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Medical Malpractice

Definition - What does Medical Malpractice mean?

Medical malpractice occurs if a medical professional such as a doctor, nurse, nurse practitioner, or medical facility commits a negligent action or through omission causes an injury to a patient. Medical malpractice can occur through an error in diagnosis or if the doctor provides inadequate health care management or treatment.

Proving medical malpractice

]Proving medical malpractice can be very difficult. In fact, there are very specific standards which a patient must prove in court to win damages. First, the patient must prove the doctor or medical care professional violated the standard of care. This means the doctor failed to follow the procedures and processes which the law and other medical professionals considered acceptable medical treatment for the patient compared to other patients in the same position and circumstance.

Next, the patient must prove the action or inaction was negligent. Specifically, the doctor had a duty towards the patient, the doctor violated their duty, the breach of duty was the proximate cause of the injury or harm to the patient, and the patient suffered actual injury. The patient may be able to prove breach of duty, but if they cannot prove they suffered actual harm- mental, emotional, or physical- then they do not have a medical malpractice claim.

Finally, the patient must prove they have significant injuries. In some cases a patient may have a valid claim, but if they cannot prove they have suffered significant injury, it will be difficult to win a medical malpractice case. Most successful medical malpractice cases are won because the patient can prove they have suffered severe disability, substantial loss of income, undue hardship and pain, or they have very expensive medical bills related to the injury.

Should I file a medical malpractice case without a lawyer?

Legally you are allowed to file a medical malpractice claim without legal representation, but whether or not it is a good idea depends on two factors: how much you have been harmed and the complexity of the legal issues involved.

Medical malpractice claims are generally very complicated. Not only will you need to understand medical practice law, you will also need to hire a qualified medical expert witness who is understands the issues and is willing to testify on your behalf. Next, even if you are considering settling your claim, you will need to understand the full cost of your injury, including the cost for healthcare, lost wages, and the potential for a life-long disability. If you do not understand how to calculate the full cost of your injury, you will need legal help from a medical malpractice lawyer.

Next, ask yourself how much you understand about standard of care and how you will navigate the complex issues surrounding your medical malpractice claim. Do you understand how to interpret medical evidence? Are you ready to refute testimony provided by the defendant? Do you understand the legal procedures involved with the medical malpractice case? If not, it may be time to get legal help.

How much will I receive for my medical malpractice claim?

To determine the value of your medical malpractice case you can calculate the past and future economic damages (medical costs, property damage and lost wages) and add this to the noneconomic damages (pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement and inconvenience).

Courts will also consider whether there are limits or damage cap laws which have been instituted in your state. For instance, in the state of Maryland limits the amount which can be awarded for non-economic damages for medical malpractice cases. If you have been injured by a governmental entity there may also be a cap for damages.

Next the value of your medical malpractice case can be impacted by the quality of your medical malpractice attorney. Some lawyers will be very good at negotiating larger settlements or winning cases in court.

Finally, the court may also consider whether your actions contributed to your own injuries. In some states if the court determines you contributed to your own injuries you will be barred from recovering any compensation.

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