According to some estimates, the rate of successful medical malpractice cases has dropped by over 50 percent in the last 20 years.
This suggests that claims are becoming tougher for plaintiffs to win, despite the potentially devastating consequences that result from the negligence of medical personnel.
Medical malpractice has always been challenging to prove but what exactly do you have to demonstrate in order to win a case?
As a law firm specializing in these types of cases in New York over the years, we know how to win you the compensation you deserve.
Below we share with you details of what you will need to prove to win your medical malpractice claim.
There are four basic steps to achieve a successful result.
Table of Contents
- 1. Establish that there was a doctor-patient relationship
- 2. Prove that the doctor was negligent
- 3. Prove that the doctor’s negligence caused injury
- 4. Proving that there were damages associated with the doctor’s negligence
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1. Establish that there was a doctor-patient relationship
This is the easiest step. As the plaintiff, your attorney must demonstrate that you or your family member were in the care of a doctor, who was in some way related to the medical care you received.
So, you must have requested a physician’s assistance and the physician must have knowingly accepted you as a patient.
Copies of your medical records should be able to show this clearly.
2. Prove that the doctor was negligent
Next, you must show that the doctor was negligent in his or her actions. This lies at the heart of your case and will go a long way to determining how successful you are with a settlement or a court judgement.
It can be challenging to establish this, as the actions of the doctor will be compared with what a reasonably competent medical professional would have done in a similar situation.
They will be judged according to how they compare against an established “standard of care”. This may normally involve ordering certain tests and diagnostics, administering certain treatments, analyzing results, etc.
Of course, there is some “gray area” here. Much is open to interpretation.
Bear in mind that it is not enough to be unhappy with the level of care you received (and the results of that care) if other competent doctors would have acted in a similar way.
A skilled medical malpractice lawyer will have done extensive research on this if your case proceeds. They will ensure that they are able to show that a competent doctor would have acted differently to the medical professional in your case.
3. Prove that the doctor’s negligence caused injury
The third element that you must demonstrate in a medical malpractice claim is that the doctor’s negligence directly led to injury i.e. if they had acted in the generally accepted way according to the “standard of care”, you would not have suffered the injury,
Again, this is open to some interpretation and can be very challenging to prove, especially if the patient was already sick or injured from an underlying condition – as is often the case in these situations.
You will likely need the opinion and expert testimony of another medical professional and adequate documentation to be able to attribute the precise injuries in your case to medical negligence.
Your medical malpractice attorney will ensure that there is access to such expert witnesses to support your claim.
4. Proving that there were damages associated with the doctor’s negligence
The final element in proving a medical malpractice case is demonstrating that it was the doctor’s negligence that led to the damages suffered in your case.
It is not enough to be disgruntled with the level of care you received. You must be able to link the doctor’s actions to actual losses you have suffered.
These may be material losses such as:
- Additional medical bills
- Lost wages from missed work
There may be other obvious signs of injury, such as:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Permanent injury or disability
Other losses may be more challenging to prove, such as:
- Mental anguish
- Emotional duress
- Loss of future earning capacity
Where medical malpractice leads to the death of a loved one, you may be able to claim for the following types of damages:
- Medical bills prior to death
- Funeral expenses
- Pain and suffering before death
- Loss of future income
- Loss of retirement and healthcare benefits
- Emotional losses, such as loss of affection or companionship, etc.
As you can see, recovering damages for the injuries that you or a loved one suffered is not a simple process and it is not a foregone conclusion that you will win your case.
Your success generally depends on the quality of the legal advice you follow and the experience of your attorney in being able to prove the critical elements of your case, as described above.
Remember that medical malpractice claims in New York have no cap (unlike some states). Also bear in mind that a statute of limitations of two and a half years (30 months) applies from the date of the alleged negligent action or omission that caused the injury.
If you need to discuss a case, contact us here.
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My attorney was meticulous, intelligent, and had an exceptional demeanor with the judge and jurors. When the Jury verdict was returned in our favor I hugged my lawyer and cried. It wasn’t just the money that was so satisfying, it was being in the Courtroom with the doctor and their lawyers when the Judge told them the jury found them responsible.
We were not only pleased with the monetary award, but to see these facilities held accountable, we finally had some closure. I would recommend Sinel & Olesen, PLLC, to any family with a case involving bedsores or medical issues against a nursing home or hospital.
Elliot Sinel was our trial attorney and our whole family watched the jury trial unfold for two weeks. Watching our lawyer cross exam the defendant doctors and nurses and exposing their neglect in the care for our father gave us all a great sense of satisfaction. The jury awarded us a tremendous sum of money and we all felt vindicated…
Sinel & Olesen, PLLC, never told me to settle, instead they brought the case to trial and combined, a jury gave us close to a million dollars. I was very impressed by the trial attorney and the medical expert surgeon that my lawyers brought to court to testify.
Before the case went to trial, Elliot Sinel convinced the insurance company for the nursing home to pay us a large award. My sisters and I always knew that the medical negligence caused my father to suffer. The settlement gave us a feeling that the facility finally acknowledged their wrongdoing…