According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data – and the stories you may have already heard from friends, family members, and coworkers – medical malpractice is a leading cause of serious injury and wrongful death in America. Doctors, nurses, physicians, pharmacists, and all types of medical professionals can and do frequently make mistakes that impact their patients’ health and wellbeing. When this occurs, the patient might be able to file a claim for compensation that pays for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other types of relative damages. The patient is not guaranteed the ability to file a claim because not every medical mistake constitutes a medical malpractice claim due to liability laws and legislation.
In order for a medical error to be considered medical malpractice and worthy of a claim, four prerequisites must be met:
- Doctor-patient relationship: The first key component of any valid medical malpractice claim is showing clearly that a doctor-patient relationship existed between the plaintiff and the defendant. This is generally not an issue to establish, as medical records will show that you agreed to see your doctor and your doctor agreed to see you. However, complications can arise in emergency situations in which a patient cannot approve or refuse medical treatments, perhaps due to unconsciousness or grievousness of their injuries. Working with a medical malpractice attorney is important in such situations to accurately determine liability.
- Negligent act: After showing that you had a doctor-patient relationship with the medical professional you believe caused you harm, you have to show that the doctor acted negligently. In a medical malpractice claim, you are specifically looking for actions, decisions, or behaviors of the doctor that violate acceptable medical standards of care. All medical professionals should be thoroughly trained in what the medical community as a whole has decided is safe, effective practice and treatment. Anything that goes outside the usual methods is indicative of a negligent act, even if the doctor hoped it would be beneficial.
- Related injury: Knowing a doctor violated accepted standards of medical care is one thing, and knowing that violation actually caused harm is something else altogether. If you have suffered an injury or a worsened illness after visiting a doctor, it is crucial to be able to establish the link between their mistakes and that harm. Otherwise, the defense might be able to prop up the situation as coincidence, damaging your chances of winning a verdict or settlement.
- Real harm: Lastly, you must be able to prove the injury caused by your negligent doctor did cause actual and specific damages. In a medical malpractice claim, the usual damages cited by the plaintiff are pain, suffering, medical bills, and money lost due to missed work or debilitations that reduce the plaintiff’s chances to secure gainful employment. If none of these specific damages apply to a case, then a court will not likely hear it.
Call Our San Jose Medical Malpractice Lawyers
Whether you are fairly confident you have a valid medical malpractice claim or if you have no clue where to begin, Habbas & Associates and our San Jose injury attorneys can be of assistance. We have nearly two centuries’ worth of collective legal experience, giving us insight and legal abilities that are simply unmatched. Contact our firm at your first opportunity to get your most pressing questions about your medical malpractice claim addressed during a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.