What Is Medical Malpractice?

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Medical Malpractice Basics

The American Medical Association journal ranks medical malpractice as the third leading cause of death. In 2012 alone, over $3 billion was spent on payouts. This is alarming, to say the least. There are also many medical malpractice cases that go unreported.

  • Medical malpractice happens when a doctor fails to exercise the standard of care reasonably expected, and their actions lead to injury or harm.
  • The principles and guidelines applied in medical malpractice cases differ from one state to another.
  • A malpractice attorney can determine if your case has merit and how much you may win in a lawsuit if it’s successful.

Doctor-Patient Relationship

The first thing you need to prove is that a relationship existed between the doctor and the patient. This means that a doctor was hired to perform the services and the patient placed himself under the care of the doctor. For instance, you cannot claim there was a doctor and patient relationship when you overheard a doctor giving advice at a party. The doctor must have treated you for there to have been a relationship. In addition, you cannot sue for a medical consultation that did not involve direct treatment from the physician.

Negligence by the Doctor

It is very important to establish that just because you were not pleased with the outcome of the treatment does not mean that the doctor acted in a negligent manner.

  • For your claim to be valid, you must prove that you suffered harm as a result of the treatment you received.
  • Doctors and healthcare professionals are expected to act skillfully and exercise care when treating a patient.
  • For the doctor’s actions to come into question, he or she must have acted unreasonably when treating you. Their actions are measured against what would be considered reasonable and expected care in a similar situation under similar circumstances.

Proximate Cause

To be awarded damages, the patient must prove that the actions of the doctor were a direct cause of the harm or injury they suffered. This is often a tricky element to establish because patients go to doctors when they were already unwell.

  • It can be challenging to establish that the condition of the patient deteriorated because of negligence by the doctor or if it was due to their ailment.
  • To ascertain the proximate cause, the patient must show that the incompetence of the doctor most likely led to their harm. In most cases, expert medical witnesses are required to testify on the victim’s behalf.

Statute of Limitations

States have specific timeframes as to when medical malpractice lawsuits claims can be filed. The statute of limitations in most states is sometime between six months and two years. If the injured party fails to make a claim within the statute of limitations, then their claim will likely be dismissed.

  • There are special exemptions due to unique circumstances such as when dealing with minors.
  • In addition to this, some injuries and symptoms may take time before they manifest. In such cases, the courts can grant an exception.

If you suspect that a doctor acted negligently when administering treatment which resulted in a serious injury, it is best to consult with our medical malpractice lawyers. For starters, we will seek to establish the merits of your case. A medical malpractice lawyer Charlottesville VA trusts can help you navigate the legal system and secure you the compensation for your injury that you deserve.

MartinWren, P.C.Thanks to our friends and contributor from MartinWren, P.C. for their insight into malpractice cases.