What Are The Grounds For Filing A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

What Are The Grounds For Filing A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

The US justice system annually records tens of thousands of medical malpractice lawsuits. Medical malpractice typically occurs when a healthcare professional or hospital fails to provide appropriate care, resulting in harm or injury to the patient.

If you or someone dear to you has been injured due to medical malpractice, you may have the necessary grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, these lawsuits are not a walk in the park, as less than 10% of them go to trial yearly. This article will guide you through the grounds you need to be aware of before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Grounds For Filing A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

According to the National Institute of Health, there are four grounds upon which you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit. You must prove duty of care, show that the medical practitioner breached this duty, that you were harmed because of this breach, and prove that the violation was the direct cause of your injury or harm.

1. Duty Of Care

The duty of care is the first ground for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. This is a legal responsibility placed upon a medical professional to maintain reasonable care and avoid acts that may harm others and result in a malpractice claim.

According to US law, the claimant (in this case, you) must show a duty of care imposed by law that the defendant (the medical professional you are suing) has breached. When considering the duty of care, courts may often ask the following questions:

  • Would a healthcare professional who exhibits sound judgment in the defendant’s position have anticipated the significant risk of harm or injury that could have arisen from their action?
  • What would a medical professional who exhibits sound judgment in the sued professional’s position have done to manage the risk?
  • Did the failure to take action cause or contribute to the injury?

2. Breach Of Duty

The second ground for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is that the defendant breached the profession’s duty bestowed upon them. A breach of duty is the failure of a medical professional to follow the set standards of care. For example, if a doctor failed to order an MRI scan for a patient who later suffered brain damage, that doctor may be found guilty of negligence.

Some of the questions that a court may ask to determine a breach of duty include the following:

  • What is the recognized standard of care for the specific situation?
  • Did the healthcare provider deviate from the standard of care?
  • Would another professional in the same case have acted differently?
  • Was there a less risky or alternative method of treatment that should have been offered or considered?


3. Injury Or Damage

For a court to find that you were injured or suffered damages because of the healthcare provider’s negligence, you must show the injury you sustained. In this case, you need physical proof of the actual damage, not hypothetical or potential harm. You can share medical records and documentation detailing the treatment and your body’s response.

Also, the expert testimony of a witness in the same field must show that the injury or harm is more likely than not a result of the healthcare provider’s actions or lack thereof.

4. Causation

Causation is the legal term for the relationship between a particular action and its consequences. In this case, you must prove that the healthcare provider’s actions were a substantial factor in causing your injury or damage.

Like in the third ground, you’ll need expert testimony and medical records to prove the causation between the defendant’s actions and the injury or harm. Also, your case may need to pass the “But For” or “Substantial Factor” Test. Here, you must prove that, but for the action, the injury wouldn’t have occurred. In other words, would the harm have happened if the defendant hadn’t acted in the way they did?

Parting Shot

Medical malpractice is a weighty issue that can lead to devastating consequences. If you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice, it’s vital to seek legal advice to know your options and pursue justice. If you successfully prove your case before a jury, you will benefit from economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are calculated based on expenses like medical expenses now and in the future, lost wages, and other quantifiable expenses. Non-economic damages like emotional distress and pain and suffering are not easily quantifiable and vary from case to case.

However, if you’re unsuccessful in your medical malpractice case, the medical professional or hospital may file a lawsuit against you for legal fees. Working with an experienced attorney who can help you get the compensation you deserve is essential.