A medical malpractice action is an action taken against a health care professional based on negligence. Medical malpractice actions most commonly involve doctors or physicians, but nurses, physicians’ assistants, or anyone else who provides medical care to a patient can also be sued for malpractice.
There are four elements your First Coast medical malpractice attorney must show in your claim. The first is a duty to provide a certain “standard of care.” This means that a doctor or other health care professional must have the same level of skill and knowledge as other professionals in his or her field and must apply that skill and knowledge using appropriate care.
In order for this duty to arise, your First Coast medical malpractice lawyer must show that the medical professional had a doctor-patient relationship with you. Usually, this relationship is created when a doctor agrees to treat you, but it can also arise in other ways. In some jurisdictions, hospitals must provide emergency assistance to anyone who comes to them. In such a case, the hospital must exercise a “standard of care,” even though they did not explicitly agree to a doctor-patient relationship.
The second element your attorney must show is a “breach” of the required standard of care. This means that the medical professional who treated you lacked the requisite knowledge or skill or failed to exercise care when applying the skill and knowledge. This breach can occur through neglect or an intentional act. This element is usually comparatively easy to prove.
The third element is “causation,” which means that the medical provider’s breach of his or her duty needs to have “caused” your injury. What this means varies from state to state. In some states, you cannot receive an award for damages if you contributed to your injury in any way. In Florida, you can recover for damages even if you are partly at fault. The amount you can recover will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if a jury finds that you are 10 percent responsible for your injury, your award for damages will be reduced by 10 percent.
Sometimes, even if you can show that medical negligence caused your injury, the medical professional will not be held liable because the injury you suffered was not foreseeable at the time the negligence occurred. In such a case, we would say that the negligence was not a “proximate cause” of your injury.
Finally, your First Coast medical malpractice lawyer must show damages that were caused by the medical professional’s negligence. Damages need to be quantified in monetary terms, and the question is how much will it cost to compensate you for your losses? Factors to consider include medical costs, lost income or wages, disability, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.