Proving Causation in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Scaffidi & Associates discusses the best ways for proving causation in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

People make mistakes occasionally. However, when doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals make mistakes, the results can be life-altering and potentially deadly. Medical malpractice laws protect patients in the event that a healthcare provider is negligent and that negligence causes injuries to a patient. A New York medical malpractice attorney helps individuals and families prove causation in a medical malpractice lawsuit so that they can receive compensation for their injuries, losses, and damages.

The Four Elements of a New York Medical Malpractice Claim

When you allege a doctor or other health care provider committed malpractice, you must prove four legal elements. The basic elements of a medical malpractice case are:

  • Duty — The physician or provider owed a duty of care to the patient. This element is usually the easiest element to prove. Providing evidence of a doctor-patient relationship typically satisfies this legal requirement.
  • Breach — The second element may be more difficult to prove. The evidence must demonstrate that the doctor’s actions or inactions breached the duty of care. In most cases, this element requires testimony from a medical expert stating that the physician’s conduct deviated from the accepted standard of care.
  • Causation — This legal requirement also requires expert testimony. The evidence must show that the failure to fulfill the duty of care was the direct and proximate cause of the injury. Without causation, even though there is an injury, the case does not rise to the level of medical malpractice.
  • Damages — The last element of a medical malpractice case is to prove that the patient sustained injuries and was damaged. Damages in a medical malpractice case include physical injuries, financial losses, pain, and suffering.

Proving Causation Requires Expert Testimony

In a medical malpractice case, injuries can be the result of several causes. Even though there is evidence of medical negligence or errors, another factor could be the direct or proximate cause of the injury. In these cases, the proof often comes down to the opinions of medical experts from each side who testify that the cause was or was not (plaintiff vs. defendant respectively) due to medical errors or negligence.

Additionally, there must be proof that an injury occurred. Again, a medical error or other wrongdoing could have occurred, but it may not have resulted in an injury. Therefore, proving causation relies on the fact that an injury did occur. It is not sufficient to only show that a medical provider committed medical negligence, error, or wrongdoing. 

It is similar to investigating a DUI accident. A driver may be drunk at the time of the accident, but if the drunk driver did not cause the crash, he cannot be held legally liable for damages arising from the crash. A doctor can make a mistake, but if that mistake did not cause the injury to the patient, the doctor might not be held liable for medical malpractice.

Contact a New York Medical Malpractice Attorney to Discuss Your Case

Proving medical malpractice calls for specialized legal counsel, with experience in handling these cases. Contact a New York medical malpractice attorney to get the legal counsel and direction you need regarding your malpractice claim. An experienced New York medical malpractice attorney understands the challenges, including the problems and difficulties, often encountered when gathering evidence to prove causation.

Posted in: Medical Malpractice

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