Proving If You Have A Medical Malpractice Case


  • Author Aaron Crane
  • Published May 27, 2016
  • Word count 864

When a health care provider is negligent and causes an injury to a patient, the patient may have a medical malpractice claim. Medical negligence happens when a doctor or other provider deviates from the accepted standards of care. Not all injuries that happen when a person is under a doctor's care will mean that a claim exists, however.

In a medical malpractice case, the injured victim that files the lawsuit is called the plaintiff. He or she will have the burden to prove that his or her injury was caused by medical malpractice, entitling him or her to compensation. In order to prove a case, a plaintiff must prove each claim element by a preponderance of the evidence. Under this standard, the jury should decide that the plaintiff's argument is a more likely explanation than not. In a medical malpractice claim, a plaintiff must prove the following elements:

  • A health care provider and patient relationship existed

  • The health care provider was negligent

  • The negligent acts caused the injury the patient suffered; and

  • The patient suffered damages as a result

  1. Establishing a relationship between the health care provider and the patient

The first thing you will have to prove is that there was a relationship established between your health care provider and you as his or her patient. While this sounds like it would be simple, it can sometimes be hard. For example, if you went in to get a procedure done just because you overheard a doctor tell other people about it at a party, it is unlikely you will be able to establish the required relationship. Even if the doctor consulted on your case but was not directly involved in treating you, you may be unable to prove this initial element.

  1. Establishing negligence

You will also have to prove that the health care provider acted negligently. In some cases, an injury may happen simply because it was a risk of the procedure itself. This also might happen when there are other unknown factors that were present at the time. There could also have been things that happened that were beyond the health care provider's control. If this is true in your case, you will have trouble proving negligence. In other cases, it is obvious. For example, if a doctor leaves behind an object in your body after surgery, that is obvious negligence.

You might be able to prove that the health care provider was negligent by showing that he or she deviated from the accepted standard of care. These standards are based on what other similar doctors would do in the same type of situation. It will be based on the reasonable actions of doctors in the same specialty and the same geographical location. In order to prove that the doctor's actions did not meet the standard of care, you may need the help of a medical expert. An expert can tell the jury what the standard of care is and how competent and reasonable doctors would have handled the situation.

  1. Proving that the negligence caused the injury

Proving that a negligent act caused an injury can be very difficult. In most cases, patients go to see doctors when they are ill or injured already. A very common defense to medical malpractice claims is to argue that the injury was one that was already pre-existing instead of the health care provider causing it. Since other outside factors can cause problems, it can be hard to show that negligence caused it. For example, if a patient dies during an operation, it might be hard to determine whether they would have died in the absence of doctor negligence. Medical experts are often needed to prove this element.

  1. The injury caused the person to suffer losses

Even if you are able to show that your doctor was negligent and that you were injured, you will not be able to recover if you can not show that you suffered losses. This is also called damages. Injured people may suffer damages that include the following:

  • Medical costs to fix the injury caused by the mistake

  • Lost income or lost ability to earn money

  • Ongoing treatment needs

  • Emotional pain

  • Pain and suffering

If you can prove all of the elements, you may want to talk to a medical malpractice attorney at Cantor Crane about filing a claim for medical malpractice.

Getting help from a medical malpractice lawyer

When you want to find out if you have a winnable claim, you may want to talk to a medical malpractice attorney. Our attorneys are able to help you to understand how complex these cases are. We can assess your case and give you an opinion about whether or not you will likely be able to prove the elements. We can honestly advise you about whether you have a valid claim and the options you have. If we agree to take your case, we can talk to the insurance company and the defendant's lawyer for you. We may also hire a medical expert if we believe it is necessary to make your case stronger. To learn more about how we might be able to help you, call us to schedule your consultation.

Aaron Crane is an experienced medical malpractice attorney in Phoenix, AZ with over 12 years as a practicing personal injury lawyer familiar with medical related negligence.

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