(US law and generally) When medical malpractice occurs, the patient who was the victim and their family often contemplate whether or not they should hire an attorney. A personal injury lawyer can help advise you about how you should proceed. A medical malpractice case, unlike many other types of personal injury such as a car accident, is unlikely to settle without the help of a lawyer. Medical practitioners frequently are reluctant to admit fault. This is due to many factors, such as the complexity of these cases, as well as the fact that doctors do not want to admit that they did or failed to do anything that fell below the standard of care. Doctors, nurses, and other medical practitioners want to preserve their standing in the community and also worry about licensing issues and malpractice insurance.
Unlike a criminal case, in which a defendant must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, medical malpractice must only be proven by a “preponderance of the evidence” standard. This means that the medical practice occurred and was the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries and damages more likely than not.
Most medical practitioners have medical malpractice insurance that can cover the cost of their legal defense and any possible damages awarded. In some cases, doctors do not carry medical malpractice insurance, which likely means in some cases that they have been sued for malpractice previously and their premiums for coverage are higher than they can afford to pay. However, this is unusual. Lawsuits can be controversial in some cases, because there is sometimes a misconception that the person who is sued will have to pay for the damages out-of-pocket. That is usually not the cases, particularly among professionals, such as doctors and hospitals.
Even if a doctor, facility or nurse is found to have committed malpractice in a jury trial, the person or entity may still be allowed to continue practicing medicine, depending on the severity of the conduct and whether there is a repeated pattern of similar behavior. The issue of medical malpractice in a civil trial can uncover evidence to be considered by a state medical board in issuing a cautionary statement, fines, or suspending a practitioner’s license to practice medicine, but the issue is decided by the board, not by a jury. Some doctors and nurses are reluctant to settle because they do not want to admit any fault on the issues, even though these trials are expensive to litigate.
In order to prove a medical negligence case, a personal injury lawyer must hire other medical experts who practice in the same specialty as the defendant to state that the defendant’s conduct fell below the standard of care for that specialty in a same or similar locality. While the experience of a trial can be extremely stressful for the doctor involved, in some cases, it urges caution among other practitioners in the field.
If you believe you have been a victim of medical malpractice, speak to an attorney about your concerns. A lawyer can assess the evidence and assist you in pursuing your claim.