Medical malpractice occurs when physicians, nurses or other health care professionals fail in their duties to provide adequate care and attention to patients, and the result is undue injury, illness or another adverse effect. Substandard care may take a variety of forms, but claims generally fall into one of three categories: failure to diagnose/misdiagnosis, failure to treat properly or failure to warn a patient of known risks.
To prove medical malpractice, the patient must be able to demonstrate the following four conditions:
- A doctor-patient relationship existed — Demonstrating this is usually quite simple, as the information may be found in medical records. Problems with proving doctor-patient relationships typically arise only when the physician did not treat the patient directly.
- Health care negligence took place — Proving that medical professionals were negligent involves showing that they acted in a way that a competent doctor, under the same set of circumstances, would not have acted. Physicians and nurses are not required to act perfectly at all times, but they are required to act in a reasonably careful and skillful way based on their education and level of training.
- Negligence led to the injury — This can be difficult to prove because many patients are sick or injured before there is ever a question of whether a doctor caused harm. For this reason, a patient must instead be able to prove that it is likely the physician’s negligence directly caused the injury or illness. In many cases, this involves asking a medical expert to testify on the patient’s behalf.
- The injury resulted in specific damages — If it’s clear that the doctor acted in a way that is below the expected standards, patients may sue for the following types of damages: physical pain, mental anguish, lost wages, lost earning capacity and additional medical bills.
To learn more about medical malpractice and to get the legal support you need after being a victim of medical negligence in Bergen County or elsewhere in New Jersey, secure representation from an experienced lawyer.