An Attorney’s Guide to Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
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Medical malpractice occurs when a medical provider deviates from an accepted standard of care, causing a patient further harm or even death. A special relationship exists between medical staff and patients, promoting trust and encouraging a healthy level of care. When that trust is breached, and injury occurs, the results can be devastating, and it can take the services of a medical malpractice attorney to recover damages.

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports that medical negligence is one of the leading causes of death in America, right up there with heart disease and cancer. Over $40 billion was paid out to the victims of surgical mistakes between 2010 and 2019.

Let’s explore the four most important elements of a medical malpractice lawsuit. 

Attorneys Will Emphasize the Duty Owed to the Patient

A medical malpractice attorney must first prove that a relationship existed between the patient and the healthcare provider and the patient had a reasonable expectation of care. This is typically the easiest element to prove in a medical malpractice case. 

Whenever a patient seeks care, a relationship is duly established, and a duty is owed by the healthcare provider. That provider may be a physician, a surgeon, or a provider in any healthcare or emergency setting. A duty is owed to the patient to provide a reasonable standard of care that should improve, or be reasonably intended to improve, that patient’s health. 

They Can Prove Deviation from the Standard of Care

The ‘standard of care term definition will differ by jurisdiction, but a medical malpractice attorney will be familiar with the local standard of care expected. Generally speaking, the standard of care refers to the care that another medical professional in a similar situation would have provided.

Sometimes the deviation from the standard of care is egregious and obvious, like when a surgeon amputates the wrong limb. Other times, a medical malpractice attorney will have multiple professionals review medical records to establish a breach of trust and complete deviation from the standard of care.  

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Highlight Injuries or Damages Caused by Such Deviation

In a concept known as proximate causation, it is up to the patient to show a relationship between the healthcare provider’s deviation from the standard of care and their injuries. If a healthcare provider’s deviation from the standard of care doesn’t cause harm to the patient, then it is little more than a quality of care concern. 

A medical malpractice attorney knows that any deviation from the standard of care is only an alleged breach of trust until a direct relationship to the patient’s injury can be established. Of course, any time you have concerns, you should reach out to a law firm for professional legal advice.

Link The Relationship Between Malpractice and Damages

The final element in a medical malpractice case is about putting a monetary value on the damages. Suppose a patient has consequently healed despite medical negligence. In that case, there are damages to award, even if a medical malpractice attorney is able to prove the other three elements of the case.

Monetary damages are relatively easy for the courts to calculate and administer. Punitive damages typically are not awarded. The courts reserve those for especially egregious cases, like wrongful limb amputation. 

Partner with an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney

Medical malpractice suits can become quite complex, but those are the basic components that must be established. A thorough review of medical records often reveals avoidable errors that cause damage or harm. A medical malpractice attorney can have your medical records viewed by an independent medical consultant and conduct a thorough investigation to determine if you may have been the victim of medical malpractice.

If you suspect you may have been the victim of medical malpractice, the best thing you can do is seek legal counsel. You will need to heal physically and emotionally while you deal with changing family dynamics, outrageous medical bills, and everyday life. You need a skilled medical malpractice attorney who will give your family the personal attention it needs to navigate the turbulent waters of the justice system during this difficult time.

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