The success or failure of medical malpractice lawsuits often hinges on an attorney's ability to prove that the presiding physician, nurse, or healthcare practitioner was guilty of medical negligence. In the majority of medical malpractice cases, an attorney must clearly demonstrate four distinct events regarding the medical practitioner and the patient. The following is a brief overview of these four steps and how they dictate a case's success or failure.
The Doctor-Patient Dynamic
It must be proven that you, the plaintiff, were in fact the patient of the doctor against whom you are currently filing medical malpractice charges. The doctor-patient relationship must be legitimate and contractual. For situations involving surgery or other major operations, this generally isn't difficult to prove, as there is a wealth of paperwork and insurance-related documents concerning the treatment.
However, if your injury was the result of a course of treatment you overheard a doctor discussing at a private luncheon, any injuries you sustained would be your own responsibility, as no doctor-patient relationship actually existed.
Next, you must prove the physician acted negligently. Negligence is most often established when you can prove that other physicians wouldn't have treated you in a similar manner. This is known as the standard of care.
For instance, if five other doctors surveyed would have prescribed you drug "X" for your illness, but your physician prescribed you drug "Y", than clearly your doctor would be guilty of having violated the medical standard of care. However, if your doctor's course of treatment was within the standard of care, it may be difficult to prove he or she acted negligently.
Your Suffering Resulted From Negligence
Once you have proven the doctor-patient relationship and negligent behavior, you must prove that the medical practitioner's negligence was what caused your subsequent illness or injury. Even if it is clear that your caretaker violated the medical standard of care, that violation must have directly resulted in your suffering.
There must be a clear connection between the illness or injury you sustained and the physician's treatment. If there is any doubt as to the causal ink between the two, the success of the case could very well be in jeopardy.
The Injury Or Illness Must Be Specific
As the patient, you must also be able to prove that your injury or illness is legitimate and debilitating. Simply lamenting that you are "in a world of pain" is not sufficient to collect compensation from the physician. Typically, your suffering must fall into one of the following four categories: physical pain, mental duress, medical bills, or lost wages as a result of the inability to work.
Ultimately, if you are confident that you can satisfy these four requirements, the probabilities of success are much higher.
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