March 5, 2020
A very common question that people who are considering filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is, “If I can prove that the defendant violated the standard of care, does that mean I win my case?” This is actually a common area of confusion. The answer to this question may surprise you. One final note, however, you should not try to represent yourself. It is beneficial to understand how your case will work, but leave it to a legal professional to argue your case for you.
The Standard of Care
Every physician is required to meet a certain level of care. This is called the standard of care. If a physician fails to fulfill this obligation, they have violated the standard of care. This is often called a breach of the standard of care as well.
That sounds pretty conclusive, doesn’t it? A physician failed to meet their obligations, so they should be held liable for their actions or inaction, right? Well, it turns out that proving medical negligence is a little more complicated than that. There are actually four components that must each be proven independently. A violation of the standard of care only makes up the first two components. To win your case, the third and fourth components must also be proven.
The four components of negligence are:
As you can see, duty and breach refer to a violation of the standard of care. The physician’s duty is to provide a certain level of care and a breach of that duty is a violation of that level of care. The third and fourth components refer to your injury. Specifically, it must be proven that the injury was a result of the breach of duty, that the injury is real, and that the injury is significant. Only then has it been proven that the physician is liable.
So how can the first two components be proven, but not the second two? Consider an example. If a doctor accidentally diagnosed a patient wrong, that may be cause for a medical malpractice lawsuit. But if the medicine prescribed would have been the same for the correct diagnosis, then the misdiagnosis did not actually cause any harm. It is possible for the violation of the standard of care to be completely coincidental to the injury, which means it must be proven that this is not the case if you want to win your lawsuit. Again, you should leave this up to your medical malpractice lawyer in Orlando, as it is incredibly complicated to legally prove.
Thanks to Needle & Ellenberg, P.A. for their insight into medical malpractice claims and violations of the stands of care.