Medical malpractice refers to a failure on the part of a doctor or healthcare provider to provide reasonably competent care. When a doctor or other healthcare provider makes mistakes or falls short in fulfilling his obligation to patients, the injured patient or his surviving family members can file a medical malpractice claim.
Medical Malpractice in St. Louis Missouri
How Does a Medical Malpractice Case Work?
Doctors and other healthcare professionals are expected to be reasonably competent when providing care to patients. If a doctor fails to do this and causes his or her patients to experience worse health problems or to be harmed in any way, that doctor can be held legally liable.
An injured patient who is harmed by medical malpractice can file a personal injury lawsuit to take legal action, while medical malpractice that causes a death can lead to a wrongful death claim by surviving family members.
The injured victim or his/her family members can file a lawsuit in a court of law where the medical mistake was made. To win the medical malpractice case, the plaintiff would need to show:
- That the doctor owed the patient a duty or had a responsibility to a patient. All care providers owe a duty of care to patients who they have agreed to help or treat or who they are providing advice to in a professional capacity.
- That the doctor or care provider fell short in his duty. This is called a breach of legal duty. An injured victim must prove that a breach of legal duty occurred by showing that any reasonable doctor would have done better or not made the mistakes the doctor made. Often, expert witnesses are required to prove a breach of legal duty.
- That the doctor or care provider caused harm as a result of his breach. The plaintiff needs to show that there was a direct link between the care provider’s negligence or mistakes and physical harm to the victim.
- That the victim can be compensated for the harm. Typically, medical malpractice victims can obtain monetary compensation for pain and suffering, lost income/wages, emotional distress and any medical bills necessary to treat health problems resulting from the medical malpractice. Wrongful death damages, on the other hand, include compensation for lost financial support as well as for funeral expenses and lost companionship.
Many medical malpractice cases settle outside of court, with the malpractice insurer offering the injured patient or his loved ones compensation in exchange for giving up the legal right to sue. Not all cases are resolved outside of court, however, and in some cases, a plaintiff must show by a preponderance of the evidence that all he has said is true.
An experienced St Louis Missouri medical malpractice attorney can help injured victims or their family members to take legal action and put together a strong case against a negligent doctor or healthcare provider. Attorneys can help both with negotiating settlements and with proving a medical malpractice case in court.