What Do Victims Need to Prove in a Medical Malpractice Case?August 25, 2020
Doctors have a legal duty of care to their patient’s health and safety. This duty of care indicates that doctors and other medical professionals must provide adequate care to their patients. However, this does not always occur. Some doctors act negligently, leading to a patient’s injury or death. This can burden a victim financially and emotionally, forcing victims to take legal action.
Doctors are human; therefore, mistakes can happen. However, this does not allow a deviation from their standard of care. Victims should reach out to a medical malpractice lawyer who can help them collect damages for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other financial and emotional losses resulting from the injury.
What is Considered Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor fails to provide adequate care to their patient, leading to an injury or death. One should note, however, that not all medical mistakes are considered malpractice. Instead, an injury must be attributed to a medical professional’s negligence in providing inadequate health care. For instance, if a patient is injured during surgery, the doctor is not necessarily considered liable for the injury. This is because all medical procedures come with risks. However, the doctor is liable if they deviate from their standard of care; this deviation could present itself in many ways. A doctor may be negligent under the following situations:
- They failed to prescribe a safe dosage of medication.
- They did not receive informed consent from the patient before performing a procedure.
- They failed to adequately diagnose a patient.
- They discharged their patient prematurely.
- They performed surgical errors.
- They misread or even ignored laboratory results.
Proving malpractice is often difficult. Therefore, the victim should contact a lawyer to collect sufficient evidence to prevail in the case.
What are the Challenges of a Medical Malpractice Case?
Medical malpractice is notoriously difficult to prove because it is difficult to distinguish between a medical mistake and actual malpractice. All medical procedures have risks; therefore, it is challenging to prove that negligence caused a victim’s injuries. Proving that a doctor was negligent can be expensive because the victim must likely hire a medical expert to determine whether the doctor deviated from the standard level of care and if it led to the injury.
Another thing to consider is that many medical experts have biases or find it difficult to speak out against a fellow health care provider. This may make it difficult to find an expert willing to testify. Victims should rely on their lawyer to find a medical expert brave enough to speak out. It is already hard to prove negligence. However, it is often more difficult to prove that the doctor’s negligence was the cause of the injury, beyond a reasonable degree of medical certainty. This is because bad outcomes can happen without a doctor’s negligence. There are many risks in medicine; therefore, bad outcomes are bound to occur. If an injury happens, the average person might believe that it is simply the result of a medical risk, instead of medical malpractice.
Another presented challenge may involve a medical report written by the defendant. This can make the evidence of the injury less reliable. Oftentimes, there is little physical evidence, so this medical report may provide a significant basis for the case. Therefore, it is crucial that it has accurate information.
Medical jargon may also negatively affect a case. Because medical terms are confusing for the average individual, the jury may have a difficult time understanding the case in its entirety. This can lead a jury to mistakenly side with the defendant, despite the overwhelming evidence against them.
What is Res Ipsa Loquitur?
Res ipsa loquitur is a legal doctrine that helps solve some of the challenges in a medical malpractice case. This doctrine aims to help prove medical negligence by implying that some injuries occur only as a result of negligence. To utilize this doctrine, the following must occur:
- Evidence should not be available.
- The injury should not be typical without negligence.
- The defendant had exclusive control of the instrumentality that led to the victim’s injury.
- The injury could not be caused by any other instrumentality.
- The victim was not responsible for their own injury.
Victims interested in using this legal doctrine should contact their lawyer. This doctrine is often beneficial for victims who have little evidence but atypical injuries. Ultimately, it can help a victim obtain entitled damages for their losses.
What Do Victims Need to Prove to Prevail in the Case?
To prevail in a medical malpractice lawsuit, the victim needs to prove several things:
- The doctor had a duty of care. First, the legal team must prove that the doctor had a duty of care toward the victim. This duty is typically established through physical evidence. The victim must simply prove that they were the defendant’s patient. They can do this through medical bills or records.
- The doctor breached their duty of care. Next, the victim and the lawyer must prove that the doctor was negligent.
- The patient faced losses from the injury. Finally, the victim must prove that they had both financial and emotional damages. Both place a burden on victim.
Common damages in a medical malpractice case are as follows:
- Medical bills
- Pharmacy bills
- Lost wages
- Lost future income
- Home modifications for disabled access
- Vehicular modifications for disabled access
- Emotional damages, such as pain and suffering
What is the Value of a Case?
A case’s value is dependent on the victim’s total losses. Losses are both financial and emotional in nature. Medical malpractice victims should contact an attorney to help determine a fair settlement offer for the victim’s total damages lost from the injury. To calculate economic damages, such as medical bills or lost wages, the victim’s lawyer will simply collect bill statements and invoices to obtain a number. Most economic damages are relatively easy to calculate. However, there are some damages that are more difficult to assess. In these situations, the victim may need to rely on a lawyer.
Calculating lost future income or emotional damages is often a challenge. A lawyer can determine a fair settlement for lost future income by analyzing the victim’s level of education, number of years worked, and salary. This number will determine the total lost future income. Calculating emotional damages is more difficult than financial damages because one cannot put a price on the emotional toll of a medical malpractice injury. Therefore, a lawyer must look at similar medical malpractice cases to understand a fair total settlement for the victim’s injuries.
Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Help Injured Patients Recover Damages
If you are the victim of medical malpractice, contact the Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We understand the challenges of proving fault in a medical malpractice case. Our lawyers are determined to help clients prove fault and obtain their entitled damages. If you are interested in exploring your legal options, contact us online or call us at 800-547-4LAW (4529) for a free consultation.
Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.