When you file a medical malpractice claim, you must be able to prove causation. Causation is a legal term that refers to the required proof regarding a particular issue that stems from a specific action. As the plaintiff, you must prove the defendant’s action(s) or failure to act in some way (among other things) contributed to the damages you suffered.
Because there are uncertainties pertaining to the effects of medical treatment for patients, it is essential for the injured party in a medical malpractice claim to prove causation. Various medical issues can add complexity to this process.
For instance, a patient’s condition may include symptoms that replicate those of another medical condition. A patient may incur health problems not connected to the defendant’s past actions. In addition, certain unrelated medical problems experienced by the patient may be responsible for worsening the plaintiff’s condition. These complexities can make causation particularly difficult to prove.
The viability of a medical malpractice claim is based on four important factors explained below:
1. Doctor-patient relationship exists
A medical malpractice lawsuit is only viable if the medical professional in question had a duty to act on behalf of the victim. This duty to act must be according to the generally accepted standard of care for such a provider with his or her level of training and skill. If this doctor-patient relationship does not exist, no case can be made.
2. Proof standard of care was breached
Successful litigation in a medical malpractice case requires proof that the above-mentioned standard of care was breached. This proof can be provided through the combination of an experienced medical malpractice attorney and expert witnesses. As the plaintiff, you must prove that the medical provider failed to deliver the expected level of care for someone having his or her level of training and capability – and thus acted negligently.
3. Proof the negligent care directly caused the harm
Beyond establishing that negligence regarding the care provided or not provided occurred and fell short of the expected standard of care, it is also necessary to prove the negligent care directly caused your injury or illness. Establishing negligence without demonstrating that negligence caused the harm is insufficient to prove medical malpractice occurred.
4. Demonstrable damages occurred
Finally, the damages you sustained as a result of the negligent care provided must be quantifiable. This includes quantifying any increases in medical care costs or lost wages that occurred as a result of the injury or illness. As the injured patient, in order to prove financial compensation is justified you must inform the court of the monetary value associated with your preventable injury or illness. In addition, you must explain the effects of the physical pain and/or emotional distress in a convincing manner to the jury or judge, demonstrating that your injury is real and considerable.