How to prove medical malpractice: the four elements

By VSCP LAW

When a doctor – or any medical provider – fails to treat their patient with competent care, that failure is called medical negligence or medical malpractice. And if that incompetent treatment causes the patient to suffer an injury, the patient likely has a viable medical malpractice claim, for which the patient and possibly their family may be compensated.

In order to prove a medical malpractice claim, the medical malpractice lawyer will have to prove the following four essential elements:

  1. DUTY

A professional duty is the first element in a medical malpractice claim. The medical malpractice attorney has to establish that there was a doctor/patient (or healthcare staff/patient) relationship. They might ask: was this medical provider charged with taking care of the patient and/or accepted the responsibility of caring for this patient? If the answer is yes, then duty has been established.

  1. BREACH OF DUTY

The next element in the medical malpractice claim is breach of duty. Once the attorney has proven that the medical professional had a duty to care for the patient, the attorney must next prove that the medical professional breached that duty. In other words, they have to prove that the medical professional failed to provide the standard of care expected of them. An example of breach of duty is when a surgeon leaves a surgical tool inside the patient’s body during surgery. Surgeons are expected to remove all surgical tools used during surgery from the body cavity. If they fail to do so, they have breached the duty they owed to their patient.

  1. CAUSATION

The next element the medical malpractice attorney must prove is causation. If they can establish that the patient’s injury would not have occurred if it weren’t for the defendants’ actions or inactions, then they have proved causation. In other words, in order for the medical malpractice claim to be successful, the attorney must prove that the medical provider’s mistake – their negligence – led to the patient’s injuries and/or increased the patient’s risk of harm of sustaining their injuries. It’s not necessary to prove that the medical provider’s negligent actions were the only cause of the patient’s injuries. It’s only necessary to prove that the medical provider’s negligence increased the risk of harm to the patient.

  1. DAMAGES

The last element the medical malpractice attorney must prove is damages. The attorney will need to establish that, as the result of the medical professional’s medical negligence, the patient suffered injuries. These injuries may be new injuries or they may be an old injury that has been aggravated or worsened due to the medical professional’s mistake.

If the medical malpractice attorney can prove the above four elements, the client’s medical malpractice claim will have all the essential elements to move forward in a court of law.

If you believe you or a loved one has suffered an injury as the result of a medical provider’s mistake, contact the experienced medical malpractice lawyers at VSCP LAW.

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