Tens of thousands of medical malpractice claims are filed with insurance companies in the United States each year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In addition, thousands of medical malpractice lawsuits are filed in courts from coast to coast annually.
Medical malpractice cases represent some of the most complicated types of legal action in the U.S. justice system. At the outset, four essential elements must be demonstrated in order for a person to prove an allegation of medical malpractice.
Legal Elements of Proving Fault in a Medical Malpractice Case
There are four primary legal elements associated with a medical malpractice case, according to the American Bar Association. The first element to establish medical malpractice is a demonstration that a duty of care was owed to a patient. The duty of care element typically is relatively transparent. If a healthcare provider enters into a professional relationship with a patient, the duty of care exists. For example, a physician must provide medical care in a reasonable manner consistent with what a typical doctor would do in similar circumstances.
The next element that must be demonstrated in a medical malpractice case is a breach of the duty of care. Evidence must demonstrate that a physician breached the standard duty of care owed to a patient by deviating from what a doctor reasonably should have done under the same set of circumstances.
The third element is that the breach of the duty of care must be what is legally known as the proximate cause of the injury sustained by the patient. This means that the injury sustained must be one that reasonably could be anticipated to come from the breach of the duty of care.
Finally, the patient contending that he or she is the victim of medical malpractice must sustain actual, and not merely hypothetical, injury. The injury sustained must be quantifiable in some manner.
In the absence of any one of these elements, a patient may not legally make a claim of medical malpractice. If an individual attempts to pursue a claim without all four elements being present, he or she could be sanctioned for pursuing a frivolous lawsuit.
Ensuring that the four elements of medical malpractice properly are satisfied
underscores the needs for an individual seeking redress to retain the services of a capable, experienced medical malpractice attorney. A skilled Charlottesville VA medical malpractice lawyer understands the requirements necessary to make a case for medical malpractice.
Common Types of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice can come in a number of different forms. One of the most common types of medical malpractice is classified as misdiagnosis. In basic terms, a doctor fails to provide a patient with a proper diagnosis. An associated type of complaint involves a doctor who makes the correct diagnosis, but not in a timely manner.
Errors during treatment processes represent another category of malpractice. These include surgical errors and mistakes made in the emergency room. Treatment process mistakes encompass everything from operating on the wrong part of a patient’s body, to leaving something behind in his or her body following a surgical procedure.
Another common type of malpractice is the failure to properly advise a patient of the risks associated with a medical procedure or treatment. When a patient is not provided an adequate warning of risks, he or she is not able to make an educated, informed decision about undergoing a procedure or course of treatment. In order to provide proper consent, that decision must be suitably informed.
In the aftermath of an incidence of medical malpractice, an injured patient may protect his or her rights and interests by retaining the services of a skilled, experienced attorney. As a general rule, a medical malpractice lawyer does not charge a fee for an initial consultation with a prospective client.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Martin Wren, P.C.for their added insight into liability in personal injury practice.