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What are the Four Elements of Medical Malpractice?

What are the Four Elements of Medical Malpractice?

When the outcome of your medical care or procedure doesn’t have the outcome you’d hoped for, that doesn’t necessarily mean you are the victim of malpractice. A law firm that specializes in malpractice is the place to start. An experienced lawyer can help you through the murky waters of filing a malpractice suit. There are four elements that must be present, or you don’t have a legal case.

1. Existence of a Legal Duty

First you must prove that the doctor in question had a duty to care for you. In most cases, the evidence is a document you and your doctor signed allowing the doctor to treat you. You must have receipts or other evidence that proves you hired the doctor to perform medical services for you. The doctor/patient relationship is usually the easiest part to prove.

2. Breach of Duty

Second, you must prove something the doctor did wrong. Breach of duty could be negligence, failure to diagnose or administer treatment for something, or improper treatment. Your lawyer will make a comparison between your doctor’s care and the medical standard of care for a given procedure by other doctors in the same circumstances. Certain states require some sort of expert testimony included with your initial filing. Medical expert witness services can provide a doctor or other professional to give testimony regarding your treatment and resulting injury.

Another type of negligence could be harm caused by the improper prescribing of medications. If a doctor fails to follow the manufacturing recommendations, the patient could fall into anaphylactic shock, get liver or kidney damage, or perhaps have a heart attack. Your lawyer will need to get representatives from the pharmaceutical company to testify as medical expert witnesses regarding the information provided to doctors listing all side effects, drug contraindications, and other potentially dangerous side effects.

3. Causal Connection Between the Breach and Injury

If you can demonstrate that your injury could have been avoided with proper care, you might have a malpractice law suit. If your injury is from a preexisting condition, or another injury after the fact, you don’t have a case.

4. Measurable Harm

You must be able to describe the suffering you have endured due to the doctor’s breach of duty. Your lawyer will make a list of damages you can sue for including time and money lost from work, medical expenses, or physical pain and suffering. A medical expert witness can testify on your behalf regarding the type of injury you are suffering from.

Filing Your Claim

Timing is very important. File your claim as soon as possible after the negligent act occurred. There are different statutes of limitations for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in different states. You should also consult with another physician for a second opinion to determine if your case has merit. Filing a certificate of merit is required in some states and will show you have a strong case. An expert medical witness must be qualified in the same area of medical practice as the doctor being sued.