How Do You Know If You Have a Medical Malpractice Case?

Medical malpractice is a serious civil tort that can change the life of a patient for the worse. It describes any act or omission by a medical practitioner or medical center that someone in the same position would not have committed, resulting in harm to a patient. No patient expects to become the victim of medical malpractice, yet thousands of these cases arise each year in the US. Determining whether you have a medical malpractice case in California could allow you to protect your legal rights.

Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim

All civil claims have burdens of proof. This burden entails evidentiary requirements and the establishment of certain elements. The evidentiary standard during a medical malpractice claim is to prove through a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant caused the plaintiff’s damages. A preponderance of the evidence means that something is more likely to be true than not true. You or your medical malpractice lawyer will have to prove the following elements (in most cases) are most likely true to have a valid medical malpractice suit in California.

  1. You and the physician (or another defendant) had a patient-doctor relationship at the time of the incident. The defendant must have owed you a professional duty to exercise reasonable care. A friend giving you medical advice at a party, for example, will not count.
  2. The defendant failed to fulfill the standards of care necessary for your treatment. The defendant must have gone against his or her duties of care to you in some manner that another reasonable and prudent party would not have under similar circumstances.
  3. The defendant’s breach of the medical duty of care caused your injury or illness. Your lawyer must be able to establish a connection between the defendant’s breach of the medical duty of care and the damages or losses you are claiming.
  4. You have compensable damages due to the incident. You need documentation of your malpractice-related losses, such as medical documents, pay stubs for lost wages, photographs and witness testimony.

Without these four elements, you might not have grounds to file a medical malpractice claim against a defendant in California. Some exceptions exist, however, such as during a medical device product liability lawsuit. A strict California product liability suit will not require the establishment of negligence or a breach of duty of care. Speak to an attorney to find out if your specific circumstances qualify you to bring a medical malpractice claim.

Common Examples of Medical Malpractice

Although almost any act of negligence or recklessness by someone in the health care industry could constitute medical malpractice, certain mistakes lead to lawsuits in California more often than others. If you experienced one of these issues and have injuries as a result, you could have a medical malpractice case.

  • Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose
  • Prescription or medication error
  • Surgical or anesthetic mistake
  • Labor and delivery injury
  • Poor patient care or failure to treat
  • Emergency room error
  • Medical device malfunction

The existence of one of these issues is not proof enough that you are the victim of medical malpractice. Simply experiencing a bad outcome as a patient also does not mean you have a case. Your attorney must be able to prove the defendant’s liability for your damages for an effective medical malpractice claim.

Seek a Medical Malpractice Lawyer’s Advice

The best way to know for sure whether you have grounds to file a medical malpractice case in California is by talking to an attorney. Scheduling a free consultation with a medical malpractice lawyer near you can provide all the answers you need about your individual case. A Sacramento personal injury attorney can help you understand what elements of proof are necessary, how to obtain evidence of a physician’s preventable error, and whether or not your situation qualifies as medical malpractice. If you do have a case, a lawyer can represent your best interests during insurance settlement negotiations or a medical malpractice lawsuit in your county to improve your odds of obtaining compensation.