Since their actions can be the difference between life and death, health care professionals are held to very high standards by the law. If you or someone you know has been the victim of medical malpractice, you may be able to seek compensation. However, the burden of proof for a medical malpractice claim is on the patient, so they will need to be able to show that the malpractice actually occurred. Here are a few important things you need to know about proving medical malpractice.
Understanding the Legal Definition of Malpractice
Proving any sort of medical malpractice case will rely on showing that a person’s unique situation meets the legal definition of medical malpractice. In any valid medical malpractice claim, you and your attorney will need to successfully prove that four elements are present in your case:
- Duty: You will need to show that the health care professional had a reasonable duty to the patient. Proving this ensures that health care providers cannot be sued by random people they were not treating in any capacity.
- Breach: This is often one of the most important parts of a case. You will need to prove that the provider somehow failed or deviated from their duty.
- Causation: Even if you can prove the first two parts of a medical malpractice case, you will still need to show that the breached duty actually caused an issue. A provider who breaches their duty without causing medical problems cannot be sued for malpractice.
- Damages: Damage is any type of harm, such as a loss of a job, that occur as a result of the medical issue caused by a duty breach. Proving damages is the final step needed, and it shows what type of compensation you are entitled to.
Proving That a Health Care Provider Had a Duty
This is often the simplest step in a malpractice suit. You will need to prove that the professional had a responsibility to act according to the “standard of care.” This is often simply done by showing that you had a physician-patient relationship with the provider. It can typically be done by providing records of past visits with a primary care physician or showing that the defendant in the suit was otherwise responsible for a medical procedure or treatment. It can typically be done with simple medical records.
Proving That the Provider Breached Their Duty
The next step will be showing that the provider in your medical malpractice suit did not meet reasonable standards of care. In order to prove this, you will most likely need to have your case reviewed by other medical professionals in the same field. The specialist will review your case and sign an affidavit if they find that the health care provider did not provide a reasonable amount of care. This step should typically be done before you even provide a notice of intent to sue. It can sometimes be tricky to find a doctor who is well qualified and willing to serve as a witness for your case. When the case is being heard, the specialist may need to be present to explain how they would have treated you differently and why the defendant’s actions were a duty breach.
Proving Harm Was Caused by Duty Breach
Keep in mind that even if the provider did breach their duty, you cannot sue for malpractice if you were not harmed. For example, if a doctor misdiagnoses you, but another doctor provides a correct diagnosis just minutes later, before any physical harm is done, you could not sue the first doctor for malpractice. Your attorney will most likely rely on these forms of evidence when proving that you were harmed by the medical duty breach.
- Medical records
- Photos of any visible injuries
- Bills related to healthcare
- Health insurance records
- Personal accounts of the patient’s experience
- Testimony from other medical professionals
Proving the Damages Caused by the Harm
The final step will be showing that all this incompetence and medical harm resulted in some sort of actual damage. You will need to provide evidence that you lost money due to problems such as not being able to go to a job, having to pay extra medical expenses, or no longer having the same earning potential. Proving damages will help your attorney to assign a monetary value to your case.
Call Fenster & Cohen P.A. today (954) 473-1500