Most people trust that their doctors will treat them with the highest standard of care. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. If your doctor, hospital, or another medical professional fails to meet the medical standard of care and negligently causes injuries or even death, you may have legal rights to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. The talented team at the Law Offices of Craig L. Cook can help you understand how to prove medical malpractice.
How to Prove Medical Malpractice
Doctors cannot guarantee that everyone they treat will fully recover from their injuries or illnesses. Despite the best efforts of medical professionals, some people will not recover or might not enjoy the wished-for outcomes. Being unhappy with the outcome of your treatment is not enough to support a claim for medical malpractice. Instead, you will need to be able to prove the elements of malpractice to prevail on this type of claim. These include the following:
- The existence of a doctor-patient relationship
- Negligence on the part of the doctor or other medical professional
- Causation between the negligence and your injury
Each of these elements must be proved by a preponderance of the evidence. If you are unable to prove one of the elements, your claim will not be successful.
The Existence of a Doctor-Patient Relationship
You must demonstrate that a doctor-patient relationship existed between you and the doctor. In the case of a medical malpractice wrongful death claim, you will need to show evidence of a doctor-patient relationship between the doctor and your loved one. A doctor-patient relationship means that the doctor was hired by you or by your loved one, and the doctor agreed to perform the services for which he or she was hired. So, for example, a doctor at a party who you overheard talking to someone else cannot be sued based on what you heard.
In most cases, it is fairly easy to prove that a doctor-patient relationship existed. This element might be in dispute when you are suing a consulting physician who was not directly involved in your treatment.
Being unhappy with the results of your treatment does not mean that the doctor acted negligently. Medical negligence occurs when a doctor’s actions failed to conform to the standards expected of competent doctors in the same practice area under similar circumstances. A doctor does not have to provide the best possible care, but he or she must provide care that is reasonably careful and skillful. Proving this element frequently requires an expert opinion and testimony from a medical expert who can talk about the proper medical standard of care and help you to demonstrate how the doctor deviated from the standard.
Causation Between the Negligence and the Injury or Death
In many medical malpractice cases, the victims were already injured or sick when they sought care. Because of this, there may be a question about whether the doctor’s actions caused the injuries or death. To prevail in a malpractice claim, you must be able to show that the doctor’s negligence caused the worsening of your injuries or condition (or your loved one’s death). To meet the burden of proof for this element, you will need to show that it is more likely than not that your doctor’s negligence caused the injuries or death. Your attorney may need to call on a medical expert to help you prove this element.
Even if the doctor was negligent and his or her negligence caused your injury, worsened your condition, or caused your loved one’s death, you will not win your case unless you can prove that you suffered specific damages as a result. Types of damages that might be recoverable in a medical malpractice claim include the following:
- Medical expenses related to treating your worsened condition or additional injuries
- Lost wages and the reduction of your capacity to earn an income
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental or emotional anguish
- Loss of companionship
What Are Some Common Types of Medical Malpractice?
While many scenarios can result in medical malpractice claims, the following types are the most common:
- Failure to diagnose/delayed diagnosis
- Inappropriate treatment
- Failure to warn
- Prescription or dosage errors
- Surgical errors
- Wrongful death
Get Help with Your Medical Malpractice Claim
If you believe that your injuries or your loved one’s death was caused by medical mistakes, you should talk to a medical malpractice lawyer to learn about the merits of your claim and how to prove medical malpractice in your specific situation. Contact the Law Offices of Craig L. Cook today to schedule a free consultation by calling us at 479-783-8000 or sending us a message online.