Most people have had the experience of going to the doctor with a specific complaint and being surprised with how the doctor diagnosed or recommended treating the problem. In most cases, the doctor’s advice works to treat our problems, and we don’t give these decisions a second thought. But what happens when the doctor fails to diagnose or treat the underlying problem? In serious cases, many people will ask themselves, “Do I have a malpractice claim?”
In fact, medical malpractice claims are tough to win. To succeed, you’ll have to prove that the medical professional acted with negligence and was, therefore, liable, or legally responsible, for your injuries.
Three factors are essential in determining negligence:
- What is the accepted standard of care?
- Was the standard followed?
- Did injury result because the standard wasn’t followed?
For example, suppose there’s a medical condition that affects some women over the age of 55. Doctors agree that all women should be tested for the condition starting at the age of 50 and women with a family history should be tested beginning at age 45. Testing isn’t recommended for women under the age of 45. A 25-year-old woman with no family history goes to the doctor complaining of symptoms that could be caused by this condition, but could also indicate a number of other problems. The doctor doesn’t test the woman for the condition. Later she’s diagnosed with the condition and ultimately dies of it.
In this instance, the doctor probably isn’t liable for malpractice because the accepted standard of care recommended against testing women under the age of 45, and the doctor followed that recommendation.
If it can be proven that your doctor is liable, you would then be entitled to damages. Damages are designed to compensate you for the doctor’s negligence and might include compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical bills.
Most people who file medical malpractice lawsuits hire an attorney to represent them on a contingency basis, which means the lawyer is paid only if the plaintiff wins the case or settles it. Because of this, many malpractice lawyers will only consider taking a case if they think there’s a good chance they can win the case and get substantial damages. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can assess your potential case and advise you of whether it’s worth filing a lawsuit.
By: Jennifer King
At Maya Murphy, P.C., our experienced team of personal injury attorneys is dedicated to achieving the best results for individuals and their families and loved ones whose daily lives have been disrupted by injury. Our personal injury attorneys assist clients in New York, Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Westport, and throughout Fairfield County. If you have any questions relating to malpractice or a personal injury claim or would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact our Westport office by phone at (203) 221-3100 or via e-mail at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.