Is Medical Malpractice Difficult to Prove?

Medical malpractice is one of the most complex areas of injury law. In addition to navigating the highly technical aspects of modern medicine, attorneys who handle these claims must also challenge the judgment and actions of people entrusted with life-and-death decisions.

If you suspect that errors on the part of one or more healthcare providers caused your injuries or resulted in the injury or death of a loved one, you need a medical malpractice attorney. A lawyer experienced in medical negligence claims will know what evidence to gather in building your case, which experts to hire, and how to pursue compensation on your behalf.

Please call (203) 800-8000 today for a free case review. Our experienced medical malpractice attorneys serve clients throughout Connecticut and New York.

Proving the Negligence of a Medical Provider

One of the most challenging aspects of medical malpractice litigation is identifying negligence on the part of a doctor, nurse, surgeon, or other healthcare professional. Medical professionals are subject to high standards for providing care. However, due to their advanced training and the stressful circumstances under which they often work, doctors and other providers also have fairly significant latitude in making decisions – particularly if a patient’s life is on the line.

In a medical malpractice claim, therefore, a simple mistake is generally not considered negligence. An unfavorable outcome may not be evidence of negligence, either. Instead, the standard of care must be applied to determine whether a medical professional was negligent.

What Is the Standard of Care?

The standard of care is the legal term for what a professional with the same background as your provider would reasonably do in a given situation. It encompasses the diagnosis, treatment, monitoring, and other steps a prudent doctor or other professional would employ in caring for a patient.

Deviations from the standard of care may constitute negligence on the part of the provider. To prove negligence, your attorney must present evidence of (i). what the standard of care is and (ii). how the provider failed to meet the standard.

How an Attorney Can Prove Medical Malpractice

Expert testimony is crucial for establishing both the standard of care and the violations thereof that led to your injuries. The expert(s) in your case must be similarly qualified as the at-fault provider (e.g., a doctor in the same specialty and with similar credentials to your doctor) for their opinion to carry sufficient weight.

Your medical malpractice attorney will investigate to determine how errors on the part of one or more healthcare professionals resulted in your injuries or the loss of your loved one. This investigation may include:

  • Obtaining intake paperwork and other documents that show the existence of a doctor-patient (or provider-patient) relationship
  • A thorough review of your medical records, including tests ordered and performed, medications administered, diagnoses, treatment recommendations, etc.
  • Determining how medical errors caused your injuries or the death of your family member
  • Assessing the nature and seriousness of your injuries or condition; this generally involves an independent examination by one or more medical experts
  • Calculating the damages in your medical malpractice claim; this includes reviewing your medical records, assessing lost wages, determining how your ability to work may be affected, and understanding the hardships you and your family face

Building an effective medical malpractice claim is time-consuming and complicated. It is important to contact an experienced attorney who has the knowledge and resources to handle your case and pursue compensation on your behalf.

Certification Requirements for Medical Malpractice in Connecticut and New York

Many states require plaintiffs to certify the merit of their claim before they can file a medical malpractice lawsuit. In effect, your attorney must be able to assess and demonstrate the validity of your case before legal proceedings can begin. This is achieved through review by a qualified healthcare provider.

In Connecticut, your attorney must file a certificate of reasonable inquiry as part of your medical malpractice claim. New York law requires a certificate of merit for your medical malpractice claim to proceed.

Reasonable Inquiry in Connecticut Medical Malpractice Claims

According to Connecticut’s rules on Court Practice and Procedure, a reasonable inquiry must “determine that there are grounds for a good faith belief that there has been negligence in the care or treatment of the claimant.” This “good faith belief” must be certified by “a written and signed opinion of a similar health care provider … that there appears to be evidence of medical negligence and includes a detailed basis for the formation of such opinion.”

This provision applies in cases of both personal injury and wrongful death involving suspected medical negligence.

Certificate of Merit in New York Medical Malpractice Claims

In cases of medical malpractice, dental malpractice, and podiatric malpractice, New York Civil Practice Law and Rules require the following:

“[T]he attorney has reviewed the facts of the case and has consulted with at least one physician in medical malpractice actions, at least one dentist in dental malpractice actions or at least one podiatrist in podiatric malpractice actions who is licensed to practice in this state or any other state and who the attorney reasonably believes is knowledgeable in the relevant issues involved in the particular action, and that the attorney has concluded on the basis of such review and consultation that there is a reasonable basis for the commencement of such action.”

If the certificate of merit cannot reasonably be obtained within the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims in New York (generally two and a half years), state law does permit the action to be filed without a certificate. Your attorney then has an additional 90 days to file a certificate of merit.

Contact Our Medical Malpractice Attorneys Today

If you have been injured or lost a family member due to negligent medical care, it is important to take action sooner rather than later. Medical malpractice claims are difficult to prove, and you need an experienced attorney who can investigate the circumstances, gather evidence, consult experts, and take additional steps to build your case.

Ventura Law has been serving clients since 1957. We have been helping injured people and their families navigate their legal rights for over 60 years, attaining significant verdicts and settlements on their behalf.

Please call (203) 800-8000 today for a free case review. Our medical malpractice attorneys serve clients throughout Connecticut and New York and can answer any questions you may have.