Do I Have a Valid Medical Malpractice Claim?

Being the victim of medical negligence can be an incredibly traumatic experience. When the provider you’ve trusted with your care doesn’t meet their duties, it’s your right to hold them accountable. However, not every negative experience with a medical provider or every complication rises to the level of medical malpractice. Medical malpractice is a complex and nuanced area of law and your case must meet certain requirements to be successful. It’s important to verify that your unique case meets the threshold for medical malpractice before you seek legal representation.

If you or a loved one were the victim of medical malpractice in Dover, Middletown, or greater Delaware, trust the experienced medical malpractice team at Schmittinger & Rodriguez to hold the negligent provider accountable for their wrongdoings so you can see the compensation you’re rightfully owed. We are ready to start fighting for you today.

What Is a Medical Malpractice Claim?

Before understanding the requirements of a medical malpractice case, it’s important to understand what a medical malpractice lawsuit entails and how it may differ from other proceedings stemming from the same act of negligence. 

In rare, egregious cases of medical malpractice, a provider can face consequences on three levels: civil, criminal, and occupational. In rare instances, a medical provider’s conduct can rise to the level of criminal negligence. Whether a case will be brought against the provider in criminal court, however, is up to the exclusive discretion of the local prosecutor’s office. You may be asked to serve as a witness, but this case won’t benefit you directly. It simply holds the negligent provider accountable for breaking the law. Next, your provider may face disciplinary action from the state medical board, where they may have their medical license suspended or revoked. You may also be involved in that case by making a statement or testifying before the state medical board, but the consequences of this disciplinary action do not address the harm you have suffered.

A medical malpractice lawsuit is a civil claim made based on a medical provider’s negligence. A medical malpractice claim can be brought against a doctor, nurse, hospital employee, healthcare institution, or any combination of these entities as long as they each individually contributed to the negligence.

The Four Requirements of a Successful Medical Malpractice Claim

What is within your power and control is a civil lawsuit for medical malpractice, which falls under the umbrella of a negligence lawsuit. To successfully establish medical malpractice, you must show that the provider was negligent. Delaware law specifies four requirements for a positive showing of negligence:

  1. Duty of care. Healthcare providers automatically owe their patients a duty of care, so this element isn’t too hard to satisfy. You must show that there was a professional relationship between yourself and the provider wherein the provider treated you medically. Without establishing a patient-provider relationship, a medical malpractice case cannot proceed. 
  2. A breach of the provider’s professional duty of care. Mistakes and complications happen, but they do not always rise to the level of malpractice. You must have clear evidence of significant negligence on the part of the medical provider. This means that the treatment you received fell below the acceptable standard of medical care. 
  3. Causation. You must show that the provider, by breaching their duty, caused you harm. Again, a mistake or forewarned complication doesn’t rise to the level of true medical malpractice. There must be a clear causal link between the provider’s negligence and the resulting injury or wrongful death. 
  4. Damages. The civil court only has the power to financially address any harm the patient has suffered, but that doesn’t mean that your harm needs to be financial in nature. While harder to quantify, your pain and suffering are considered to be a form of damages. These damages must be substantial for a successful case, corresponding to the severity of the injury or the impact of a wrongful death. 

All four elements of medical malpractice must be met, with strong supporting evidence, to successfully bring a medical malpractice claim. If you believe that your case meets all four criteria, it’s time to seek legal advice.

Your Delaware Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you’ve suffered harm due to a provider’s medical negligence, trust the experienced medical malpractice legal team at Schmittinger & Rodriguez. Proudly serving clients across Delaware, our team is ready to guide you through the medical malpractice case process and fight relentlessly so you see the compensation you’re owed. With 62 years of combined experience and over 45,000 clients served, our team is ready to start advocating for you today. Contact us for a free consultation!

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