What You Must Prove in a Medical Malpractice Suit

Medical malpractice is responsible for 250,000 deaths each year, making it the third leading cause of death in the United States. While medical malpractice occurs frequently, it is rarely litigated. Why? Many people don't know if they have a case or not. 

If you feel that you've been injured as a result of medical malpractice, you too may wonder if you have a case. The truth is, you have a better chance of winning if your case meets certain criteria. Following are a few specific things you must prove in court in order to win your case. 

Who Was at Fault

Before you can win a medical malpractice suit, you must sue the person or entity at fault. This may seem simple on the surface, but it can get tricky, especially in complicated cases.

If you sue a physician, for example, you must prove that you had a professional relationship with them and that their negligence, not anyone else's, caused your injury. This can be difficult to do if you were receiving simultaneous care from several medical professionals in a surgery suite, for instance. 

If your injury is the direct result of a medical device, you would sue the device manufacturer if the device was defective. However, if the physician used the device incorrectly, they would be at fault. You can imagine how proving fault can get complicated.

It Was Not an Accident

Medical professionals are not perfect, nor are they required to be. Accidents do happen, and you cannot sue for an accident. If something bad happens despite reasonable care from medical staff, it is likely to be labeled as an accident. The same is true of deaths that occur despite the best efforts of the medical team. Incidents happen, and you cannot sue unless you can prove negligence.

The Doctor Was Negligent

In order to prove negligence, you must prove that the physician or person you're suing was negligent in some way. Negligence is the failure to act reasonably or take reasonable care to prevent an injury. For example, if a medical professional fails to adhere to hospital protocols, you may prove that they were negligent. They knew the rules, but they didn't follow them. 

Common medical malpractice errors include ignoring test results, performing unnecessary surgery, operating on the wrong site, premature discharge, failure to order proper testing, and failure to diagnose. Medical device manufacturers may be negligent if they fail to perform inspections or safety tests, or if they know of a potential issue with a product and don't address it.

The Negligence Caused Your Injuries

Not only must you prove negligence, but you must prove that the negligence caused your injuries. You must outline the cause and effect for the court. If you develop an infection after surgery, for example, you must show how the surgeon's specific actions or inactions, such as leaving a foreign object in your surgical site, left you vulnerable to infection. 

Some injuries do not occur in the absence of medical error. In this case, an attorney can invoke the "res ipsa loquitur" doctrine, which means "the thing speaks for itself." When this doctrine is invoked, you do not need to prove that an action or inaction occurred because your injury itself is a result of medical error. 

You Have Specific Damages

Lastly, you must have specific, measurable damages that your attorney can quantify or put into numbers. Damages include medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.

If you've been injured by medical negligence, you need a powerful attorney on your side. Call Blomberg, Benson & Garrett today to learn more about medical malpractice lawsuits and to get started on your journey toward litigation and compensation.