You’ve been suffering from a chronic cough for weeks. You finally go to the doctor, who runs a cursory examination and diagnoses you with allergies. He recommends you take an antihistamine and sends you on your way.
But your cough only worsens. A few weeks later, you see a different doctor, who does an x-ray and determines that, in fact, you have pneumonia. Only by this point, the disease has advanced so much that it has caused scarring and permanent damage to your lungs and airways.
The above scenario is a typical example of medical malpractice. If you’ve suffered due to a doctor’s negligence, you have the right to take legal action to seek compensation. However, proving medical malpractice isn’t as straightforward as proving fault for other types of personal injuries – such as a car accident. In this post, we examine the extra challenges that plaintiffs face in such cases.
For medical malpractice suits, the plaintiff’s burden of proof is high. They must demonstrate that:
- The doctor or medical facility violated their standard of care and
- This violation led to the injury (or death) of the patient.
While at first glance, the above connections may seem easy to prove, there are certain factors that can create an advantage for the defendant.
In proving or refuting medical negligence, both parties will typically use expert medical testimony in court. The defendant – a medical professional – usually has an easier time finding medical experts who can testify on their behalf.
While a jury may sympathize with the pain and suffering of a plaintiff, their judgment comes down to understanding how the medical evidence satisfies the above-stated burden of proof. Because medical malpractice cases often involve evidence and testimony that is highly scientific or technical in nature, it can be complicated for a jury of laypeople to understand.
The above factors create challenges for a plaintiff pursuing a medical malpractice suit. For this reason, it is especially important to hire an attorney with deep experience in this field – someone who has the ability to secure appropriate medical experts and to break down complex medical information in a way that is easily comprehensible to the general public.