When a patient is injured by a careless physician, a lot of questions arise. What caused the injury? Who is at fault? Will my physician take responsibility or be punished in some way? How do I hold liable parties accountable? How do I pay for this? How much recovery money will I be awarded? These are important questions, but not necessarily questions that can be immediately answered for a patient.
Certain things have to be investigated before confident answers can be given to these questions. When it comes to evaluating a potential medical malpractice claim, it must be determined whether there is sufficient evidence to build a meritorious claim. Is there evidence that the physician who harmed the patient violated an established duty of care and that this caused damages to the patient? Another important question is the extent of the damages and the likely payout if litigation were to be pursued.
So, there is first of all the issue of liability and putting forward a meritorious claim, and then there is the issue of damages. It is important for a patient to have a practical understanding of medical malpractice litigation. In some cases, a patient may have a meritorious medical malpractice claim, but have a weak damages case that makes the case not worth pursuing. Or, perhaps the case would be sympathetic to a jury but the plaintiff would have major issues establishing the proper standard of care or causation. In either case, it needs to be determined whether the costs and effort involved in pursuing medical malpractice litigation is worth the potential payoff.
In cases where medical malpractice is not a viable option for an injured patient, it may still be possible to pursue other avenues for recovery, or at least some measure of justice. In our next post, we’ll look at the issue of physician discipline and what injured patients can do in this area to hold a careless physician accountable.