What You Should Know About Medical Malpractice Damages


You cannot sue the medical professional unless you can prove that he or she was negligent. Negligence is a legal term for a failure to follow normal standards of reasonable care in providing treatment, diagnosis, and preventive services to patients. When negligence occurs due to an error in judgment, which causes unnecessary injury or wrongful death, it is considered professional malpractice.

The damages that a person can recover in a medical malpractice lawsuit vary from state to state, but they often include compensation for past and future medical expenses, lost wages, pain, and suffering, emotional distress, or loss of companionship (for wrongful death). Punitive or exemplary damages may be available if the doctor’s negligence was due to recklessness or willful disregard for the patient’s well-being, although those damages are more difficult to prove in medical malpractice cases as opposed to other types of personal injury suits.

The following information is intended only as a brief overview of how most states handle medical malpractice claims and compensation. It is prudent that you consult with an experienced attorney in your area as medical malpractice laws in your state may differ from the processes and procedures outlined.

Wrongdoing by a Medical Professional

Medical professionals are bound by certain codes of ethics, which guide their decisions, treatment, and actions when they treat patients. When these standards are not met, it can be seen as professional negligence or misconduct. An experienced attorney can help you establish that a medical professional’s negligence occurred, and the resulting damages in your case.

Establishing Medical Negligence

The components of malpractice or medical negligence vary from state to state, but all involve the following factors:

A duty owed by the doctor or hospital

In order to win a medical malpractice claim, you must prove that a doctor or medical professional owed your family member a duty of care. This obligation can be determined by looking at the doctor-patient relationship as it existed between the parties leading up to the injury or death in question.

The standard of care that was breached

The “standard of care” is an objective test based on the hypothetical actions of a reasonable doctor or medical professional. In other words, your attorney will try to determine what other doctors in my area would do if they were treating someone injured as you believe your family member was.

A breach of that standard by the defendant

You must also show that the accused acted below this accepted standard, thereby breaching his or her duty of care to your family member. This element is commonly known as the “breach”, which means that the doctor’s actions fell below what would be expected in similar circumstances.

A cause of action

Finally, you must show that the defendant’s alleged failures were actually responsible for causing your loved one’s injury or death.

It is not enough to show that the doctor’s negligence caused some harm or injury. It must be proven that the medical professional’s actions led directly to your family member’s injuries.

Compensation for Medical Malpractice Damages

If you have decided to pursue a medical malpractice claim in court, you will need to prove damages resulting from the negligence of the medical experts.

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