If you have been injured from the negligent actions of a medical professional, you may have the legal right to seek compensation for your injuries by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. To win your medical malpractice claim, however, you will have to prove that the doctor owed you a duty of care, the doctor breached their duty, their breach was the proximate cause of your injury and that you did, in fact, suffer loss or injury.
If you win your medical malpractice lawsuit, you may be entitled to payment for pain and suffering, current and future lost wages, and current and future medical care. If you are able to prove the doctor’s actions were especially egregious, you may also be awarded punitive damages.
Winning My Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Winning your medical malpractice case will require you to prove certain elements of your case. All of which are discussed in more detail below.
1. Duty exists between the plaintiff and the defendant.
The first element that you must prove in your medical malpractice case is that the doctor owed you a duty of care. If you have established a doctor-patient relationship with your doctor, they are legally bound to provide a certain level or standard of care.
2. The medical care professional breached their duty of care.
After you have established duty of care, the second element in your medical malpractice claim is to prove breach of duty. This can be proven if you can provide evidence that the doctor did not provide a reasonable standard of care.
Although standard of care does not have a specific medical definition, the general premise is that the doctor provided you with care that was comparable to what another reasonably competent and skilled health care professional with similar expertise in the same location would have provided.
To prove breach of duty, you will have to prove that the doctor was negligent in their standard of care. Doing this will generally require you to hire a medical expert who can provide testimony in court about the doctor’s breach.
3. The breach of duty was the proximate cause of your injuries.
The third element in your medical malpractice case is proving the negligence or breach of duty was the proximate cause of your injuries. Although this may seem simple, proving proximate cause in medical malpractice can be quite complicated because patients seeking medical care may already have serious injuries caused by conditions or diseases that have nothing to do with negligent medical care.
4. I have suffered injury or loss.
Medical malpractice compensation is awarded to claimants who have suffered injury or loss with the expectation that the payments will help restore them to their previous position. If you have not suffered injury or loss, regardless of the doctor’s negligence, there is no restoration needed. If you have suffered injury or loss, however, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses.
How Much Will I Win for Medical Malpractice Case?
Compensation for medical malpractice claims will vary based on the state, severity of your injuries, whether you contributed to your own injuries, disfigurement, and pain and suffering.
In many states, controversial legislation has also been passed that caps the amount of medical malpractice damages awarded. For instance, in the state of Colorado, laws have been passed that cap non-economic damages at $300,000 and total damages at $1 million dollars.
Depending on your state’s laws, your compensation may also be capped, regardless of the factors listed above. Talk to an injury lawyer if you have questions about your compensation payments.
How Long do I Have to File My Medical Malpractice Case?
Statute of limitations have been implemented in all states, allowing a specific amount of time to file an injury claim, including medical malpractice. Most states allow one to four years to file a medical malpractice case, although the statute of limitations may not start until you discover the injury (this is referred to as the discovery rule).
Most Common Medical Malpractice Cases
Medical malpractice negligence can include a wide variety of negligent actions including a misdiagnosis, prescription errors, surgical errors and pregnancy errors. Regardless of the negligent action, however, to win your case you will have to prove that the doctor who made the error was "not acting reasonably or with the skill and care that a reasonably qualified doctor would have demonstrated in the same situation".
Do I Need a Medical Malpractice Lawyer?
Due to the complexity of medical malpractice claims, most claimants who choose to file a medical malpractice case will need the expertise of a medical malpractice lawyer who is familiar with injury laws in their state. Most medical malpractice lawyers will provide a free or inexpensive consultation to review your case, answer your questions and determine if you have a strong case.