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Four Elements of a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

A medical malpractice lawsuit is a civil action that seeks compensation for damages from a healthcare provider who committed negligence during a patient’s treatment. These claims require extensive medical evidence and expert testimony to prove the case. There are four main legal elements that must be present for a medical malpractice claim to succeed:  the physician had a duty to act with reasonable care and skill in treating the plaintiff;  the doctor breached this duty by deviating from the accepted standard of care;  the breach directly caused injury or harm; and the injury resulted in damage that is measurable in terms of money.

The first element in a medical malpractice case is the doctor’s duty to act with reasonable care and skill. The law defines this as the care that a reasonably competent healthcare provider would provide under similar circumstances. This is a different standard than the “reasonable person” standard used in personal injury cases. In a malpractice case, the defendant is considered negligent if their care falls short of this standard.

Proving that the doctor breached their duty is often challenging, but it can be done with evidence gathered during a medical malpractice investigation. This stage typically involves a thorough review of the victim’s medical records and an examination by a qualified medical professional.

For example, in a recent medical malpractice case, a TV host was injured when doctors misdiagnosed his neck fracture and discharged him without taking an X-ray or investigating further. This was a clear breach of the doctor’s duty, and the victim suffered substantial damage as a result.

To prove the second element of a medical malpractice case, the victim must show that the breach of duty directly caused an injury or illness. This requires establishing that the doctor’s deviance from the accepted standard of care caused the injury or harm. For example, in a case where a cardiologist told a patient to stop taking their heart medications and instead use over-the-counter drugs, the victim eventually suffered a devastating heart attack. This was a clear case of medical malpractice, and the victim’s injuries were measurable in terms of the amount of money needed for treatment and rehabilitation.

The final element of a medical malpractice case is demonstrating that the injury was a direct result of the doctor’s error. This is often easier to prove than the previous two elements, but the victim must demonstrate that there is a legally sufficient link between the doctor’s actions and the outcome. For example, in a malpractice case where a mother received too much medication during her labor, the child was born with cerebral palsy. This was a clear case of medical negligence, and the woman received a settlement for her injuries and long-term care costs.

If a medical professional’s negligence causes death, close relatives such as spouses and children can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased. The estate of the deceased can also file a malpractice claim for financial damages. However, New York has a pure comparative negligence rule that reduces the amount of damages awarded by the court if the plaintiff is found to have some degree of responsibility for the accident.