Medical malpractice cases are hard to win because the bar for proving negligence is high and it can be expensive and time consuming to research the issues, get the necessary medical testimony and build a compelling case.
What Is Required for Proving a Medical Malpractice Case?
Your medical malpractice lawyer must prove:
• The medical professional owed you a duty of care
• The doctor, nurse or doctors’ assistant didn’t meet the standard of care
• The doctor’s failure to maintain that standard of care caused an injury
• That injuries resulted in some type of damages, whether monetary, emotional, pain and suffering or all of the above
Some of those requirements are easy to prove. If you’re being treated by a physician, a nurse or a physician’s assistant in any kind of official medical capacity there is an implicit duty of care established.
The injuries and resulting damages are also relatively easy to prove in serious medical malpractice cases. However, if the injuries aren’t severe enough to result in significant damages you may have trouble finding a medical malpractice attorney to take your case.
There are certain types of medical malpractice cases that get a lot of press because it is easy for people to empathize with the horror the victim and their family experience. Surgical mistakes, for example, tend to get a lot more press than a minor misdiagnosis or even medical mistakes during childbirth. When a patient is scheduled for an amputation and the surgeon amputates the wrong arm or leg, it understandably gets people’s attention.
In an amputation error case, the damages are easy to identify. The person will have every aspect of their life effected permanently and to a drastic degree. It’s easy for the average juror to put themselves in the plaintiff’s shoes and imagine how difficult their life would become in that situation.
There are other cases where the injury is harder to identify, or the damages aren’t significant enough to justify a lawsuit.
For example, let’s assume you or a loved one contracted the coronavirus early in 2020 but your doctor diagnosed you as having the flu. You felt horrible for weeks but managed to recover at home without having to go to the hospital.
In that scenario your doctor may have misdiagnosed you, but that misdiagnosis didn’t result in a severe injury or cause financial, physical or emotional damage. Another doctor may examine the case and determine your physician met the necessary standard of care and simply didn’t have the resources or had no reason to suspect coronavirus was spreading through the community.
Your doctor may have misdiagnosed you and it took an extra month for you to recover due to that mistake, but the monetary or pain and suffering damages may not justify bringing a medical malpractice suit against them.
A person in that situation may have trouble finding an attorney to represent their case if there was no lasting damages or severe repercussions for the victim.
COVID-19 Medical Malpractice Cases
There are likely going to be a fair number of medical malpractice cases that pertain to COVID-19. There are already suspicions that some people who were diagnosed with the flu during the 2019/2020 flu season may have had COVID-19.
Depending on the patient outcomes, some families may want to file medical malpractice suits for misdiagnosing COVID-19 as the flu.
The reason these cases could be particularly hard is the standard of care questions. It may be hard to convince a jury that another doctor would have made the correct COVID-19 diagnosis when, at the time, no doctors were diagnosing or even testing for COVID-19.
However, you or your loved one could have a coronavirus case if:
• You went to the doctor in March 2020 or later and it was known there was community spread of coronavirus near you
• Someone you knew or worked with had been diagnosed with COVID-19
• Your doctor diagnosed you with the flu and told you to rest at home
• Your health deteriorated and you had to be admitted to the hospital and put on a ventilator for weeks
• You suffer permanent cognitive and respiratory damage due to being heavily sedated for the duration of your hospital stay
In that scenario, the injury due to the misdiagnosis is easily identifiable. You may never be able to return to work and may suffer emotional pain and suffering or loss of consortium for years to come, if not for the rest of your life. Those types of long-term medical and psychological damages may justify filing a lawsuit.
That being said, you would still need to obtain testimony from another doctor performing in the same field as the physician who misdiagnosed you. This doctor would need to testify on exactly how your doctor’s actions failed to meet the standard of care. If other doctors say your doctor did everything right, your case could be harder to win.
Do You Have a Medical Malpractice Case?
If you or a loved one have suffered damages due to the mistakes of your primary care physician, surgeon, obstetrician or another medical specialist, consider contacting the Dressie Law Firm. We understand how difficult these situations are for families and are committed to fighting for Atlanta area patients who are struggling to get by after suffering the results of a medical mistake.
Call us at (770) 756-6333 for a free consultation.