The Basics of a Medical Malpractice Claim
Our New York law firm, Strazzullo Law Firm, has been representing personal injury claims like medical malpractice, product defects, and car accidents since our beginning in 2001. The rules regarding medical malpractice lawsuits vary from state to state, but here are some general principles that each state abides by for medical malpractice cases.
The basic requirements for bringing a medical malpractice claim must include:
The existence of a doctor-patient relationship. This seems like an obvious stipulation, but you cannot sue a doctor who was not treating you. A physician-patient relationship means that you hired the doctor and the doctor agreed to be hired, and later began seeing you and treating you.
The doctor was negligent. In order to make a medical malpractice claim you must show that the doctor was negligent—not reasonably skillful and careful—in your diagnosis or treatment. Just because you are unhappy with your treatment or results, does not necessarily mean your doctor was negligent.
The doctor’s negligence caused the injury. Because many medical malpractice cases involve patients that were already sick or injured, there is often a question of whether the doctor’s action caused more harm. For example, if a patient dies after treatment for lung cancer, and the doctor did do something negligent, it could be difficult to show that the doctor’s actions, rather than the already present cancer, caused the death. Usually, the patient must have a medical expert testify that the doctor was incompetent or insufficiently careful.
The injury led to specific damages. Even if it is clear that the doctor was negligent in some way, the patient cannot sue if he or she did not experience any harm due to the doctor’s negligence. Some examples of harm for the basis of a lawsuit could include:
- Physical pain
- Mental suffering
- Additional medical expenses, and
- Lost work or earning potential.