With about eight years of schooling under their belt, it’s not uncommon to expect the best from our doctors. After all, they’re paid for their knowledge and expertise, so we usually trust their solutions for how to take care of any illness or injury.
But doctors are humans, and like all humans, they make mistakes. In other professions, mistakes usually mean missing a deadline or sending an email too soon. But in the medical field? Well, one “small” mistake could cost a victim their life and/or a whole unnecessary pile of extra medical bills. Medical professionals have little to no room to make any mistakes, particularly when it comes to treating a patient.
Were you a victim of medical malpractice? Did you get stuck with more medical expenses than you can afford for procedures that were ineffective or unnecessary, or maybe even harmed you? Before consulting a lawyer and filing a claim, make sure your case meets all the criteria for a valid medical malpractice claim.
What is the criteria for medical malpractice?
When you consult with a skilled medical malpractice attorney for a consultation of your claim, you will review your case as a whole to make sure the basic qualifications of a malpractice case exist.
A formal relationship between doctor and patient existed.
This is an easy qualification to prove. A formal relationship means that the patient saw the doctor in a professional setting for advice and treatment. For example, if your neighbor, who is a doctor, made a guess as to why you were getting migraines each night that turned out to be incorrect, you would lack evidence of an official doctor/patient relationship, and the malpractice claim would prove invalid.
The doctor was negligent.
Negligence can be more difficult to prove, and this requirement is often what blurs the line between what is and is not malpractice. If your doctor was negligent, it means he or she did (or did not) do something that any competent, skilled doctor would have done differently. Just because you experienced a bad side effect from a medication or a treatment didn’t work for you, you do not automatically have a malpractice case.
How can you prove negligence? If you were treated by another professional who could properly identify your condition and correct treatments, then you can use this person as a medical testimony in court.
The negligence was the cause of your harm.
Aside from negligence, you need to prove it was the direct cause of your damages. This requirement is also challenging to prove, since an appointment with a doctor means something was already wrong. This can be a problem if the damages and illness/injury mimic each other. For example, if a chemo patient underwent an unnecessary procedure that resulted in further nausea, the physical damages may be buffered by the fact that nausea was already experienced.
Just like proving the doctor was negligent, the easiest way to prove this is by consulting with a medical professional who can give a testimony on how the negligence caused direct harm, and what could have been done to prevent it.
The harm resulted in damages.
How did you suffer from the negligence? This part of the case may serve as the most important requirements, as it’s the root of why you are suing the medical practice. Damages aren’t limited to physical repercussions. Mental anguish, unnecessary medical bills and lost time that could have been spent working or earning money all qualify for damages from medical malpractice.
Now that you have read through the basic components to malpractice cases, it’s time to identify exactly how the doctor mistreated you. There are three most common causes of medical malpractice that you likely will be suing for.
Common Causes of Medical Malpractice
There are typically three popular cases for medical malpractice.
An incorrect diagnosis probably ranks as the number one cause of medical malpractice, likely because it’s unfortunately the easiest mistake to make. However, a misdiagnosis can be costly, both physically and and financially. If another doctor can explain how a misdiagnosis was negligent, and that another competent doctor could have made the correct diagnosis, you have enough evidence to earn compensation for your damages.
Perhaps the diagnosis was correct, but the treatment procedures were ineffective, unnecessary or harmful. Improper treatment also means administering the treatment procedure incorrectly, even if the treatment itself was correct. It also encompasses an incorrect prescription order, particularly one that caused further illness or injury.
Failure to Warn Patient of Risks
Doctors understand they have a duty to explain all risks involved with treatments and procedures. Explaining these risks thoroughly is crucial, because patients may want to opt out of the procedure beforehand after knowing the risks. Without identifying these risks, patients lose that right and can become injured without any warning.
Are you able to pinpoint one of these causes as the root of your damages? Call a skilled medical malpractice attorney immediately for a solid legal representation that will provide you with the compensation you deserve. Be aware of the additional requirements of medical malpractice cases to best succeed in your case.
Malpractice cases must be brought to court fairly quickly.
These cases come with an expiration date before becoming invalid, usually ranging from six months to two years.
Possible review by a panel necessary in some states.
Many states require that the patient present their case to a panel before going to court. The panel will determine if the plaintiff actually has a valid case based off the arguments, evidence, medical testimonies, etc. While presenting your case to a panel is not an alternative to filing an official lawsuit, it is an obstacle many states make the patient go through to prevent invalid claims from going to court.
Special notice of malpractice claim given to doctor may be necessary. In addition to a review panel, some states require that the patient presents a notice to the doctor or office stating that he or she is suing for malpractice with a basic description.
- A limit on damage compensation can be set. Depending on the state the case occurs in, there may a state limit on the amount awarded to patients.