Are you wondering whether you’ve been a victim of Medical malpractice? As it turns out, there’s a very straightforward set of criteria that can help you make the determination. Often, things at the doctor’s office or hospital don’t proceed exactly as one might hope, but was the experience Malpractice or was it merely unfortunate?
In order to qualify as medical malpractice, there are four elements that must be present.
Existence of a Legal Duty
Before you can prove medical malpractice, you must first demonstrate that a doctor had a duty to care for you. This is usually established by demonstrating the doctor/patient relationship. Since these relationships are usually entered into mutually and willingly, they are easy to prove—in most cases, you and your doctor have signed a document that will provide evidence.
Breach of Duty
The second, and perhaps most pivotal, element of a medical malpractice suit is breach of duty. In layman’s terms, you must be able to point to something the doctor did wrong. Breach of duty may take several forms. Negligence, or the failure to diagnose or administer treatment for something, would fall under breach of duty, but so would the administration of improper treatment. To prove breach of duty, a lawyer will compare your doctor’s care with how other doctors would have acted in the same circumstances.
Causal Connection Between the Breach and Injury
Even if you can prove that your doctor neglected to administer proper treatment, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have a case. Now you must draw a causal connection from the improper care to the injury or complaint with which you’re coming to court. If your injury wasn’t brought about by your doctor’s breach of duty, you don’t have a case. But if you can demonstrate that with better care your injury could have been avoided, you could be looking at medical malpractice.
The final criterion for medical malpractice is that you must be able to demonstrate measurable harm. What does that mean? Put simply, you must be able to describe the ways in which you suffered due to your doctor’s breach of duty. Your attorney will help you determine whether you’ve got a case here, and he or she will also help you put together a list of damages. You might be looking to recover money from time lost at work or medical expenses paid, or perhaps you’re just looking for compensation for physical pain or mental anguish. Once you’ve demonstrated measurable harm, your malpractice claim is complete.
If you’ve determined that you have a malpractice case on your hands, there are several steps involved in getting the ball rolling.
- Contact the medical professional. Do this first. If they know something has gone wrong and are able to correct it, doctors will often do so at no cost to you. This is the best outcome for everyone involved.
- Consult another physician. By having a second opinion, you can determine whether your case has merit. You can also file a certificate of merit, which is required in an increasing number of states and will lend weight to your case anywhere.
- Find a personal injury firm. You want to look for a personal injury law firm with good reviews and years of experience. Take a look at their case record too and see how they’ve done with cases like yours in the past.
- Talk to an attorney. Make sure you know your options. Your attorney will help you make decisions such as whether to settle out of court or go to trial.
No matter what you choose to do, make sure you’re well informed every step of the way. Working with an experienced and competent legal team will make all the difference.
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