What to Expect in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

If you or a loved one has been injured due to medical malpractice, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The law defines malpractice as a physician’s failure to provide treatment that meets the standard of care within his or her specialty. This standard of care reflects the knowledge and training that physicians should possess in their field. While the vast majority of physicians do not commit malpractice, when they do, their patients can be harmed. Most physicians carry malpractice insurance, which is required as a condition of hospital privileges or employment with a medical group. If you are successful in proving the elements of your claim, you can be awarded damages for both economic and non-economic losses. Economic damages include medical bills and lost wages, while non-economic damages may include pain and suffering.

Before a medical malpractice lawsuit can begin, your attorney must perform an investigation into the case to determine if you have viable legal grounds. This is called the pre-trial discovery phase. During this time, you will be asked to submit any evidence or documentation that supports your claims against the accused healthcare worker. Additionally, your lawyer will need to consult with experts in the relevant field to verify that your doctor’s actions were indeed negligent.

After a thorough review of the evidence, your attorney will file a complaint against the defendant in court. This document clearly states your allegations against the medical professional, and it is also served alongside a summons to appear in court. During the pretrial discovery process, both sides will be permitted to request any documents or information that the other party intends to use in the trial. This could include affidavits, depositions, or even medical exams.

In addition to presenting medical evidence, your attorney will need to prove that the defendant’s actions or inaction directly caused your injuries. This is referred to as causation and the burden of proof for medical malpractice cases is a low standard that is less stringent than the beyond a reasonable doubt standard that is required in criminal trials.

To prove your case, you must show that there was a breach of the standard of care, and that this breach directly caused the injury or death. This is often difficult to do, as it requires demonstrating a direct relationship between the breach of the standard of care and your injury or illness. In other words, your injury must be a foreseeable and direct consequence of the physician’s action or inaction.

Many medical malpractice cases are won by establishing that the plaintiff would not have undergone a certain procedure had they been fully aware of the risks. For example, if a doctor fails to inform you that a particular procedure has a 30-percent risk of losing a limb, and this result happens, the surgeon can be held liable for malpractice. However, New York’s pure comparative fault rule allows the jury to assess the percentage of blame attributed to each party, and this may reduce your damages award.

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