To succeed in a medical malpractice case, plaintiffs (victims) must demonstrate specific elements to substantiate their claim. Here are the four crucial things that must be proven to win.
Duty of Care
The first element involves establishing that a duty of care existed between the patient and the healthcare professional. This duty is implicit in the doctor-patient relationship, wherein the healthcare provider is obligated to adhere to a standard of care. This standard is generally defined by what a reasonably competent healthcare professional in the same field would do under similar circumstances.
Breach of Duty
Once the duty of care is established, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the healthcare professional breached this duty through their actions or omissions. It involves showing that the provider’s conduct deviated from the accepted standard of care. Expert testimony is often crucial in this phase, with qualified medical professionals offering their opinions on whether the defendant’s (at-fault party’s) actions constituted a breach.
Proving a breach of duty alone is insufficient; there must be a direct link between the healthcare professional’s actions and the harm you suffered. This element, known as causation, requires demonstrating that the breach of duty was a substantial factor in causing the injuries or adverse outcomes. Expert witnesses may again play a vital role in establishing this connection.
The final element involves showing that you suffered damages as a result of the healthcare professional’s negligence. Damages can encompass various losses, including medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, emotional distress, long-term disability, and more. Providing evidence of these tangible and intangible losses is crucial to determining the amount of compensation you are owed.
How To Prove These Four Elements?
Proving the four elements of a medical malpractice case often requires thorough documentation, testimony of qualified medical experts, and the help of a trusted Atlanta medical negligence attorney. Here is a breakdown of how each element can be substantiated:
Duty of Care
Establishing the existence of a doctor-patient relationship is usually straightforward through medical records, appointment history, and any official documentation.
Breach of Duty
This involves assessing what a reasonably competent professional in the same field would have done under similar circumstances. Medical records and witness statements can provide evidence of the breach. However, medical expert testimony is often critical to explain what the duty of care was in your situation and highlight how the healthcare professional deviated from it
Establishing a direct link may involve presenting a timeline of events to show how the provider’s negligence led to the harm and that you would not have been harmed otherwise. For example, suppose your physician prescribed a medication you are allergic to after failing to check your medical history. In that case, examples of evidence of causation could be medical records that state your allergies, a copy of the prescription, a receipt for the medication, and medical records detailing your reaction to the medication and follow-up care, etc. Keep in mind, if this happens to you, a medication error lawyer in Atlanta can help you.
Medical experts are also often relied upon to demonstrate the cause-and-effect relationship between the breach of duty and the resulting injuries
Presenting medical records, bills, and any related expenses provides a tangible representation of the economic damages suffered. Expert witnesses can testify to the nature and extent of the injuries, the impact on your life, and the long-term consequences. Personal testimonies, including your account and that of family members, can also contribute to demonstrating damages.