Liability in DC Medical Malpractice Cases 

Medical malpractice can be difficult to file claims for because the plaintiffs and their lawyers are tasked with establishing liability in DC medical malpractice cases. However, an experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you or your loved one prove negligence or deviation from accepted medical practices. Retain a lawyer that can help you establish liability and can build your medical malpractice case.

Proximate Cause and Recovery of Damages

Proximate cause refers to an event that has caused/resulted in an injury. A proximate cause can be very complicated when considering the liability in DC medical malpractice cases. That is because often times a victim of medical malpractice is someone who already is sick or injured, and there are other doctors and other healthcare professionals involved in the treatment.  If someone is already sick or injured, it is more difficult to link those factors to the medical negligence, the injuries, and the proximate cause. People can recover damages for medical malpractice caused by negligence if they can show proximate cause, or they can show a departure from accepted standards of practice.

A person can also recover damages for informed consent which means the person did not know the risks of the procedure. A reasonable doctor would know or should have known the risks and failed to warn the person of the risk. Even if a doctor did not do anything wrong per se, the fact that they did not warn the person of the risks means the patient was unable to give an informed consent. When a doctor does not properly inform a person of the risk of a procedure and the person suffers a known risk to the procedure and was never told about it, they can recover in the absence of negligence.

Role of Consent

When a person gives consent they need to first be informed about the risks of the procedure or treatment. The doctor or another medical provider must tell a patient about all of the potential benefits, risks, alternatives for any surgical or medical procedure or another kind of treatment. The doctor should obtain the person’s written consent to proceed with treatment.

It is the job of a jury to determine whether the person was properly informed about the risks of the procedure or treatment and gave their informed consent to the treatment.

In a case of negligence, that could be a factor a jury considers when determining whether the doctor is negligent or the injury is a known risk to the procedure the person consented to. The document is considered but often is not dispositive in determining negligence. A person cannot consent to another person’s negligence. Signed consent does not mean potential clients do not have a case for liability in DC medical malpractice cases.

Who is Liable for Negligence?

A person cannot consent to someone being negligent. If the doctor did not warn the person about a risk in the procedure and there were some complications the person suffered, they have a claim through lack of informed consent.

Medical science is complicated. Doctors and other medical professionals are well trained, well educated, and highly intelligent. Sometimes a person has underlying co-morbidities or medical conditions that can make treating a condition more difficult. However, sometimes the fault does lie with the doctor.

Likelihood of Patient Liability

A patient must give their doctor a complete picture of their symptoms or injuries so the doctor can properly diagnose the patient’s condition. To mitigate their damages, the patient should return to the doctor when they are not feeling better. If someone goes in for surgery and three days later they feel really sick, they need to go back to the doctor. If they wait two weeks before going back to the doctor, the doctor can argue that the person made their condition worse by waiting.

Common Liability Misconceptions

A common misconception about liability in medical malpractice is that when something bad happens, the doctor or other health care provider did something wrong. Too often, in spite of the best efforts of the healthcare professionals, things go badly for the patient. The other major misconception is the fact that doctors are often sued unjustly.

Four out of five cases that actually constitute medical malpractice never result in lawsuits. Only one out of the three cases that result in lawsuits end in a successful recovery for the claimant. In other words, only one out of 15 cases involving medical malpractice result in recoveries for patients. An attorney can help victims establish liability in DC medical malpractice cases.

Defending Patient Negligence

A patient’s negligent behavior is a complicated issue when trying to determine whether that negligent behavior is a bar to recovery. Generally, in a medical malpractice case, a patient sues a health care provider for failing to use the appropriate care when providing medical treatment. As a defense to the medical malpractice charges, the doctor, hospital, and other healthcare professionals sometimes claim that the patient’s own negligence triggered the harm or prevented their recovery.

If a patient comes in to see the doctor about an injury and lies about the cause and nature of the injury. Another example patient liability in DC medical malpractice cases is when a person has foot surgery and is told to stay off the foot for six weeks but disregards that directive and tries to walk on the foot shortly after surgery. The patient’s level of responsibility for their injury is used to determine whether they can recover any damages.