Thousands of individuals have experienced a serious injury, illness, or even death due to medical malpractice and negligence. When this happens to you or to someone you love, it can be very traumatic. If this is the result of a negligent action or the wrongful behavior of another, the suffering and pain you experience are often even worse. Working with an experienced malpractice law firm like Janet, Janet & Suggs can help you determine whether you have a malpractice case.
What Is Malpractice?
Medical malpractice claims can arise out of negligence, diagnosis errors, birth injuries, bacterial infections, and medication errors, among other things. To prove medical malpractice, you need to show each of the following:
A Relationship Existed Between the Patient and the Medical Professional
You need to show there was a professional relationship between the patient and the medical professional. This means you hired the medical professional and the medical professional agreed to be hired. If the patient was being seen and treated by the medical professional, it’s easy to establish that this relationship exists. Questions about the relationship may arise when a consulting medical professional didn’t directly treat the patient.
The Medical Professional Was Negligent
Being unhappy with treatments or results doesn’t create sufficient grounds to pursue a medical malpractice case. To bring a malpractice suit, you need to be able to show the medical professional caused harm in such a way another competent medical professional, under the same circumstances, wouldn’t have. A medical professional isn’t required to provide the best care possible—just to meet the “standard of care” that the average, prudent health care provider in similar circumstances would meet.
The Medical Professional’s Negligence Caused Injury
Health care defendants will often question whether what the medical professional did, regardless of negligence, was the cause of the harm. Part of a medical malpractice case may involve ruling out other potential causes.
The Injury Led to Specific Damages
Even if a medical professional clearly performed below expected standards in their field, you can’t sue for malpractice if you or your loved one didn’t suffer harm. Types of harm can include:
- Past medical bills
- Anticipated future medical care (including physical therapy/rehabilitation)
- Lost wages for missed work
- Lost future earning capacity
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Physical pain
- Emotional suffering
- Funeral and burial expenses
What Are Common Types of Medical Malpractice?
Many situations can result in a medical malpractice claim, with many falling into one of the categories listed below.
Failure to Diagnose
If a competent medical professional would have discovered the illness or made a different diagnosis than the one that was made, and the correct diagnosis would’ve led to a more favorable outcome, you may have a viable malpractice case.
Delay of Treatment
Medical professionals may be busy, but they should not be too preoccupied to provide proper care for all patients. If a medical professional fails to make appropriate medical interventions in a timely manner, it can have serious consequences for patients.
If a medical professional treats the patient in a way that a reasonable medical professional in that field should not, it can cause serious, permanent injuries. You may also have a malpractice case if the medical professional selects the appropriate treatment but incompetently administers it.
Lack of Informed Consent
The duty of informed consent requires medical professionals to warn their patients of any known risks a course of treatment or procedure may have. If the patient, once informed, would have decided not to move forward with the procedure, you may have a malpractice case if the procedure harms that patient in a way the medical professional should have warned them about.
What Isn’t Malpractice?
Medical procedures can sometimes have adverse outcomes that couldn’t have been avoided or predicted. If a loved one experiences an unusual complication, it doesn’t necessarily mean the medical professional did anything wrong. Even the most careful or skillful medical professionals experience unforeseen difficulties.
Sometimes medical mistakes are easy to spot, such as a surgeon amputating the wrong limb or a surgeon leaving an instrument inside a patient. However, most errors aren’t this obvious.
How to Know If You Have a Malpractice Case
As the person bringing the claim, it’s your responsibility to establish certain things in litigating a malpractice case, ideally with the help of any attorney. When considering if you have grounds for a case, consider the following:
Did the Medical Professional Fail To Live Up to Their Duty of Care?
You need to establish that the medical professional owed the patient a duty of care. The medical professional’s duty is the same as you would expect from any other medical professional in similar circumstances.
Was There a Breach of Duty?
Medical malpractice happens when harm to a patient is due to a breach in the duty of care the medical professional owed the patient.
Was There an Injury as a Result of the Breach?
You need to draw a direct line between the breach and the injury. Sometimes this can be very obvious, but other times it’s more complicated.
You must be able to present compelling evidence with a medical malpractice case. An experienced malpractice law firm like JJS will help you locate thorough medical records and medical experts willing to testify about the extent of the injury and medical error.Are you wondering if you have a malpractice case? Complete our online form to have your case evaluated and schedule a free online consultation today.