When you visit your doctor or dentist, or pick up a prescription at your pharmacy, or check into the hospital or other health care facility for a surgical procedure or other treatment, the last thing you expect is that something will go wrong and you will become injured or sicker than you were before you went there. Unfortunately, however, medical errors do occur. If you become the victim of one, you have the right to sue the practitioner, and sometimes the facility where he or she practices, for medical malpractice.
FindLaw explains that, if you bring a lawsuit, in all likelihood you and your attorney will bring it under the theory of negligence, meaning that you will not allege that the defendant deliberately injured you. Rather, your allegation will be that he or she committed a negligent act, or negligently failed to act, and this negligence is what caused your injury or illness.
Negligence elements of proof
To win your lawsuit, you will need to prove the following:
- That each defendant owed you a particular duty of care
- That each failed to provide this level of care and thereby breached his or her duty
- That you became ill or injured because of the breach
- That the breach represented the proximate cause of your injury or illness
- That your sustained compensable damages as a result of your illness or injury
Standard of care
Keep in mind that the standard of care varies from practitioner to practitioner depending on what type of medicine or related profession each one practices. For example, your surgeon practices under a different standard than does his or her operating room nurse.
Why is this important to know? Because when you and your attorney go about finding expert witnesses to testify at trial, you will need to engage people who match each of the defendants in terms of education, practice area, background, etc.