Medical negligence and proving fault and liability

| Jun 24, 2021 | Personal Injury |

It is easy to think that professionals, such as doctors, are experts and know what they are doing. Not only have they undergone years of education, but they have the training and knowledge required to diagnose and treat patients. Even though these factors do make them an expert in medicine, it does not mean mistakes will not be made. Human errors do occur; however, negligence could also occur. When harm is caused to a patient due to negligence, it is possible to take steps to hold the medical professional accountable for their wrongdoings.

Proving fault

While medical professionals cannot fix any and all maladies, this does not mean that a failing is not due to negligence. When medical negligence is suspected, four elements need to be proven to hold a medical professional liable.

First, these must be a duty owed to the patient by the doctor. In other words, a doctor-patient relationship has been established. Next, there is an applicable standard of care and the medical professional deviated from it. Third, the deviation from the standard of care caused injury to the patient. Finally, the patient suffered an injury.

Res ipsa loquitur doctrine

Unfortunately, it can be challenging to prove that a medical professional did any wrongdoing. However, in cases where it is not clear what wrongdoing was done, it is still possible to establish liability. The res ipsa loquitor doctrine, which translates to “the thing speaks for itself,” essentially means that the harm suffered would not have occurred if it were not for negligence.

Five factors must be established when using this doctrine. First, there must be evidence that the actual cause of the injury is not obtainable. Next, the injury is not the type that would ordinarily occur in the absence of negligence. Third, the patient was not responsible for their own injuries. Next, the medical professional had exclusive control of the instrumentality that caused the injury. Finally, the injury could not have been could by any other instrument than those which were under control by the medical professional.

Proving fault in a medical malpractice matter can seem challenge, but it is not impossible. Patients and their loved ones that have suffered because of medical negligence should understand that they have rights and options. A medical malpractice action could help offset the financial, physical and emotional damages caused by the matter.