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4 Elements Necessary for Proof in a Medical Malpractice Case

By Alpert Schreyer on April 5, 2016

DCMD - Medical Malpractice DoctorUpon assuming the responsibility of treating people, medical professionals take an oath to uphold a standard of care. If they violate this legal duty, it constitutes malpractice. In order to bring a successful medical malpractice lawsuit, a patient (or a patient’s relatives in some cases) must present adequate proof that the medical professional responsible for caring for them acted irresponsibly in a way that directly harmed the patient.

It’s up to the plaintiff, the one claiming injury, to supply expert testimony and other proof. Here are some elements needed for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Legal duty

Was the patient under the care of the person he or she is accusing of malpractice? If so, that person had a legal duty to the patient.

Violation or breach

This means that, through negligence or intentionally, the medical professional violated his or her legal duty to uphold a standard of care.

Accidents happen. The key to proving negligence is the idea that harm to the patient — physical, emotional, or financial — could have been prevented if the medical professional had been following the proper procedures and giving an appropriate amount of care. This part often requires testimony from an expert medical witness.

Proximate cause

It must be proven that the patient’s injury was a direct consequence of the medical professional’s actions.

Actual damages

“Damages” covers a broad area and includes many kinds of injury, tangible and intangible. Any adverse effect on the patient, from physical injury to lost past and future wages to excessive stress and other things that are likely to affect well-being, fall into the category of damages. All of these damages can be presented as proof of malpractice under personal injury law.

After hiring a personal injury attorney to help gather evidence and build a case, the plaintiff, the defendant, and both of their attorneys will go through a discovery process, during which the plaintiff and defendant are interrogated and evidence may be examined and witnesses called. During this time, if the defendant has malpractice insurance (all licensed medical professionals are required to have this), a settlement may be discussed and agreed upon.

If the defendant doesn’t agree to a settlement or the plaintiff wants more money, the case will proceed to trial.

If you believe that you or a loved one may have grounds for a personal injury case that involves medical malpractice, call the experienced personal injury attorneys at Alpert Schreyer, LLC at 301-932-9997 or toll free at 844-632-7274 for your free case evaluation. We will listen to you, review your case, and get you the compensation you deserve.


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