Patients who suffer pain, injury, and other physical or emotional damages due to acts of negligence that physical therapists commit may be eligible under malpractice law to bring claims against the medical professional or facility in question. When the negligence of a physical therapist is suspected, in order for a case to have legal merit as a case of medical malpractice, the plaintiff must prove a number of elements that are related to the claims he or she is making.
Physical therapists are similar to optometrists, dentists, surgeons, nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals in that they have a legal duty to adhere to an accepted standard of care when providing medical professional service. Medical negligence is determined to have taken place if the physical therapist does not provide rehabilitation or treatment at the accepted standard of care another therapist in similar circumstances would have provided.
There are a number of crucial legal components that must be proven by a plaintiff in order for his or her medical malpractice case against a physical therapist to have legal merit.
Those elements include:
Establishing a duty of care between the physical therapist and the patient. This means that a plaintiff must show that a doctor/patient relationship was legally established. Because of this relationship, the patient would have been entitled by law to the aforementioned duty of care, and the physical therapist would also have been obligated by law to provide said care.
The second component is the proof that there was a breach in the aforementioned duty of care. Here the plaintiff needs to prove that as a patient, the physical therapy that he or she received did not measure up to the expected standard of care that would apply in the treatment of a patient by a physical therapist. The proof required here will vary from one circumstance to the next. This proof will be based on the kind of care that the patient could have expected if he or she had been under the care of a reasonably competent physical therapist. In order to prove this component, which demonstrates that medical negligence was present, a medical expert will often need to testify on behalf of the plaintiff.
The third component is the proof that the damage experienced by the patient was a direct result of the medical negligence or a breach of the duty of care.
It must be established that damages and injuries occurred to the plaintiff as a patient. Examples of injuries may include financial or non-financial injuries as well as punitive damages. However, it is also sometimes possible to hold other parties liable through laws related to vicarious liability for the actions a physical therapist committed.
Patients who feel they are the victim of malpractice or negligence on the part of a physical therapist are advised to seek the advice of an experienced medical malpractice attorney in order to evaluate their claim. Attorneys specializing in this type of law can help patients obtain the documentation necessary to prove their claim, and represent them during any and all settlement or court proceedings.