What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor fails to fulfill his professional duties and his actions result in a worsened condition, injury, or death of the patient. However, a number of factors need to be considered in order to determine whether the case involves medical malpractice.
Although there are many different situations that can lead to a patient filing a claim, not every mistake made by a healthcare provider will be considered medical malpractice. The medical malpractice laws are regulated by a complex set of rules. Therefore, proving that the healthcare provider was at fault requires not only legal but also medical knowledge. It is important to know that the patient, or plaintiff, must establish facts that show the doctor’s negligence and the harm that has resulted from it.
How To Prove Medical Malpractice?
Foremost, the plaintiff must prove the existence of the doctor-patient relationship. This requirement is not difficult to meet since there are numerous documents, such as prescriptions or appointments, that show the doctor was providing treatment or has established a diagnosis. Based on this information, the court is able to confirm that the doctor had a legal obligation to provide the patient with competent medical care.
The next element is proving that the healthcare provider was negligent and his actions fell below the expected medical standards. To determine what exactly these standards mean, the doctor is usually compared to other practitioners actions taken in similar circumstances. The practitioners serve as expert witnesses who testify what a competent healthcare provider would have done in the same or similar case.
Then, the plaintiff must present facts showing that negligence led to harm or injury. In showing negligence, it must be proven that the medical professional’s actions or decisions have resulted in a worsened health condition of the patient. Often, expert witnesses are asked for an opinion to help determine whether there is a connection between the harm and negligent actions of the doctor.
The last requirement involves providing the details of the harm the patient has suffered. The doctor cannot be sued if there have not been any damages. Although there are many different types of harm or injury the patient could experience, some common examples include physical pain, job loss, additional medical bills, or mental anguish.
What Are The Special Requirements in Medical Malpractice Cases?
Each state has its own set of special requirements and rules established for medical malpractice claims. In most states, there is a limited period of time when a medical malpractice lawsuit can be brought. Usually, it is between six months to two years, and this period is often referred to as the “statute of limitations.” If the plaintiff fails to file the lawsuit within the specified period of time, the case will be dismissed, even if the medical practitioner was at fault and the patient has suffered harm or injury. Furthermore, in some states, the plaintiff is also required to give the doctor notice of malpractice claim before bringing a lawsuit. Usually, the notice is in the form of an affidavit from another medical professional stating that there is a valid medical malpractice claim. Many states require that the claim is first submitted to a special medical malpractice review panel in order to determine whether malpractice has occurred. If the case goes to trial, courts often refer to the facts and findings of the review panel Finally, it is important to note that many states have a limit on the amount of non-economic damages awarded to the injured person, even if the damages have negatively affected different aspects of his life.
Medical malpractice cases are complex, highly-regulated, and difficult to prove due to various requirements that need to be fulfilled. Winning a medical malpractice lawsuit requires both legal and medical knowledge. For that reason, expert witnesses have to deliver testimony that will help decide whether the healthcare provider was negligent and caused damage to the patient. However, unless there has been an obvious mistake, the defense might argue that the plaintiff’s condition could have worsened regardless of the error. Therefore, it is important to present accurate, valid evidence that will be supported by the expert witnesses’ opinions. An experienced personal injury attorney will make sure that the victim gets the compensation he or she deserves.
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