Proving your doctor violated a “standard of care” is a major hurdle to clear toward winning your medical malpractice case, but it is not all that is required to be awarded damages. You first must prove that your doctor owed you a standard of care to begin with, and you must demonstrate that by violating that standard of care the doctor caused you to suffer harm. Lastly, you must prove that you incurred economic or non-economic damages as a result.
If you suffered an injury or illness that you believe resulted from poor or negligent medical care, there is a good chance you have grounds for a malpractice case and that you could recover damages. A medical malpractice lawyer can help you build a claim that proves every criterion you need to pursue a successful outcome.
Defining the “Standard of Care”
“Standard of care” refers to a doctor or healthcare provider’s professional duty to their patients. It is not a list of specific actions they must perform, as a doctor’s duties can vary wildly from patient to patient. What the standard of care essentially says is that when treating a patient, a healthcare provider must offer the level of care one would expect from a reasonable person. A reasonable person is defined as another professional with similar education, skills, and training.
Clearly, a substantial gray area exists in determining whether a doctor’s care did or did not uphold the reasonable person standard. That is why medical malpractice cases are notoriously complex and often take months, even years, to litigate. An attorney can define exactly how a reasonable person should have acted in your situation and then show how your doctor’s behavior fell short of that standard.
Requirements to Win a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
In order to win a medical malpractice lawsuit, you must establish that four things happened. They are as follows:
- The doctor or healthcare provider you are alleging is responsible owed you a certain standard of care.
- The allegedly responsible party violated her standard of care.
- You suffered harm because of the responsible party’s failure to uphold her standard of care.
- You incurred economic or non-economic damages because of the harm you suffered.
The Responsible Party Owed You a Standard of Care
First, you have to show that the responsible party owed you a standard of care. This standard exists between all doctors and their patients and extends to a doctor’s medical staff, including nurses, lab technicians, and physicians’ assistants. If you had an active doctor-patient relationship at the time of the incident, then your doctor as well as their staff owed you a standard of care.
The Party Violated His or Her Standard of Care
Second, you have to show that the party did not uphold their standard of care. In other words, their actions fell short of what one would expect from a reasonable person. Since this can be a nebulous distinction, one way to make a strong case is to bring an expert witness to serve as the reasonable person.
The expert witness can review the evidence and put themselves into your doctor’s shoes. The witness can testify about how they would have responded to the situation, creating a contrast between the actions of a reasonable person and those of your doctor.
You Suffered Harm Because of the Party’s Behavior
Third, you have to show not only that your doctor violated the standard of care but also that you suffered specific harm because of your doctor’s failure. This link is critical, often determining whether your case wins or loses. The standard of proof is a preponderance of the evidence, meaning you must demonstrate it is more likely than not that your injury resulted from your doctor’s negligence.
You Incurred Economic or Non-Economic Damages from Your Injury
Finally, you must list the damages you incurred as a direct result of your injury. There are two main types of medical malpractice damages. Economic damages are those involving actual financial loss — medical bills, lost wages, reduced earning capacity, and so forth. Non-economic damages are losses not involving financial depletion but causing harm in other ways. For instance, pain and suffering and inconvenience.
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The medical malpractice lawyers at Newsome | Melton want to help you win your case against your doctor. We can prove she is liable for your injuries and help you recover damages.
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