What Must Be Shown to Win a Medical Malpractice Case?
Some of the evidence you must show to win a medical malpractice case includes an established provider-patient relationship, a medical error committed by the provider, injuries caused by the medical error, and damages resulting from the injuries. That means you must show that a healthcare provider was medically negligent in caring for you, which caused you injuries and subsequent damages.
Required Elements in a Strong Medical Malpractice Claim
Your medical malpractice claim must have four key elements:
- A clear provider-patient relationship: You must show that this doctor was treating you for a specific condition or set of symptoms. This establishes that this practitioner owed you a professional duty of care.
- Evidence of the provider’s medical negligence: You also have to show that the provider was medically negligent in providing you care. That means they did not provide the standard of care expected of a medical professional in their field and of their training and experience. This generally refers to a medical error that should not have happened with reasonable care.
- Causal connection between the medical negligence and your injuries: You must also demonstrate that the injuries you’re filing a medical malpractice claim for were directly the result of that provider’s medical error/negligence. You must prove that your injury (such as a worsened condition, new condition, physical injury, or psychological damage) would not have occurred if it wasn’t for the provider’s negligence.
- Resulting damages from your medical malpractice injuries: Your injuries led to economic damages, like unnecessary medical expenses and lost income, and non-economic damages, like pain and suffering.
In general, all these elements work together to prove that your doctor failed to provide you adequate care and that lack of adequate care injured you, resulting in damages. You can use a variety of evidence to prove each of these elements in your claim. A medical malpractice attorney in Las Vegas can help you use evidence to build a case that proves these factors.
You Need an Affidavit of Merit for Medical Malpractice Cases in Nevada
An affidavit of merit, as it’s called in Nevada, is a statement from another medical professional that backs up your medical malpractice claims. This document outlines what another doctor with the same specialty and level of experience would have done in this situation. Essentially, it establishes what the standard of care is in your situation and reveals how the practitioner in question failed to uphold this standard, thus committing medical negligence.
Every medical malpractice claim in Nevada is required to have an affidavit of merit submitted with the legal complaint to the court. If one is not provided, the case may be dismissed “without prejudice,” which means you can resubmit the claim with the affidavit, corrected to include all the required information.
A Nevada personal injury lawyer can seek out a medical professional that matches the practice specialty, level of experience, and quality of training of the offending doctor in your case to have an affidavit of merit drafted.
How to Demonstrate Medical Malpractice With Evidence
Depending on the complexity of your claim, you may have a wide variety of evidence you can show to win a medical malpractice case, including:
- Medical records, including diagnoses, medical history, doctor’s notes, prescriptions, and the lack of proper testing
- Witness testimony from medical team members, other medical professionals you’ve consulted, or even family members who observed your condition
- Expert testimony from the medical professional who wrote the affidavit of merit or other medical professionals who can substantiate the claims
- Photos or videos showing physical injuries and symptoms stemming from the medical error
You can collect some of this evidence on your own, and it’s recommended you provide some strong evidence to your prospective legal team so they can determine the strength of your claim. But a medical malpractice lawyer can gather additional evidence they can show to try to win your medical malpractice case.
What If There Isn’t Evidence of the Cause of My Medical Malpractice Injury?
In some cases, you may not have evidence that demonstrates a direct causal relationship between the actions of a medical professional and the error you suffered from. For instance, if you suffered an infection from a surgical instrument being left inside you after surgery, you may not have evidence (like witness testimony or medical records) that shows the doctor did in fact leave the surgical device in the site.
But per res ipsa loquitor, that medical error would never have occurred if the doctor in question didn’t perform your surgery. This theory demonstrates that, though you cannot specifically prove how the instrument got there, logic tells us that it had to have happened during your medically negligent procedure.
To use res ipsa loquitor, we must prove that:
- This injury would not have occurred if not for negligence.
- The injury occurred while you were in the care of the provider in question.
- You did not contribute to your own injury.
Res ipsa loquitor is typically used for medical malpractice cases where the patient was unconscious, such as under anesthesia during surgery or in a coma. In these states, it’s not generally possible for a patient to contribute to the injury, nor is it possible for them to be aware of how an injury took place.
Proof of Damages in a Medical Malpractice Case
Another set of evidence you’ll need to show to win your medical malpractice case is the damages you’ve sustained because of your medical negligence injuries.
Proving Your Economic Damages
Here are some of the economic damages you may be entitled to and the types of evidence you can use to demonstrate how much these damages have cost you financially:
- Medical expenses: Add up your outstanding medical bills, healthcare insurance claims, prescription receipts, and any expenses related to the malpractice injury.
- Healthcare-related travel expenses: Make sure to save receipts for travel expenses for receiving medical care for your negligence injuries, like mileage, gas, and hotel accommodations for out-of-town stays.
- Lost income: Gather your previous paystubs to show how much you were making before your medical negligence injury. Add up how many paychecks you missed or had wages docked from being unable to work. Calculate paid time off you had to use for medical visits related to these injuries. Check if your retirement accounts, savings, and others have suffered due to your inability to work due to injury.
- Quality of life adjustments: These refer to adjustments to your home or vehicle due to mobility issues, accommodating special at-home care needs, or other adjustments you’ve had to make to accommodate your medical negligence injury. Save receipts for accommodations, and keep all bills and claims for at-home nursing care and medical devices.
- Lost household support: If your family has lost crucial household income and home care support due to losing a loved one to medical negligence, you can recover compensation for these financial costs. Paystubs, receipts for home care services, and estimates for how much household work costs count as evidence.
- Funeral and burial costs: If you lost your loved one due to medical negligence, you can get reimbursed for funeral costs. Keep all receipts for any services related to honoring and burying or cremating your loved one.
The state of Nevada does not cap economic damages for medical malpractice cases, meaning you can recover every cent you’re owed.
Proving Your Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages don’t have a clear financial value like medical bills and lost income. But you can provide evidence to demonstrate your need for compensation to cover these damages.
- Pain and Suffering: You can show medical records indicating that you’re experiencing PTSD, depression, anxiety, or another mental health condition due to medical negligence injuries. You can also have a loved one speak to the physical pain you’re in due to your injuries.
- Diminished quality of life: You can demonstrate that your medical malpractice injuries have affected your ability to help your family take care of the home or enjoy the hobbies and activities you used to love. Witness testimony and personal testimony, as well as photo evidence of you enjoying the hobbies you loved, can be powerful.
- Scarring and disfigurement: Photos and videos showing the physical signs of medical malpractice injuries, such as unnecessary and disfiguring scars, can demonstrate your need for compensation.
Nevada caps the amount of non-economic damages you can recover in a medical malpractice case at $350,000, per NRS 41A.035. But a lawyer can help you calculate the full scale of non-economic damages you’ve suffered to maximize your compensation.
Get Help With Your Medical Malpractice Claim
At De Castroverde Accident & Injury Lawyers, we’re dedicated to helping victims of medical malpractice and their families get the compensation they deserve. Our Las Vegas personal injury lawyer is ready to review your case and determine the best course of action to use evidence to win on your behalf. Contact our office today for your free case evaluation.