What is Medical Malpractice and How to Know If You Have a Case?


Medical malpractice relates to a situation where medical care is received from a doctor and/or other medical staff where the service provided was improperly executed or the standard of care was insufficient. Medical malpractice, what qualifies and what doesn’t, and how cases are pursued varies depending on the state, but most cases must be brought within a couple of years before the statute of limitations has run out.

In this article, we cover some general principals about what experiences might be considered medical malpractice and the type of award or settlement someone might receive through a legal case or an out of court settlement.

What is Medical Malpractice?

Malpractice is a legal term. To boil it down, patients have a reasonable expectation of a certain level of care when visiting or being brought into a hospital to receive treatment. There are often rules about what an appropriate standard is in order to know when it’s been deviated from.

For instance, proving sterile hospital rooms and modern medical equipment is necessary to not introduce infections. Asking the right questions and ordering appropriate tests based on the answers to the right questions would also fall under what’s expected.

How Does a Lawyer Look at Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice lawyers such as those working for Smiley Injury Law consider whether another doctor would have made the same decisions or provided a higher level of care. Would the indicators presented have caused them to order certain tests which would have caught the presence of a disease or injury earlier?

Would earlier treatment have changed the outcome or level of pains and suffering experienced by the patient? As a result, if reasonable procedures were not followed, does this constitute malpractice?

Was There an Injury or Harm Done to the Patient?

When it comes to negligence, showing that harm came to the patient due to poor diagnosis, incorrect treatment or plain neglect goes a long way towards having a valid case.

In terms of harm, it can relate to something as obvious as operating on the wrong leg due to an administrative error or failing to provide sufficient care which led to further harm or a worsening of the medical condition. With the latter, it’s a difficult case to argue and prove that harm was caused by a doctor or other medical staff when the disease, for instance, cancer, also causes deterioration. The harm done might have accelerated the disease, but that’s difficult to definitively prove. Indeed, the standard is that it is “more likely than not” when looking at root causes.

What Is the Level of Malpractice Awards?

The majority of malpractice cases don’t end up with a court trial. Over 85 percent are settled out of court with attorneys working through the fine print of an agreement with the medical facilities and the insurers.

In terms of court settlements, the national average is over $400,000. With court cases that reach the final stage, juries tend to award more, reaching over seven-figures in some cases. However, pursuing a legal case to judgment is expensive for all parties concerned, which is why it’s often advisable to seek a settlement instead.

Each medical malpractice claim is unique. The amount of proof that malpractice occurred, how convincing it is, and the degree of harm are all factors that enter into it. If you think that you might have a case, discuss it with an attorney experienced in these types of cases.

Author: Jeanne

Jeanne San Pascual is a Marketing Manager at ContentHow and a freelance copywriter. In her roles, she wears a gamut of different hats—from running extensive marketing campaigns to writing copy that converts—all to ensure business success on the web. Visit her site to know more about her work and how she can help you!