We regularly trust doctors and other healthcare professionals with our lives. In most cases, this trust is rewarded with the high-quality medical care we deserve and expect. But all too often, negligent care or a medical error results in a serious injury that could have been easily prevented if the healthcare professional had performed their job correctly.
If you have been the victim of medical malpractice, you most likely have many questions about what went wrong with your treatment. Unfortunately, negligent doctors are rarely forthright about the mistakes they have made out of fear of facing a lawsuit. It’s important to work with an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can carefully investigate your case to help you get the answers you need after this tragic incident.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, nurse, hospital or other medical professional makes an error during treatment or provides a level of care that falls below the standards established by the medical community, causing injury to the patient. Often, these medical errors result in serious injuries that require additional treatment to correct. In serious cases of medical malpractice, your injuries may even be life altering.
Keep in mind that not all unsuccessful outcomes are the result of medical malpractice. There are certain inherent risks associated with many medical procedures, and it is possible to receive excellent care from your doctor and still have complications after your treatment. In order to have a valid medical malpractice claim, you must be able to demonstrate that your injury was due to negligent care or a medical error.
There are many different parties who can potentially commit medical malpractice including:
- Hospital staff
In many cases, more than one of these parties may be liable for your injuries.
Similarly, there are many different ways in which medical malpractice can occur. Some common types of medical malpractice include:
- Emergency room errors
- Anesthesia errors
- Hospital errors
- Surgical errors
- Birth injuries
- Medication errors
- Failure to diagnose/misdiagnosis
- Nursing errors
Criteria for a Successful Medical Malpractice Claim
In order to achieve a successful outcome in a medical malpractice claim, you must prove the following elements:
- A doctor-patient relationship existed – You must be able to demonstrate that you entered into an agreement with the healthcare professional to provide medical services to you.
- The healthcare professional acted negligently – A subpar outcome doesn’t necessarily imply malpractice occurred. All medical treatment is associated with certain inherent risks. In order for malpractice to exist, you must be able to prove that the healthcare professional acted negligently or provided a level of care that falls below the standard established by the medical community. In most instances, you will need to have a medical expert who can discuss the ways in which your treatment failed to meet typical standards of care.
- This negligence caused your injury – Often, medical malpractice cases involve patients that were sick or injured prior to treatment. Therefore, you must be able to demonstrate that it is “more likely than not” that the negligent actions directly caused or exacerbated your injury. This element will also require the testimony of a medical expert.
- The injury resulted in specific damages – Even if negligence occurred, you won’t be able to recover compensation unless you suffer damages. In most instances, you must be able to demonstrate that you suffered some kind of economic damages, although non-economic damages such as pain and suffering can also be factored into your settlement.
What Damages Can I Recover in a Medical Malpractice Case?
Depending on the specifics of your claim, you may be entitled for damages associated with:
- Current and future medical bills associated with the injury
- Rehabilitation costs and ongoing care
- Lost wages
- Diminished earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
You Have Rights
If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of a medical professional, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your damages. Medical malpractice cases are very complex, and it’s important to work with an experienced attorney who can make sure your rights are protected every step of the way. A lawyer will help you build your case and ensure all necessary witnesses are called to testify on your behalf. This is the best way to give yourself the greatest chance of a successful outcome.