Photo by Piron Guillaume
In the last ten years, deaths resulting from medical malpractice have skyrocketed, with as many as 251,000 people in the U.S. losing their lives each year due to medical errors. That makes medical malpractice the third-highest cause of death in the country.
The cost of medical malpractice is devastating, especially to the victims. If you or your loved one believe you’ve suffered medical malpractice at the hands of your physician, you have the right to seek compensation.
There are four elements of medical malpractice that must exist for you to prove medical malpractice and claim compensation. In this comprehensive guide, we tell all you need to know about these four elements.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice refers to the incorrect, unskilled, or negligent treatment of a patient by a medical professional. That professional may be a physician, pharmacist, nurse, dentist, or other healthcare professional.
Over the years, the concept of medical malpractice has caused a lot of controversy. Healthcare professionals claim that medical malpractice lawsuits establish a substantial financial burden that increases the cost of medical care.
Medical malpractice attorneys disagree. They maintain that medical malpractice litigation helps victims get their entitled compensation. Since 2009, about $38.5 billion has been paid out to Americans who filed medical malpractice suits.
What’s Medical Negligence?
Before we delve into the subject of the elements of medical malpractice, it’s important to make the distinction between medical malpractice and medical negligence. Negligence means that the medical professional failed to do something, and as a result, the patient was harmed.
An example of negligence is when a surgeon accidentally left a surgical tool inside the patient’s body after the surgery. No medical professional would knowingly do that. However, this action must be acknowledged as an oversight and a mistake.
The Four Elements Of Medical Malpractice
If you’re mulling about filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, you’ll need to show the four essential elements of a tort. Below, we examine these elements in detail.
1. Existence of Doctor-Patient Relationship
A medical malpractice case is not viable unless the defendant has a duty to act on the victim’s behalf. The duty to act must be in accordance with the generally accepted standard of care for such a healthcare professional with their level of skill and training. Where this doctor-patient relationship is non-existent, one cannot make a case.
2. Breach of Duty
Successful medical malpractice litigation requires proof that the defendant breached the standard of care. You can establish this proof with the help of a Nashville medical malpractice attorney and expert witnesses.
Your work as the plaintiff is to prove that the healthcare professional failed to offer the expected level of care for a professional with their level of capability and training.
The third element of medical malpractice involves establishing proof that the negligent care directly caused you harm. In other words, it is not enough to prove that there was negligent action; you need to demonstrate that this negligent care was the direct cause of your injury or illness. If your injuries weren’t the result of the breach of duty, your care doesn’t qualify as medical malpractice.
4. Demonstrable Harm Occurred
Finally, you must demonstrate that the harm you suffered as a result of the doctor’s action is quantifiable. For instance, you must quantify any increase in medical care expenses or lost wages due to your injury or illness.
To prove that financial compensation is justified for your harm, inform the court what monetary value is associated with the preventable illness or injury you suffered. You’ll also need to explain the effects you suffered, both in terms of physical pain and emotional distress.
A Real Example Of Medical Malpractice
Recently, Cummings Law filed a lawsuit against Vanderbilt Medical Center on behalf of the family of Chester Shoemaker. The lawsuit claimed that their mother died a wrongful death as the result of medical malpractice at the hospital.
The patient entered the hospital with a kidney infection in 2017. Her condition was improving noticeably until one of the medical practitioners wrongfully punctured her carotid artery during a medical procedure. This mistake cut off Ms. Shoemaker’s blood circulation to the brain, which ultimately caused her death.
It’s a clear case of medical malpractice by Vanderbilt Medical Center. Brian Cummings, the medical malpractice attorney representing the family, seeks damages of up to $30 million.
Choosing A Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Medical malpractice is among the most complicated areas of law. Proving causation is particularly challenging, so you need an attorney by your side. But how do you identify the right attorney for you?
We’ve put together four guidelines to help you hire a medical malpractice attorney you can trust.
When you’re dealing with a case as sensitive as medical malpractice, you want to be sure you have an attorney who knows what they’re doing. That’s where experience comes in.
Generally, you want to know how long your potential attorney has practiced medical malpractice law. If this is going to be the attorney’s first case, it’s best to look for someone else. An attorney who’s prosecuted cases similar to yours for at least five years is a better bet.
Don’t forget to ask about the attorney’s success record. How many cases similar to yours have they successfully prosecuted? How much have they recovered for their clients in the past?
If an attorney has a tainted reputation, that’s a deal-breaker. That’s why it’s important to do a background check to find out what other people have to say about them before working with them.
If you can get recommendations from friends, family, or colleagues about attorneys they’ve worked with in the past, consider hiring such an attorney. If you can’t, head online and see what previous customers have to say about the attorney. Ask for references from the attorney and follow up to find out whether their previous customers have good things to say about them.
Inquire About Cost
The best medical malpractice attorneys offer a free consultation. If an attorney turns you away because you can’t pay a consultation fee.
During your consultation, discuss the prospective costs of your case. Typically, clients don’t pay anything upfront in medical malpractice cases. You only pay once you’ve won the case.
Inquire from your attorney whether they’ll be responsible for the expenses involved in litigation. This is important as these costs can easily run into thousands of dollars or much more.
Take The Right Action After Medical Malpractice
If you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice, don’t hesitate to take the right steps to get the compensation you deserve. Doing so requires ample preparation, part of which is knowing the elements of medical malpractice. Remember to work with the right medical malpractice lawyer to help you win your case.
Are you interested in top-notch legal representation for your medical malpractice lawsuit? Please contact us today.
Posted in: Medical Malpractice