Medical Malpractice Case: Prove These 4 Elements

Injuries due to medical malpractice are more common than many Americans realize. With as many as 250,000 deaths linked to medical errors each year, you or your family could be affected. And one invaluable tool for recovering from whatever error or negligence led to your medical injury is to get the financial compensation you need.

How can you build a strong case to get that? Here are four things you’ll need to show. 

1. There Was a Duty of Care

Personal injury cases, including malpractice, are based upon the idea of a duty of care. And duty of care is the legal obligation of one person toward another, even in the absence of a contract. For example, it means that drivers must act in a reasonable way to prevent injury to pedestrians. It also means that medical professionals who were engaged to perform medical care must act with the skill and diligence expected of any reasonably competent person in that position. 

Fortunately, establishing that there was a duty of care due to the patient is usually easy. It is generally presumed to exist once a medical provider accepts or begins treating a patient. 

2. That Duty Was Breached

Once the responsibility of care has been established, you’ll need to prove how it was breached. A breach, in personal injury terms, is the failure to perform that duty of care. This generally happens in two steps.

First, you may demonstrate what is considered reasonable to expect from a provider with that person’s skills, certifications, licenses, and experience. Other providers in similar positions could help establish this. 

Then, your attorney would need to show how this duty of care was breached. For instance, a doctor may overprescribe a medication or prescribe one with known interactions with another medication you already take. The guidelines used by the medical community would have been violated and the doctor may have acted in ways that a reasonable cohort would be expected not to.  

3. The Breach Caused Harm

Next, draw a line directly from the breach of care to the harm that resulted. Misdiagnosis of a disease or injury, for instance, could result in the delay of medical treatment or the exacerbation of injuries. If you can demonstrate that reasonable competency was not shown in the misdiagnosis and that this delayed you from getting proper care for your condition, you show that harm was done. 

4. That Harm Caused Damage

The causation of harm doesn’t necessarily result in damage. A surgical team that accidentally leaves a medical instrument inside a patient after surgery may have indeed caused harm, but did it cause serious damage? If it wasn’t caught for a while or if the item caused internal injury, the answer would likely be yes. However, if a professional found and removed the item without any lasting injury, you may not have a strong case for damages. 

However, damage doesn’t have to be permanent either. You might fully recover from a medication that was given in error, but the damage comes in other forms. You may have needed expensive hospital care to recover. This recovery may have taken time and resulted in lost wages. Or you might need counseling and mental health care. A person who nearly died from an error may find their case compelling enough as it is. 

Where to Start

The key to building a progression through these four vital components is a qualified personal injury attorney who works with medical malpractice cases. The Wenck Firm has aided Louisiana and Texas patients in their medical malpractice cases for nearly two decades. Call to make an appointment and learn how we can help with yours. 

This Blog/Web Site is made available by The Wenck Firm, LLC, for educational purposes. It provides general information and a general understanding of the law, but does not provide specific legal advice. By using this site, commenting on posts, or sending inquiries through the site or contact email, you confirm that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.

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