What are Valid Reasons to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Against a Doctor?

What are Valid Reasons to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Against a Doctor

Suffering life-altering injury or illness after a doctor’s mistake sparks an agonizing dilemma – do you brush substandard care under the rug or pursue complex malpractice litigation seeking accountability? 

Medical liability cases require meeting rigorous standards to succeed. Not all physician errors, even those causing harm, legally constitute actionable negligence. 

In this article, I discuss vital criteria distinguishing valid justifications for a malpractice claim versus situations falling short despite care quality questions.

Defining Medical Malpractice and Negligence

Medical errors cause over 250,000 deaths annually, according to Johns Hopkins — the third leading cause of death nationwide. Medical negligence occurs when a healthcare provider fails to meet accepted medical standards, causing preventable patient injury or death. 

Simply put, a medical malpractice case will aim to prove:

  • Duty: The healthcare provider owed a duty of care to the patient
  • Breach of Duty: The healthcare provider failed to provide an acceptable level of care
  • Causation: This breach directly caused verifiable harm to the patient
  • Damages: This breach led to monetary or non-monetary losses that can be calculated

If all four elements are substantiated, you may have a valid reason to sue a doctor or healthcare provider and grounds to pursue financial compensation and justice through formal civil litigation against the providers and organizations involved.

Defining the Medical Standard of Care

Every healthcare physician takes some variation of the Hippocratic Oath, or a promise to “not harm” as they begin working in the medical field. Yet, how are appropriate standards of care established? What should you reasonably expect from healthcare services?

Medical standards represent what a minimally competent physician or facility in that field would provide under similar circumstances. National medical societies such as the American College of Cardiology help shape these specialized standards, strengthened by state laws. 

Finally, healthcare and medical facilities create internal guidelines, further defining appropriate standards of care for their facilities. In California, standards often derive from a locality rule that ties facilities to other similar facilities and providers in their community.

Standards also evolve with technology and knowledge improvements. For example, the invention of 3D digital mammography set higher expectations for doctors to recommend and perform breast cancer screening sooner than before.

When to Sue a Doctor for Medical Malpractice

Unfortunately, there are abundant ways providers breach safety standards. From 2018-2022, the failure to properly diagnose patients accounted for 34% of all medical malpractice payouts nationally. Other common issues cited in medical malpractice cases include:

  • Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis
  • Unnecessary or harmful surgeries
  • Mistakes during the surgery itself
  • Medication errors, such as prescribing medication that has detrimental side effects 
  • Discharging patients from hospitals or facilities prematurely
  • Failing to order crucial tests or facilitate appropriate medical consultations

Healthcare providers may also fail to adhere to their standard of care duties through poor communication, often lacking the proper, informed consent required from their patients.

When to Sue Doctors or Practitioners for Informed Consent Violations

Beyond pure treatment errors, you or your family likely put deep trust in providers’ recommendations for procedures, devices, drugs with side effects, or end-of-life choices. 

However, securing informed consent remains an ethical and legal obligation before significant decisions. Informed requires that your healthcare provider:

  • Discloses all potential risks involved with any procedures or treatment
  • Presents all reasonable alternatives, including the pros and cons of not undertaking treatment
  • Ensures that the patient completely understands the treatment before giving their consent to the treatment

By understanding why doctors may get sued due to improper patient standards during consent, you can better understand when to take legal action.

Seeking Accountability Through Medical Malpractice Claims

You and your family deserve quality medical care. If substandard services result in significant, unnecessary harm, you may have grounds to pursue a formal medical malpractice lawsuit.

Here is a brief overview of how medical justice claims progress in California:

  1. Pre-Filing Preparations: After your or a loved one has been harmed, begin the claims process by requesting & gathering all relevant medical records
  2. Filing the Lawsuit or Complaint: Within one year of the date the harm or injury occurred, file your complaint before a California court.
  3. Legal Discovery Phase: Exchange pertinent information and evidence with the defending doctor or healthcare provider. This phase often takes the longest.
  4. Pretrial Settlement Conferences: You can sometimes settle your medical malpractice case without needing a full trial. If so, this is usually done during pretrial conferences or private negotiations before a judge or mediator.
  5. Trial: The malpractice case will proceed to trial. If you have a medical malpractice attorney, they can help you prove the doctor’s or facility’s liability “within a reasonable degree of medical probability.”
  6. Damages: The court will decide what to award you in damages or compensation, including future medical costs and lost income.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the top reasons for medical malpractice lawsuits in California?

Some common reasons that people sue medical professionals or facilities in California are failure to diagnose, birth injuries, surgical errors, lack of informed consent, and medication errors. Failure to diagnose makes up an estimated 34% of cases, with many lawsuits involving missed cancer diagnoses.

What does a medical malpractice plaintiff in California need to prove?

To win a medical malpractice lawsuit in California, plaintiffs must prove the doctor owed a duty of care, failed to meet the medical standard of care, which resulted in preventable injury, and that their negligent failure directly caused harm.

What are the most common medical errors resulting in California malpractice lawsuits?

The most common medical errors resulting in California malpractice lawsuits are misdiagnoses, birth-related brain damage, tools left inside surgical patients, wrong-site surgeries, and medication overdoses.

You Have Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys with DP Injury Attorneys

While every situation differs, top California medical malpractice law firms can carefully evaluate your circumstances before mapping an appropriate route toward justice, accountability, and closure after your life has been altered due to medical negligence.

With experience representing California patients and families like yours, personal injury attorneys respect how traumatic medical mistakes and complications can be. Oversights can erode anyone’s trust in the medical system. They listen compassionately and then work relentlessly to pursue justice when patients and relatives are harmed by medical negligence. 

Contact DP Injury Attorneys today to arrange your case consultation if you have questions after a medical procedure has gone wrong. Their team stands ready to carefully explain standards, evidence, and litigation procedures while walking you through the following steps.


Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *