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Understanding the basics of a medical malpractice lawsuit

On Behalf of | May 6, 2020 | Personal Injury

Our readers in Oklahoma may be surprised to learn that medical malpractice is one of the leading causes of injuries, illnesses and deaths in America each year. That is surprising because America is widely regarded as having some of the best medical professionals and healthcare facilities in the world – and the most expensive, it seems. When healthcare professionals make a mistake, the results can be disastrous for medical patients. Those patients may need to consider the option of pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Medical malpractice lawsuits are similar to other “tort” or personal injury lawsuits in many ways, but differ in substantial ways as well. For example, like all personal injury lawsuits, there are four basic elements for an injured party to prove: 1) duty; 2) breach of the duty; 3) causation; and 4) damages. However, unlike many personal injury lawsuits, proving each of these elements in a medical malpractice lawsuit can hinge on very complicated medical data and opinions. Proving fault in a rear-end car collision is one thing, for example, but proving fault in a complex medical procedure is quite another.

The “duty” in question in a medical malpractice case is the doctor-patient relationship and the obligations that go along with that relationship. This is oftentimes the easiest part of a medical malpractice case to prove. However, from there, these cases usually get much more complex. The “breach” in such a case is, in fact, a showing that the healthcare professional in question deviated from the standard of care that should have been adhered to. Proving this part of the case requires establishing both the exact standard of care, as well as the fact that the healthcare professional deviated from that standard.

The “causation” factor is equally complicated. Was the injury in question actually caused by the healthcare professionals acts or omissions? Or would it have occurred anyways? Understanding these basics building blocks of a medical malpractice case is crucial for any Oklahoma resident who may think that such a claim is applicable in their unique medical situation.


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