What are the 4 Elements of Malpractice?

Like any other case, medical malpractice requires the plaintiff to prove a claim that a healthcare professional had incurred damage to the patient and disregarded their duty as a service worker.

Once you’ve approached someone reliable among the hundreds of medical malpractice attorneys, your lawyer would then discuss with you the critical four elements of malpractice that need to be proven in court to win the case, mainly duty, breach of duty, damage, and cause.

Element #1: Duty

In the legal field, duty refers to the established professional doctor-patient relationship that indicates that the defendant owes the plaintiff the commitment to be in charge of the latter’s care.

This means that if the healthcare practitioner was treating you, then it simply means that they’re obligated to provide you adequate care that you could expect from another doctor of similar background, geographic location, and education. Moreover, they are responsible for upholding an oath to conduct the necessary medical practices without omission or deviation.

Element #2: Breach of duty

Once a duty of care has been formed between the two parties, victims could sue the practitioner for failing to perform the standard care that other experts in the same specialty would have done in an identical situation. Not only that, but it also pertains to the lack of medical skill to do the appropriate action under their duty as the patient’s primary care.

Other examples could also be:

  • Misdiagnosing a patient’s condition or failure to diagnose
  • Prescribing impropriate dosage or type of medication for the person
  • Inability to recognize the symptoms and signs of clinical conditions
  • Incidents where the professional left any surgical tool within the patient’s body

Although many medical malpractices stem from the willing minds to breach the oath, some practitioners could also commit the same mistakes without the malicious intent to do so, yet still reaped similar results either for you or your loved one.

Element #3: Damage

As its name suggests, the third element refers to the incurred harm or loss resulting from the injury that an individual sustained, may it be an emotional or physical wound, so long as the practitioner’s misjudgment brought it.

Additionally, this could be recognized if the wrongful act by the healthcare worker has induced a new injury onto the patient or aggravated their existing illness or injuries.

Typically, these losses could be categorized into two types, mainly general or special.

General losses, in simple words, are damages that are composed of less tangible sufferings, such as reduced quality of life, revoked consortium, or prolonged pain.

On the other hand, special losses are easier to identify as these kinds of losses are quantifiable, which are not limited to pay loss, corrective surgery expenses, and the cost of prescription medications.

Element #4: Cause

In making a valid ground for medical malpractice lawsuits, the plaintiff’s party must be able to showcase solid evidence that displays how relevant a possible doctor’s negligence is to your current injuries.

In a few cases, this element is quick to be defined, like when a professional removed the patient’s spleen instead of their gallbladder since there would be noticeable changes in the person’s physical health.

Given that the defendant’s attorney could argue that the plaintiff has pre-existing conditions that may have resulted in the injury or illness that are being blamed on their client, gathering information like the following could help your lawyer create a solid and compelling case:

  • If you have received care from more than one healthcare practitioner;
  • The patient’s gender, age, as well as the detailed risk factors attached to their medical history;
  • And whether the plaintiff had received several treatments for multiple medical conditions

How do we prove it?

Due to the case’s complexity, the plaintiff’s party usually hires a team of lawyers and investigators to uncover hard evidence that the negligent medical professional was responsible for the sustained damages.

Some of the things that victims could receive from the investigation are:

  • Secured testimonies from expert medical professionals
  • Reviewed past malpractice complaints or claims against the defendant
  • A clear timeline of events involving both parties
  • Accumulated test results, medical records, and other proofs that medical treatments have been performed on the patient by the defendant

In general, the law firm itself would be the one to create a demand letter regarding your damages before presenting it to the defendant’s insurer to reimburse you. Moreover, a negotiation would take place between the law firm and the insurance company.

In an instance that the two could be compromised with a fair settlement, your attorneys would escalate the situation by entrusting the case to the jury’s decision.

Overall, medical malpractices are serious crimes that must be fought for in court. There may not be an easy way to obtain justice for what happened to you, but a credible law firm or lawyer could assist you in taking the proper legal steps and get you closer to your goal!

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