If you or a loved one were hurt by a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional, you may want to know if you have a medical malpractice case. Malpractice comes in many forms and can cause significant injuries, medical bills, and other expenses. It can also decrease your quality of life and cause permanent conditions. The medical malpractice lawyers of Hale & Monico have experience with all types of cases and can advise you of your legal rights.
Proving Medical Malpractice
Not all injuries caused by healthcare professionals are due to malpractice. Doctors, nurses, and others in the medical field are not expected to be perfect in how they practice medicine. To prove malpractice, it is necessary to show negligence. More specifically, the plaintiff must establish the following elements:
The existence of a doctor-patient relationship. This requires a professional relationship between the patient and the doctor, nurse, hospital, or other party rendering medical care. There has to be evidence of an agreement by the professional to treat the patient at the time the malpractice occurred. It is usually documented by medical bills. The doctor-patient relationship obligates the professional to provide the patient with a certain standard of care.
Breach of the duty of care. That standard of care is violated by way of medical negligence. There are many ways a healthcare professional can breach this duty. In general, the patient would need to prove that the professional committed unreasonable errors in light of the circumstances. Examples may include failing to properly read test results, to order necessary surgical procedures, or to follow standard protocol in treating a patient.
Causation of the patient’s injuries. The breach must directly cause personal injury to the patient. If it can be shown that the injury is caused by someone other than the defendant, the malpractice claim cannot be maintained.
Damages suffered by the patient. A patient has to show that he or she suffered damages such as medical bills, lost income, and lost earning capacity. Other damages may include pain and suffering, decreased quality of life, and development of complications which themselves cause further medical expenses.
Proving these elements will require a thorough investigation of what exactly took place during the medical procedure. Perhaps the hospital or medical clinic was understaffed, or the treating physician was not properly trained to handle your issue. Either way, you will need expert witness testimony in court to explain what precisely the medical standard of care was and how the professional fell short.
It may be possible to settle your claim with the doctor’s or hospital’s malpractice insurance carrier. Regardless, it is important to keep in mind that you only have a certain amount of time to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit. This is known as the statute of limitations. In Illinois, you have two years from the date of the incident to file your lawsuit. Sometimes, patients do not discover the malpractice until later, so the law also allows two years from the date the patient should have reasonably discovered the incident. However, the maximum time limit is four years in any event.
Contact Our Dedicated Medical Malpractice Today
The sooner you take action in your case, the better. You can count on the dedicated and aggressive malpractice attorneys of Hale & Monico. Contact us today to discuss your case.