To successfully sue for medical malpractice, you must prove four elements to the satisfaction of the doctor’s insurance company or, if your case goes to court, of the jury. As outlined in a paper published in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, the four elements of medical malpractice are:
- That your doctor had a duty to care for you
- That your doctor failed to provide minimally competent care
- That your doctor’s failure resulted in your injuries
- That your injuries have caused you damages
Compensation Can Help You Support Your Family
If you or a loved one was the victim of medical malpractice, you may be entitled to monetary damages. This money will not only compensate you for the pain and inconvenience of your injuries, but it can also be used to pay your bills, put your children through school, and much more.
Damages generally fall into one of two categories. The first, non-economic damages, covers your injuries and their symptoms and effects. For example, you might qualify for non-economic damages based on:
- Disability, if your injury resulted in a temporary or permanent physical or intellectual disability
- Pain and suffering, if the malpractice or injuries resulting from it was physically and/or emotionally traumatic
- Reduced quality of life, if your injuries prevent you from resuming your previous independent lifestyle
- Loss of companionship, if the malpractice cost your loved one their life and their survivors (including you) the benefits of their presence
Economic damages cover any bills or loss of income you incurred because of the malpractice. More specific examples include:
- Loss of wages, if the malpractice cost you income by forcing you to take time off from your job
- Loss of earning capacity, if your injuries make it impossible for you to work as many hours and/or earn as much money as before
- Medical bills, if you received any form of medical treatment to deal with your malpractice injuries
- Funeral expenses, if you paid for your deceased loved one’s funeral or burial out of your pocket
Proving Medical Malpractice
It is not always easy to prove you have a case of medical malpractice versus, for instance, a negative medical outcome. A doctor who cannot fix your problem is not automatically guilty of malpractice. It is your job (or your lawyer’s, if you have one) to demonstrate that the doctor’s actions or inactions qualify as malpractice.
To meet the four critical elements outlined above, you can seek corroborating evidence from several sources. Your medical records, for instance, can show the procedures you had done, both by the doctor you are suing and any other doctors you saw afterward to treat your malpractice-related injuries. Also, testimony from another doctor can help establish that your doctor did not fulfill their professional obligation to you.
What a Lawyer Can Do for You
The legal process is often long and complex. It can be tough for a layperson to figure out where to start, how to collect evidence, and how to negotiate with a big insurance company that has a lot of experience with being sued. You might find it helpful to hire an attorney who can:
- Advise you of your legal options
- Provide you with regular updates about your lawsuit’s progress
- Communicate with the liable party and their representatives on your behalf
- Look for and gather evidence to strengthen your case
- Identify all potentially liable parties (e.g., whether you can sue your doctor only or if the medical facility is also liable)
- Complete all necessary paperwork promptly
- Negotiate and draw up a fair pretrial settlement
- Represent you at trial if the liable party will not negotiate
- Answer your legal questions to your satisfaction
How much legal representation will cost depends on the law firm and the nature of your case. However, many law firms work on a contingency basis. Such an arrangement allows you to retain a lawyer’s services without paying anything upfront. Instead, you will pay your lawyer a percentage of the compensation they help you to recover.
Call Morelli Law Firm Today
If you want help understanding or proving the four elements of medical malpractice, call Morelli Law Firm. We can offer you a free case review and negotiate on your behalf for the compensation you deserve. Call our legal team today at (212) 751-9800.