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Medical Malpractice Attorney’s Role

Medical malpractice is a common occurrence affecting nearly 50 million people a year. A malpractice suit may be filed if a doctor has failed to provide adequate care or a failure to diagnose or misdiagnose a disease or condition. Delaying treatment is also cause to file a medical malpractice suit.

When a person files a malpractice suit, the job of the medical malpractice attorney is to determine the doctor’s negligence and reap the compensation for monetary damages as well as any pain and suffering the plaintiff may have incurred.

If death has occurred, a malpractice attorney’s job will be to collect any damages for the loved ones of the deceased. This is a fairly complicated situation since malpractice has strict laws and regulations and meets a particular statute of limitations, which can be different from state to state.

Types of Damages

There are two types of damages that a person can claim and depending on how good the medical malpractice attorney is, they could get the person both compensatory and punitive damages.

Compensatory damages are financial benefits that a person is due to compensate for their loss. The monies due to a person can range from just some of the hospital bills, to the entire bill of the surgery, hospital stay and procedures. Pain and suffering compensation may also be due but this is a hard case to plea as it may be considered subjective.

Punitive damages are put into action to serve as an example. Money claimed from these damages is not meant to go directly to the victim of the malpractice suit, but is more so to teach a lesson to the doctor who was negligent. These damages are extremely hard to pursue, as it is difficult to prove the doctor had conscious malicious intent toward the patient.

What Should Your Attorney Know?

Attorneys who are proactive in the medical malpractice field must be schooled on the various statutes of limitations that each state upholds. The statue of limitations is the time that a person can legally file a claim. Varying from state to state, these factors must be of full knowledge to the attorney as well as the client so they know the time frame that is available to have their claim be creditable.

If a medical malpractice attorney is well versed in all of the laws of their state they can be extremely successful in reaping the benefits for the client. There have been cases when an attorney has won a judgment totaling in the millions of dollars. Again, the attorney must know their individual state laws and have evidence that support their client’s claims. The better the evidence, the better the outcome of the case.

Insufficient evidence can result in a very difficult case to prove, many medical malpractice suits are very hard to prove. The main job of the attorney is to prove both negligence and loss as the result. Studies and previous outcomes of cases has shown that many doctors are willing to settle out of court as to not draw attention to their practice or the hospital affiliations they have.

What the Attorney has to prove

There are four things that must be proven in court for a medical malpractice suit to be effective:

  • A duty was owed
  • A duty was breached
  • The breach caused an injury
  • Damages occurred

The severity of a medical malpractice lawsuit requires that each of these four criteria be met and proven. A brief explanation is required due to the importance of each criterion.

The first point, “A duty was owed�?, is whenever a hospital or health care provider takes on the treatment of a patient whether it be in the form of treatment, diagnosis or advice. This establishes the relationship between doctor and patient.

When “A duty was breached�? this means the health care provider failed to meet an important standard in the care of the patient at the time of assistance, treatment or diagnosis. This is normally established by expert testimony or, in the case of an object left in a patient, the object itself is proof enough.

If “The breach caused an injury�? then something that the health care provider did caused harm in some form to the patient. This must be proven that as a direct result of actions, lack of action or information, the patient came to harm.

Lastly, in order for the case to proceed, “Damages occurred�? to the patient. This means that some form of physical harm or emotional distress came about as a result of the medical malpractice of the health care provider.

These four criteria are paramount to the malpractice attorney in proving that medical malpractice occurred.

Closing Argument

A medical malpractice attorney has a very difficult job. They must prove that, through an accident or through bad practices, a health care provider has caused harm to their client. There are many laws, guidelines and protocols that must be met in order for the attorney to do their job effectively and correctly. False malpractice lawsuits hurt more than just the doctor or establishment in question. It can, through a chain of events, end up costing the patient more money in health care and insurance premiums. The role of a medical malpractice attorney is one that requires great schooling, training and experience in both the law and in medicine.