If you have been the victim of medical malpractice, you probably knew that what was happening was unfair. The real question is, who was responsible? And who would be liable if you decided to file a lawsuit?
The answer is that one or more of the people or entities that were responsible for your care could be responsible. In order to prove that someone was at fault, you will need to show that they owed you a duty of care that they failed to meet, causing you demonstrable, costly injuries. You and your attorney should consider any and all potential defendants, including doctors, nurses, administrative staff, the hospital itself, or other parties such as pharmaceutical companies.
If all of this sounds complicated, Bennett & Heyman can make everything much easier for you. Our experienced Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers can work with you to identify responsible parties and prepare your lawsuit so that you get compensation. To hear more for free, call us at (410) 429-7856.
Proving Fault in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
In order to succeed in a medical malpractice lawsuit, you will need to prove that the defendant (whether that be a hospital, doctor, nurse, or some combination) was at fault for your injuries. There are four key elements in a medical malpractice claim: existence of a duty of care, failure to meet the standard of care, malpractice as the cause of the injury, and damages as a result of the injury.
Existence of a Duty of Care
Doctors and other medical professionals owe a legal duty of care to their patients when they agree to provide medical assessment or treatment. The extent of the duty of care is determined by what other similarly situated professionals in the same field would find reasonable in the same situation. Proving this element typically requires the use of expert witnesses to establish the standard for that specific case.
Breach of Standard of Care
When a medical care provider fails to follow the standard of care, they have breached their duty. Doctors and other care providers might breach the standard of care through their negligent, reckless, or intentionally harmful actions (or inactions).
Cause of the Injury
A defendant can argue that the condition would have gotten worse even if they acted properly. They could also point to a preexisting condition as a cause of your damages. Your medical malpractice lawyer can help you compile evidence to the contrary so that you can beat these defenses.
In order to recover money from your lawsuit, you have to prove what costs and harms you suffered. This is called damages. Damages could include additional medical expenses that you incurred because of the malpractice, such as reparative care or extra surgeries. You can also be compensated for the pain and suffering you have and will experience in the future as a result of the malpractice.
Some states limit the amount of damages you can recover for medical malpractice. If you have questions about how much your potential lawsuit might be worth, speak to one of our capable medical malpractice attorneys today.
Parties that May Be Liable for Medical Malpractice
Many different people and entities are involved in the medical care process. Sometimes, it may be difficult to identify who is responsible for an instance of medical malpractice. Below are some summaries of the most common roles in the medical field and how liability may or may not attach to them.
Hospitals and Healthcare Facilities
Whether private or public, large or small, hospitals are responsible for the negligence of administration and staff members. This liability extends only to instances where staff members were performing the responsibilities of their job when the negligence occurred. For instance, if a hospital secretary leaves work, goes to a bar, gets drunk, and drives home, the hospital cannot be held liable if the secretary injures someone in a car accident just because the secretary is a staff member.
Some physicians are classified as independent contractors rather than employees. Since these doctors are technically not staff members of the hospital where they practice, they may be held individually liable for medical malpractice depending on the circumstances. Most doctors who work in private practice obtain insurance that covers them in the case of medical malpractice, so you shouldn’t worry about if the doctor that committed medical malpractice can afford to personally pay up for damages.
Other Medical Professionals
Medical professionals other than doctors, such as nurses, nurse practitioners, technicians, and physician’s assistants are just as capable of committing medical malpractice. People in these roles are typically employees of the hospital or healthcare facility rather than independent contractors. Therefore, if a nurse were responsible for medical malpractice, the hospital would likely bear the liability.
Pharmaceutical companies typically do a thorough job of preventing liability from the use of their products. However, if the company does not properly test or store the product, or if they fail to advise doctors on risks and side effects from the medication, they will likely be responsible for any harm that befalls a patient. If you have a case against a pharmaceutical company, it is no longer a traditional medical malpractice lawsuit, and you should speak with your lawyer to assess your case.
Naming Multiple Parties in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
You do not have to pick just one party to file a suit against. In many cases, more than one person or entity may be responsible for the harm done to you as a result of medical malpractice. This may seem complicated to someone who just wants to recover for their injuries.
Fortunately, you will be able to name multiple parties as defendants in your malpractice lawsuit, rather than having to pick and choose. Your lawyer will help you identify all parties who you should include as defendants in your malpractice suit. Typically, those defendants (and their insurance companies) will argue amongst themselves about who is liable, but you won’t have to deal with that yourself.
We Can Help You Figure Out Who Is at Fault for Your Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
At Bennett & Heyman, we aim to achieve the compensation that our medical malpractice victims deserve to recover from their injuries. To hear more about what services our medical malpractice lawyers can offer you, call (410) 429-7856 to schedule your free initial consultation.