What Are the Basic Requirements for a Medical Malpractice Claim?

Doctors and other medical professionals have a responsibility to their patients and the general public to execute their duties carefully and diligently. When doctors and other medical professionals are negligent or intentionally harmful, there can be devastating consequences for patients. When medical professionals fail to perform their duties competently and cause harm to patients, it’s called medical malpractice.

When medical malpractice occurs, it’s incredibly important to address for several reasons. The first is that we, as a society, believe that when a person is harmed by the negligent acts of another, they deserve to be made whole. The second is that medical malpractice litigation often brings awareness to issues and helps hospitals or doctors to execute their duties more safely. To file a medical malpractice claim, there are several basic requirements you must be able to meet.

What Are the Basic Requirements for a Medical Malpractice Claim?

If you believe you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice and would like to file a claim, you must be able to show several things. You must prove that a doctor-patient relationship existed, that the doctor was negligent, that your injury was caused by that negligence, and that specific damages occurred as a result of that injury. If you want your claim to be successful, it’s a good idea to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney right away.

There Was a Doctor-Patient Relationship

The first is that a doctor-patient relationship existed. In other words, you must have hired the doctor and the doctor must have agreed to be hired. If, for example, you decide to take advice from a doctor in an unprofessional setting and harm is caused, you can’t sue for medical malpractice. In some cases, a question about whether a doctor-patient relationship exists arises when a consulting physician doesn’t treat a patient directly.

The Doctor Was Negligent

The next thing you must prove is that the doctor was negligent. Some people mistakenly assume that any negative medical outcome or experience is the result of medical malpractice. Just because the results or experience were negative doesn’t necessarily prove that the doctor was negligent. To prove negligence, you must be able to show that the doctor caused harm that a competent doctor in similar circumstances would not have. Doctors are not expected to be miracle-workers, but they are expected to be “reasonably skillful and careful.” In almost all states, patients must present a medical expert to testify about the appropriate medical standard of care and demonstrate how the defendant did not meet that standard.

The Injury Was Caused by the Doctor’s Negligence

Next, you’ll have to prove that the doctor’s negligence caused the injury or harm. Often, when doctors are treating someone who is already injured or sick, it can be difficult to determine if the doctor’s actions or the injury or illness caused the negative outcome. This is another reason why it’s important that a person filing a medical malpractice claim has a medical expert who will testify that the doctor’s negligence caused the injury.

Specific Damages Resulted from the Injury

Finally, you must prove that the doctor’s negligence led to specific damages. Once you’ve made it clear that the doctor didn’t perform to the expected standards of care, you must prove that harm was caused by that negligence. Examples of harm include physical pain, mental anguish, additional medical bills, and lost work or earning capacity.

Contact Us

If you have experienced medical malpractice and believe you can meet these basic requirements, don’t hesitate to contact the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield. We can discuss your case or answer any questions you may have during a free consultation. With over 70 collective years of legal and trial experience, we’re well-equipped to answer any questions you may have or represent your case in court if need be. 


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