Medical malpractice occurs when a patient suffers harm because their medical providers fail to competently render care. As a result, medical malpractice is often thought of as a special type of personal injury claim. However, proving a medical malpractice claim is often more complex than many other kinds of personal injury cases. To win compensation in your medical malpractice case, you will need to prove the existence of the “Four D’s” of medical malpractice: duty, deviation, direct causation, and damages.
Duty of Care
First, you must prove that the healthcare professional that you are pursuing a medical malpractice claim against owed a duty of care to you. This usually means proving that you had a doctor/provider-patient relationship with the professional. If a provider-patient relationship exists, the healthcare provider is expected to render treatment in accordance with the standard of care. Although the details of the standard of care vary in each patient’s case, the standard can generally be defined as the treatment decisions and actions that other healthcare providers of similar training and experience would undertake in identical circumstances. In other words, the duty of care is equivalent to what other doctors or healthcare providers would do if they were treating you.
Next, you must prove that your treating provider’s actions somehow deviated from the standard of care. The law will not hold a provider liable if they made the same actions and decisions that other providers with similar training and experience would have done in your case, even if you ended up suffering harm as a result of the care.
In most cases, you will need to present expert testimony, usually from another medical professional of the same specialty as the healthcare provider you are filing your medical malpractice claim against. Your medical expert will be required to provide an opinion as to what the specific standard of care was in your case and how your provider’s actions failed to meet that standard of care.
In addition to showing that your treating providers deviated from the applicable standard of care, you must also show that this deviation was the direct cause of the harm you suffered. While this may be a straightforward issue in some medical malpractice cases, in other cases the parties may vigorously contest whether a healthcare provider’s failure to comply with the standard of care was the direct cause of the patient’s claimed harm. For example, causation may become an issue in medical malpractice cases arising from misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, since the harm suffered by the patient – namely, the medical condition they were suffering from – technically occurred before they sought treatment. However, the patient may try to argue that a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis allowed their condition to become worse and that was the harm they have suffered.
Finally, to recover compensation in a medical malpractice claim, you will need to establish that you have suffered some sort of loss that you can be financially compensated for. This may take the form of medical treatment and rehabilitation you may need to fix an injury or harm inflicted by a provider’s negligent care, or additional treatment you may need for a medical condition that was worsened by a provider’s negligence. Damages may also include lost income and future earning ability, physical pain, emotional trauma and distress, permanent disabilities and scarring/disfigurement, and reduced life expectancy.
Contact A Medical Malpractice Attorney for a Consultation About Your Case in New Jersey
Were you or a loved one injured due to medical malpractice in New Jersey? Then you need to talk to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible for guidance on how to proceed. The Haddonfield medical malpractice attorneys at The Law Offices of Andres & Berger P.C. are prepared to assist you with your legal claim. We represent victims of negligent surgeons, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists throughout New Jersey, including Pennsauken, Voorhees, Lindenwold, and Collingswood. Call us today at (856) 795-1444 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation. Our main office is located at 264 Kings Hwy. E., Haddonfield, NJ 08033.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.