Medical malpractice lawsuits mean that you are alleging a medical provider violated the medical standard of care that led to serious injuries or a loved one’s death. By doing so, you are seeking compensation from that provider for all of your financial losses as well as any emotional or physical trauma you sustained.
Medical malpractice lawsuits might be filed against a physician, nurse, specialist, or even a hospital. When a medical professional fails to provide the proper standard of care to their patient while administering treatment or care, it can result in serious injuries and sometimes death. When this happens, the victim or their surviving family members have the right to hold them financially liable.
To succeed in a malpractice case, you must prove a few critical elements. When there is not enough evidence to prove each of these, it is hard to win your case.
Not all bad medical outcomes or deaths are malpractice. Therefore, if you think you have a medical malpractice claim, it is in your best interest to speak with an attorney first to see if you truly have a case. An attorney will review you or your loved one’s medical records, have a medical professional examine you to determine the scope of your injuries, and then help determine if you have a viable malpractice claim and which parties you can file your lawsuit against.
What Are the Elements Required to Succeed in a Malpractice Case?
To win your case, you must prove key elements including:
Certificate of Merit
More states are requiring certificates of merit to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, and Kentucky is one of them. Under the new law, a victim seeking compensation through a medical malpractice case must file a Certificate of Merit, which is done with the help of a medical provider, before they can officially file their lawsuit. The Certificate means that a medical expert has reviewed the complaints against the healthcare worker, and agrees negligence was involved.
You Had a Doctor-Patient Relationship
There must be an established doctor-patient relationship. You can prove this with medical records or insurance billing statements showing that the physician you accused of malpractice was treating you at the time. A physician that is not treating you, such as one who consults with your physician, and is not paid by your insurance or physically cares for you, would not have a doctor-patient relationship with you.
Typically, proving the doctor-patient relationship is the easiest part of a malpractice lawsuit, because you will have documentation proving the care provider was overseeing your care in some way.
The Doctor or Medical Professional Breached the Standard of Medical Care
All physicians are held to a higher standard of care than the average person. Not only are they specially trained to care for someone, but they take an oath when they receive their medical license to do no harm. When a care provider falls below the acceptable standard of care, serious injuries can occur.
The acceptable standard for a medical provider will depend on his or her specialty. Typically, this means your attorney will find another provider with a similar background, education, and work history to testify as to how they would have cared for you and how the medical provider’s actions led to your injury.
For example, if you are alleging a cardiologist led to your heart condition due to poor care, then another cardiologist working in a similar field and with a similar educational background would need to testify as to what was the acceptable standard of care. A pediatrician could not testify as to how he would treat you when comparing your injuries from a cardiologist.
Proving That the Doctor Did Breach that Standard of Care and the Breach Was the Direct Cause of Your Injuries
The most important part of your malpractice case is tying the breach of care to your injuries and losses. If a physician violates the standard of care, but you are not injured or suffer any damage, then you do not have a basis for the lawsuit. Instead, you must show that your financial damages, physical pain, and emotional suffering all tie directly to the physician’s breach of care.
To do this, you can supply medical records and bills, and your attorney will use that evidence to prove the standard of care was breached and that the breach led to your injuries.
You Have Damages
You might be able to prove there was a breach in the standard of care, but you must also prove that you suffered damages. Damages are financial losses that you experience because of the physician’s malpractice.
Some damages that you might claim include:
- Medical Costs – Any additional medical costs that are the direct result of the physician’s malpractice can be claimed in your lawsuit. You can also claim future medical expenses as long as they relate directly to the injury you sustained. Unrelated medical expenses do not qualify for compensation.
- Lost Wages or Loss of Earning Capacity – Any wages lost while you recovered from your injuries, or any permanent disability that leaves you unable to resume work or earn the same amount of wages prior to the injury, are compensable too.
- Pain and Suffering – Physical pain, mental anguish, and emotional suffering are all areas where you can receive compensation. The more serious the injury, the more compensation you may receive for pain and suffering. Individuals with long-term injuries, disabilities, or chronic pain will receive more in pain and suffering damages than someone who recovers fully. Also, the courts will consider the amount of mental anguish a person suffers and try to compensate them as best they can.
Hiring an Attorney for Your Case Is Critical
When you file a medical malpractice lawsuit, you are going up against a team of lawyers working for the insurance company. They handle claims like this weekly, and you need an advocate who can help level the playing field.
If you suspect you are the victim of malpractice, contact lawyer Seth Gladstein, at the Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC. We have helped patients just like you with their medical malpractice claims. We know how devastating it can be to suffer an injury from a medical provider. After all, you turn to them, trusting that they will take care of you – not make you worse.
Whether you want to start the process, or you just want to see if you have a case, contact attorney Seth Gladstein, first for a free, no-obligation case evaluation. Call us now or request more information online.