When we visit a doctor or spend time in an emergency room, clinic, or hospital, we trust that we’ll be properly taken care of and that the staff members know what they’re doing. Despite this expectation, doctors and medical professionals make mistakes every day. One may argue that all humans make mistakes occasionally—and this is certainly true—but when we place our lives in the hands of another human being, the risk of a mistake happening has to be lowered to an absolute minimum.
People are sometimes under the impression that anytime a mistake happens in a medical setting, the victim can immediately file a lawsuit and win. This isn’t exactly true due to the simple fact that medical professionals do make mistakes sometimes. There’s a very significant difference between a mistake caused by human error and one that was caused by negligence, however. With a mistake caused by negligence, that mistake could have been 100% avoided. These are the mistakes that medical malpractice lawsuits are made to handle—and put an end to.
A successful medical malpractice case must effectively prove all of the following:
- That a doctor or medical professional (such as a nurse or technician, etc.) made a mistake or acted negligently
- That you were harmed or injured by the mistake or act of negligence
- That the injuries set you back financially in the form of medical bills and/or lost wages
- That there was an established doctor-patient relationship in place
As long as a doctor agrees to provide a diagnosis or follow up with a treatment plan, it’s safe to say that an existing doctor-patient relationship has been established. When you first enter an emergency room, for example, you won’t have an established doctor-patient relationship until you actually speak to a doctor about a diagnosis or decide on a treatment plan. This is one reason why doctors tend to be the only medical professionals who will agree to speak with you regarding a planned course of treatment.
Establishing that a doctor-patient relationship was indeed in place proves that the doctor or medical professional had a duty to treat you with a certain standard of care. When these standards of care aren’t met, negligence can be proven. Negligence can be caused by many things—from failing to read a lab report correctly to not spending enough time with a patient, making a misdiagnosis, or failing to ask about a patient’s allergies before administrating a new medication.
After a doctor-patient relationship is established, you’ll need to provide proof that negligence occurred. This can be done by proving that a mistake was made or that sub-standard care was given. Expert witnesses can be called on to provide proof that the doctor or medical professional failed to provide a decent standard of care. By comparing what your doctor/medical professional did to what should have been done, the jury and judge can clearly see that negligence occurred.
You’ll also need to provide proof that you were injured or harmed by the act of negligence and that these injuries cost you in the form of medical bills and/or lost wages. Any preexisting conditions or illnesses do not count. Similarly, any injuries that didn’t have a significant impact on your finances may also not count.
As you can see, medical malpractice cases are complicated. They’re one of the most complicated types of lawsuits to prove in court due to the above requirements as well as the fact that most hospitals and medical clinics are backed by major corporations with powerful legal departments. Despite this, a good medical malpractice attorney knows how to go up against major hospitals and will do everything they can to help you receive the compensation and peace of mind you deserve.
Louisville, Kentucky medical malpractice lawyer Tad Thomas and his team of expert attorneys at Thomas Law Offices are dedicated to helping their clients fight back against hospitals and major corporations that don’t always treat their patients with a decent level of care. Our hospitals may be full to the brim, but that doesn’t mean we should suffer as a result. Contact our Louisville office for more information or a free, zero-obligation case evaluation.