Medical Malpractice Basics
Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed by a physician or medical professional who fails to competently perform his or her medical duties. The rules about medical malpractice, from when you must bring your lawsuit to whether you must notify the doctor ahead of time, vary from state to state and from country to country. However, there are some general principals and broad categories of rules that apply to most medical malpractice cases. Here’s an overview of the law and some of these special rules.
Basic Requirements For A Medical Malpractice Attorney To Take A Case
In order for a medical malpractice attorney to prove that medical malpractice occurred, you must be able to show all of these things:
First off, a doctor-patient relationship existed. You must show that you had a physician-patient relationship with the doctor you are suing. This means you hired the doctor and the doctor agreed to be hired. So, you can’t sue a doctor you overheard giving advice at a party. If a doctor began seeing you and treating you, it is easy to prove a physician-patient relationship existed. Questions of whether or not the relationship exists most frequently arise when a consulting physician did not treat you directly.
Your Medical Malpractice Lawyer Must Prove Negligence
The doctor has to be prove to a jury that he or she was negligent. This is the main job of a medical malpractice lawyer. If he doesn’t succeed in that goal he doesn’t get paid, it’s as simple as that. Just because you are unhappy with your treatment or results does not mean the doctor is liable for medical malpractice. The doctor must have been negligent in your diagnosis or treatment. To sue for malpractice, you must be able to show that the doctor caused you harm in a way that a competent doctor would not have. The doctor’s care is not required to be the best possible, but simply reasonably skillful and careful. Whether the doctor was reasonably skillful and careful is often at the heart of a medical malpractice claim. Almost all states require the patient to present a medical expert to discuss what standards of treatment are considered to be reasonably skillful and careful in a particular case.
The doctor’s negligence has to have resulted in the injury. Because many malpractice cases involve patients that were already sick or injured, there is often the question of whether what the doctor did, negligent or not, actually caused the harm. For example, if a patient dies after treatment for lung cancer, and the doctor did do something negligent, it could be important to prove that what the doctor did caused the death rather than the cancer. The patient must show that it is more likely than not that the doctor’s negligence directly led to the injury. In most cases the patient must have a medical expert testify before the jury that the doctor’s negligence caused the injury.
The injury has to have led to specific damages. If you aren’t injured, then what damage has been caused to you? And don’t think the old saw of “Emotional Pain And Suffering” is going to cut it with most Judges. Even if it is clear that the doctor performed below the expected standards in his or her field, the patient can’t sue for malpractice if the patient didn’t suffer any harm. Here are examples of the types of harm patients can sue for:
- Physical Pain
- Mental Anguish (harder to prove)
- Additional Medical Expenses
- Lost Work and Lost Earning Capacity.