Proving Medical Malpractice
When you go to the doctor, many times you are literally putting your life in the hands of another human being. Although we hope that our doctor is not only well-trained, competent, and experienced, we also hope that he is not cutting corners for the sake of efficiency. In most cases, physicians live up to these hopes and oftentimes exceed them. Sadly, however, this is not always the case.
Even Good Doctors Make Mistakes
Many doctors are correct when they say lawsuits cause them to walk on egg shells when it comes to treating patients. Nevertheless, those we entrust our very lives to are held to a higher standard of care than the average individual. A doctor is held to a professional standard of care. This means he must act in a way that a typical physician (who has the requisite degree of learning, skill, knowledge, and ability) would have acted under the circumstances. Doctors who fail to comport with the standard of care breach this sacrosanct duty that they owes to their patients. When this breach of duty causes an injury to a patient, the law holds the doctor accountable for the damage he negligently inflicts.
Know Where You Stand
If you believe that you are the victim of medical malpractice, you ought to know right off the bat that you have an uphill battle. Beside the legal hurdles and tremendous amount of evidence that you are required to muster, juries are quite unsympathetic in this day and age to those who sue their doctors. Many juries prejudge plaintiffs as fakers or disgruntled patients who did not get the results they wanted. More often than not, attorneys can strike biased individuals during jury selection, but not everyone who is biased gets stricken. Therefore, before you begin to prove your case, it is crucial to know exactly where you stand in the eyes of jurors. Unfortunately, when it comes to medical malpractice lawsuits, the victim is rarely given the benefit of the doubt.
Proving Medical Malpractice
From a legal standpoint, medical malpractice requires proving four main things.
- First, you must show that the doctor (or other member of the medical community) you are suing owed you a duty of care. This is not too difficult to prove.It is a generally accepted rule that a doctor owes a high duty of care to his patients. Thus, all you need to prove to establish a duty is that the person truly was a doctor.
- Second, you need to show that he breached his duty. Breach is much tougher to show. After all, not every mistake is a breach of a duty. Obviously, operating on the wrong leg or leaving an instrument inside a patient is a glaring breach of a duty. Nevertheless, it is vital to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney about whether the actions your doctor took (or failed to take) amounted to a breach of his duty.
- Next, that breach must have been the cause of your injuries. When we mean the cause of your injuries, we mean the genuine cause. Not simply a step in the causal chain or something that set off a triggering effect. It must have been the case that but for the breach, you would not have been injured. Also, your injury must have been a foreseeable consequence of the breach.
- Lastly, you need to prove that you suffered damage. This is usually done through medical records as well as medical bills and expert testimony.
Adam H. Rosenblum is licensed to practice law in New York and New Jersey. He often handles personal injury cases dealing medical malpractice or individuals who are injured in a car accident.