What are The Four Things that Need to be Proved in Order to Win a Medical Malpractice Case?
With the exorbitant costs of medical care that we pay here in the United States, we should be able to expect a certain level of care and competency. You should be able to seek medical attention from your provider and trust that they will not act negligently.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and when your medical providers act negligently, you may be left with serious injuries or complications with previous conditions. Victims of medical malpractice are entitled to file a claim that may allow them to recover the damages they have suffered as a result of their injuries and to pursue compensation for the physical pain and suffering, and emotional trauma they have been put through.
Understanding if the injuries you have suffered were indeed down to negligence is the first step. The best way to find this out is to contact a skilled medical malpractice law firm and arrange a free initial consultation with one of their medical malpractice attorneys. They will evaluate your case, answer any of your questions and begin the process on your behalf.
Here at Peter Angelos Law, we have been working with medical malpractice victims in the state of Maryland for over 50 years. During this time, we have won substantial settlements in record-breaking cases and have worked with numerous victims that have suffered at the hands of their medical providers. We aren’t afraid of the medical insurance giants that defend the providers in Maryland, and many of them know us by reputation. We don’t back down, and we don’t settle for less.
Call us today at 410-705-2405.
Proving Negligence in a Medical Malpractice Case
Medical negligence, while more complicated, still relies on the same principles of negligence that a personal injury case relies on.
Negligent behavior is any behavior that is seen as different from how a reasonable individual would have acted in the same or similar circumstances.
The Four Elements of Medical Malpractice
Your attorney will have the task of proving the four elements of negligence:
- Did the at-fault party owe you a duty of care at the time?
- Did they breach their duty of care with unreasonable behavior?
- Did this cause you to suffer injuries?
- Did these injuries lead to you suffering economic and/or non-economic damages?
Did the at-fault party owe you a duty of care at the time?
The first element of negligence is proving that the at-fault party owed the victim a duty of care at the time. A duty of care is a legal obligation placed upon an individual to act in a way that protects another individual’s well-being if their actions have the potential to cause injury to that person.
For medical providers, there is an automatic duty of care to provide a reasonable standard of care to their patients and to act in ways that protect their safety.
This means that the first element is usually simple to prove in medical malpractice lawsuits, as all medical providers automatically assume a duty of care to their patients under the doctor-patient relationship.
Under this duty, they must act reasonably, following the standard medical practices and giving their patients the due care and attention they are owed.
The following may also owe you a duty of care:
- An emergency department that treated you
- Medical assistants
Did they breach their duty of care with unreasonable behavior?
The second element in a medical negligence case that must be proven is usually the most difficult. The second element is the breach in the duty of care owed. Your attorney will need to be able to prove that your medical providers’ actions fell short of how a reasonable medical provider in the same situation should have acted.
This becomes even more difficult if your case ends up in the courtroom, as juries are often sympathetic to doctors and will see them as experts.
Proving that your Medical Provider Breached Duty Owed to You
Your attorney must show that the medical provider’s action was a direct breach of their duty of care. The attorney may use evidence such as medical records, expert testimony, and the opinions of medical experts to prove the medical provider’s negligence.
Medical records can show indications of an inadequate standard of care, while expert testimony can provide insight into the reasonable standard of care.
Did this cause you to suffer injuries?
Proving that the medical error caused the victims’ injuries can be difficult as it is a common tactic for insurance companies and medical providers to deny that they were the true cause of the injury. They may try to claim that your injuries were caused by a pre-existing condition and that this would have happened regardless of what the medical provider did.
This is why it is often the case that your attorney will bring in a medical expert witness as soon as possible to help back up your claims.
Common Reasons For Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
There are many different reasons why you might need to consider a medical malpractice claim. As a law firm that dedicates much of its professional time to fighting on behalf of medical malpractice victims, here are some of the most common forms of medical malpractice:
When you seek help from your medical provider, they should be able to diagnose you correctly when presented with your symptoms.
If they take too long to diagnose your condition or illness or they fail to diagnose it all together, you may suffer a worsening of your condition or aggravation of your injuries.
A delayed diagnosis may mean that you miss the window to receive the best possible treatment, and a failed diagnosis may mean that you do not receive any treatment for your condition whatsoever.
An error that can often be even worse than a failed or delayed diagnosis is a misdiagnosis. When a medical provider misdiagnoses a condition, you may be given the wrong treatment or sent for the wrong procedure. This may lead to a worsening of your condition or, in the worst possible cases, could lead to the death of a patient.
Emergency Room Errors
Emergency room employees need to be trained to handle the stress of the role. They need to be able to act calmly under pressure, prioritizing the patients that need to be seen first and ensuring that patients are seen in a timely manner that matches their injuries.
If you have been left for a long period of time in an emergency room without being treated or seen, and your injuries worsened as a result, you may have grounds for a claim.
Some of the most complicated medical negligence claims are those that arise following a birth injury. This is because the birth process comes with a lot of inherent risks, and injuries can happen through no fault of your providers.
Your medical providers should carry out adequate fetal monitoring during your pregnancy, and during the birth, they should take extra care and follow the right processes. Decisions such as converting the mother to c-section need to be made in a timely manner and forced delivery methods, like the use of a vacuum, need to be carried out by competent individuals.
If your newborn child has suffered a birth injury and you have reason to believe that it could have been preventable, medical malpractice likely occurred.
Prior to any medical procedure requiring anesthesia, an anesthesiologist must review the patient’s medical record, history, medications, allergies, and time requirements of the operation to determine the best combination of drugs to use.
Despite this, anesthesia malpractice can still occur, either during the pre-operation medical review or during the procedure itself. In cases of negligence, the anesthesiologist may administer drugs to which the patient is allergic or use an anesthetic contraindication which can lead to injury or death. In such cases, the doctor or anesthesiologist can be held responsible.
The following are the most common forms of anesthesia error:
- Anesthesia dosage error
- Delayed delivery of anesthesia
- Patient monitoring failures
- Dangerously prolonged sedation
- Failure to recognize and respond to anesthesia complications
- Failure to properly inform a patient of instructions for before, during, or after the procedure
- Faulty equipment
- Shutting off the alarm on the pulse oximeter
- Failure to intubate
- Failure to notice adverse drug interactions
Medical Record Errors
Your medical records should be kept up-to-date and accurate. This prevents incidents where a patient suffers injury because their records were wrong or incomplete. Double dosages of medication, a failure to record allergies, or a lack of medical history can all lead to serious injuries or, in the worst-case scenarios, the death of a patient.
What Damages Can You Recover Through a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
Your medical malpractice attorney will need to calculate the damages you have suffered in order to recover them. Calculating your damages will give them a figure that they can use to negotiate a settlement.
The first step in calculating your damages when it comes to medical malpractice cases is to determine what your total economic damages are worth. These damages have a clear figure attached to them and can be evidenced fairly easily.
Once they have calculated your economic damages, they will look to calculate your non-economic damages, which are usually the most substantial damages awarded. These damages are subjective, and it will be down to your attorney to decide what they are worth. A common method for doing this when it comes to medical malpractice suits is to apply a multiplier based on the severity of your suffering to the total of your economic damages between 1-5x.
Here are the most important damages that you should be aware of:
- Medical bills – The bills for your medical treatment may be recoverable in a successful claim. You can also claim all of your past medical expenses and future costs. If you are going to require long-term treatment, your attorney will need to work with experts who can help them accurately gauge what your long-term treatment costs will look like.
- Loss of wages and earning capacity – It is fairly likely that you will need to take a period of time away from your job to receive treatment and recover, both mentally and physically, from the incident. For most people, this means lost wages while they take time off work. Thankfully, you can recover all of your lost wages in a successful claim and if your injuries mean that you are never going to be able to return to work in the same capacity as you did before, your attorney may look to recover a lifetime of lost earning potential in your lawsuit.
- Pain and suffering – You may be eligible to claim damages to cover the pain, mental trauma, and distress that you have experienced as a result of the incident, as well as any losses to your lifestyle. This could include a loss of enjoyment of life if you can no longer participate in activities and sports that you used to enjoy or if you have developed phobias of the hospital and doctors.
Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Here at Peter Angelos Law, we are proud of our reputation for fierce advocacy on behalf of the victims of medical malpractice. We know that it can seem intimidating, facing off against the insurance giants that defend medical providers in the state of Maryland, but with our help, we can help you hold your provider responsible for their negligence.
By working with victims, not only do we help them pursue compensation and recovery of their damages, but we protect future patients from suffering from the same negligence.
We don’t back down, and we won’t settle for less.
Call us at 410-705-2405.