How to Win a Medical Malpractice Case
Outside of routine examinations, visiting a medical professional tends to cause angst in most patients. First, the patient is suffering something, whether it be symptoms relating to pain or illness. Further, there is always the fear that the diagnosis may be something debilitating, permanent, or terminal. In most cases, the medical professional, after analyzing all the facts, makes a determination of the issue, and informs the patient not only what the issue is, but how to treat it. However, in some cases, the diagnosis and/or treatment may be inappropriate and cause harm to the patient. In these instances, whether the improper diagnosis and/or treatment rises to the level of medical malpractice is best handled by an experienced medical malpractice attorney. If the medical provider acted wrongly, then it is up to the patient, and his/her attorney, to convince a jury of the medical professional’s error. Recently, a Michigan appellate court reversed a holding of medical malpractice in a case involving a man who alleged an injury to his left arm diagnostic imaging of a spider bite. The court decided the patient did not show a connection between the breach of the medical standard of care and his injury. A discussion of the elements of medical malpractice, and what a patient must prove in order to be successful in these cases, will follow below.
Medical Malpractice in Florida
Pursuant to Florida law, medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional acts negligently, whether through his/her actions or his/her omissions. Thus, medical malpractice is, in effect, a specialized type of negligence action. In the medical context, negligence occurs when the medical professional did not perform according to a standard of care when treating a patient; that is, the medical professional breached his/her standard of care. Generally, the standard of care refers to the level of care, skill, and treatment that is acceptable and appropriate by a reasonably prudent and similar medical professional. By looking to a similar medical professional, this necessarily means that the standard of care of a specialist varies according to that specialty. But, the core elements of a medical malpractice case always include the following:
- A standard of care accorded to a medical professional;
- A breach of that standard of care;
- An injury, suffered as a result of the breach; and
- Discernable damages, such as disability, additional medical treatment, suffering, etc., caused by the injury.
Burdens of Proof
What happened to the patient in the Michigan case cited above was that he failed to prove these elements. In legal terms, this is referred to as the burden of proof. Basically, the burden of proof is a legal construct which places the duty on one of the parties to show that the other party is responsible for the alleged harm. The Michigan court noted that it is the patient that has to illustrate each of the above-listed elements of medical malpractice. This is also the law in Florida.
What the patient in Michigan failed to show was the causation element – that the injury was suffered as a result of the breach of the standard of care. Typically, this is the most difficult element to show. To be successful with specific reference to this element, the patient must illustrate some connection between the error of the medical professional and the injury. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can focus their strategy on this connection, and help ensure the injured victim has a fair chance at obtaining compensation.
Seek Legal Advice
Suffering an injury due to a medical professional’s error is a horrible situation that is hard to ever fully get over. If you were harmed while under a medical professional’s care, contact the Miami law firm of Pita Weber & Del Prado to learn about the possibility of filing a legal claim. Having the right attorney to handle your medical malpractice case makes the process less daunting, and much more likely to lead to a successful outcome. Contact our Miami office today for an initial consultation.