malpractice cases, we contribute to a healthcare system where every patient’s well-being is a top priority, fostering a safer and more compassionate medical environment for all.

Harrell Law Firm: Your Advocates in Medical Malpractice Cases

Facing the aftermath of medical malpractice is daunting. If you or a loved one have suffered due to negligence, don’t navigate this complex journey alone. Contact our expert legal team at Harrell Law Firm. We specialize in advocating for victims of medical malpractice, tirelessly seeking the compensation and justice you deserve. Reach out today for a free consultation and let us guide you toward a path of recovery and justice.

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Kenneth M. Harrell

Founder, Harrell Injury Law

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