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How is Liability Generally Caused in a Medical Malpractice Claim?

Boston Attorney Helping Victims of Negligence by Healthcare Professionals

We trust our medical providers to help us deal with whatever ailments or conditions we are experiencing. Although many doctors render appropriate and timely medical care, there are some who fail to treat patients according to the standards that Massachusetts law requires. When this occurs and injury or loss of a loved one occurs, the victim or their family can bring a medical malpractice claim to recover compensation for his or her injuries and damages. Because medical conditions are often complex, establishing liability in a medical malpractice claim can be incredibly difficult in some instances. This is why seeking counsel and advice from an experienced Boston medical malpractice lawyer can make all the difference in ensuring that you pursue the outcome that you deserve. Whether you are simply interested in more information about the legal process or wish to proceed with filing a claim, the legal team at The Law Offices of Barry Feinstein and Affiliates P.C. is prepared to discuss your case with you, and explain how liability is generally caused in a medical malpractice claim.

Establishing Liability in a Medical Malpractice Claim

Like many states, Massachusetts has implemented specific laws governing medical malpractice claims and how an injured party must go about establishing his or her right to compensation. First, whenever a plaintiff files a medical malpractice claim in the state, the plaintiff must provide an offer of proof within 15 days of the defendant’s response. This requires seeking consultation from a superior court judge, a licensed physician in the same specialty or filed, and a licensed attorney. The three-person tribunal must determine whether there is enough evidence to raise a legitimate question regarding whether the defendant rendered substandard care to the plaintiff. The tribunal can consider medical records, notes, test results, and information from qualified medical experts. If the tribunal concludes that there is not substantial evidence suggesting that the defendant is liable, the plaintiff must file a $6,000 bond in order to proceed with the lawsuit. The plaintiff only has 30 days to post this bond or the lawsuit will be dismissed.

If the lawsuit proceeds, the plaintiff has the burden of proving certain elements in order to receive compensation. First, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed him or her a duty of care. This can usually be established by showing that there was a doctor-patient relationship. Next, the plaintiff must show that the defendant failed to treat him or her according to Massachusetts’ medical standard of care. This is defined as providing the same treatment that a doctor with the same specialty and in the same location would provide when treating a patient with a similar medical history and presenting conditions. Based on this standard, medical malpractice claims often require consultation and testimony from expert witnesses who practice in the same field. These experts will help the jury understand how the defendant’s medical treatment fell below the acceptable standard of care and how the failure caused the plaintiff’s injuries to occur, whether they consist of brain injuries, nerve damage, paralysis, or other conditions.

Some common examples of how liability is generally caused in a medical malpractice claim include when doctors fail to make a timely diagnosis, prescribe the wrong medication, make the wrong diagnosis, don’t order the right series of tests, or make careless mistakes in surgery like operating on the wrong limb or leaving surgical equipment inside the body cavity. Comparing what a reasonable and prudent surgeon or medical professional would have done when faced with the same situation and what the defendant actually did is one of the most common ways that plaintiffs go about establishing liability in a medical malpractice claim. For example, showing that most doctors with a similar background and training would have ordered a specific series of tests for a patient and then showing that the defendant failed to order these tests would suggest that his or her care fell below the required standard.

Obtaining Compensation

After proving that the defendant failed to render appropriate care, the plaintiff must next show that this failure was the direct and foreseeable cause of his or her injuries. Some of the most complex cases involve pre-existing health conditions. This is unsurprising because many individuals seek medical treatment for ongoing health issues. When complex medical conditions are involved, however, showing that the doctor’s negligence was the direct cause of your damages can be complicated. So, even if you establish negligence, you may be barred from recovering compensation unless you can show a direct causal link between the negligent conduct and the injuries that you have claimed.

The final phase of the lawsuit involves calculating the damages that you sustained and how much compensation you are owed. Massachusetts has enacted statutory caps on certain types of damages, which means that there are limits to how much compensation you can receive for certain types of damages like pain and suffering. It is important to retain any and all documents or receipts that show the expenses you have or will incur as a result of the injuries that you sustained to ensure that you receive as much compensation as you are owed.

Consult a Knowledgeable Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Boston

Medical malpractice injuries can be devastating and life-altering, or even fatal in the worst-case scenarios. At The Law Offices of Barry Feinstein & Affiliates P.C., our team knows just how traumatic this situation is for you and your loved ones, and we have a detailed understanding of how liability is generally caused in medical malpractice claims in Boston and throughout Massachusetts. We are available to handle legal matters from the earliest stages all the way through trial for residents located in areas around Cambridge, Waltham, Newton, Lowell, Dedham, Quincy, Somerville, Norwood, Brookline, and Peabody. To schedule your free consultation, call us at  (800) 262-9200 or contact us online to learn more about pursuing a claim with a skilled medical negligence attorney.

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