Understanding the Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim in Delaware

What Happens When The Doctor Injures You?

It’s only natural to believe that when you go to seek additional medical treatment your doctor will give the best care possible. Sadly, that’s not always the case. Things happen. Things go wrong. And when they do, you may be injured. If this happens, you may have a medical malpractice suit against the doctor and other healthcare professionals involved in your care. While you may be reticent to file such a claim, you cannot predict the long-term impact and costs that arise out of malpractice.

There are several factors to consider if you have suffered from medical negligence including:

  • The elements of medical malpractice cases
  • The professional duty you are owed
  • The nature of reasonable medical care owed
  • The monetary compensation you may need
  • The legal action you can take

You may not be in a position to evaluate these factors. That’s why a free legal consultation will assist you in making the best decision based on the facts and circumstances of your case. A no-obligation case evaluation with a medical malpractice lawyer will reveal the same or similar circumstances and whether a medical malpractice lawsuit is the best course of action.

The Elements Of Medical Malpractice

In Delaware, the elements of medical malpractice are generally the same as in other jurisdictions in the United States. The elements are rooted in the legal concept of negligence. While the cases may be more complex, to establish a medical malpractice claim in Delaware you must still prove the basic four elements of medical malpractice:

  1. Duty: The doctor or other healthcare provider had a duty to you to provide a certain standard of care.
  2. Breach: The doctor or other healthcare provider breached the duty of care by failing to meet the required standard of care. This breach may be due to an act of omission (failing to do something that should have been done) or an act of commission (doing something that should not have been done).
  3. Causation: The breach of duty was the cause of the plaintiff’s injury. This means that you must prove that your injury would not have occurred if they had not breached the duty of care.
  4. Damages: You show you suffered damages as a result of the breach of duty. These damages may be physical, emotional, or financial in nature.

It’s important to note that Delaware has certain procedural requirements that must be followed when filing a medical malpractice claim, such as obtaining a written opinion from a qualified medical expert before filing suit. Additionally, there is a statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims in Delaware, which generally requires the claim to be filed within two years from the date of injury or discovery of the injury, whichever is earlier.

Medical malpractice is a type of personal injury law that involves the negligence of medical professionals or healthcare providers. In Delaware, medical malpractice claims are subject to specific laws and regulations that govern the legal process. Understanding the elements of a medical malpractice claim is crucial for anyone considering filing a lawsuit in Delaware.

1. The duty of care

The first element of a medical malpractice claim is establishing that the healthcare provider had a legal duty to provide a reasonable standard of care to the patient. This duty arises from the doctor-patient relationship, which is established when the healthcare provider agrees to treat the patient. This duty includes providing competent medical care and advising the patient of the risks associated with a particular course of treatment.

2. Understanding breach of duty

The second element of a medical malpractice claim is establishing that the doctor or healthcare professional breached their duty of care. This can be challenging, as medical malpractice cases often involve complex medical issues. You must demonstrate that the healthcare provider’s actions or inactions directly caused the patient harm.

This can occur in various ways, including:

  • Failure to diagnose or missed diagnosis of a medical condition
  • Improper treatment or wrong medication
  • Surgical mistakes or medical errors during medical procedures
  • Failure to obtain informed consent before a medical procedure

To establish a breach of duty, you must demonstrate that the healthcare provider failed to meet the appropriate standard of care under the circumstances. This standard of care is established by expert testimony, which is necessary to show that the healthcare provider acted negligently. In medical malpractice litigation having one doctor testify that another doctor acting improperly may seem like a stressful place to find yourself but it should not concern you. If you were not provided reasonable care, it will take another qualified medical practitioner to say your doctor failed to meet the duty of care.

3. What is causation?

Causation is another of the medical malpractice elements. In simple terms, causation refers to the link between the doctor’s actions and the patient’s injury or harm. To prove medical malpractice, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the doctor’s medical negligence caused the harm, rather than another factor.

In medical malpractice cases, causation can be challenging to prove, as the patient may have had an underlying condition that contributed to their injury or harm. To establish causation in a medical malpractice case, your lawyer must show that the doctor’s actions were the direct cause of the harm suffered by the patient. This requires the use of medical expert testimony to establish a link between the doctor’s actions and the harm suffered by the patient.

In Delaware, the plaintiff must establish causation by a preponderance of the evidence. This means that it’s more likely than not that the doctor’s negligence caused the harm. This standard of proof requires the plaintiff’s lawyer to present strong evidence that links the doctor’s actions to the harm suffered by the patient. Without a strong link, the plaintiff may struggle to prove causation and, therefore, medical malpractice.

4. Damages in medical malpractice lawsuits

The fourth and final element of medical malpractice law is establishing that you, the patient, suffered damages as a result of the healthcare provider’s breach of duty. Damages can include physical injuries, emotional harm, lost wages, medical bills, and additional medical treatment. The plaintiff must prove the damages they suffered were a direct result of the healthcare provider’s breach of duty.

How Long Do You Have To File Medical Malpractice Cases?

In Delaware, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is two years from the date the injury occurred or the date the patient discovered the injury. Additionally, Delaware follows the doctrine of joint and several liability, which means that multiple defendants can be held liable for the same injury.

This two-year period can pass quickly. The sooner you consult with an attorney the sooner you can determine what your legal options may be for the injury caused by professional negligence.

Finding The Right Lawyer

While the general principles of negligence and personal injury cases apply to medical malpractice cases, the fact remains you want an attorney with experience handling medical negligence claims to spearhead your action. Such an attorney knows how to deal with the doctor’s insurance company; can be sure you have the four elements of medical malpractice case; identify and differentiate the physical versus emotional harm done; can obtain medical records; and will provide a free case evaluation to help you determine how to recover compensation.

At Schmittinger & Rodriquez we have decades of experience with medical malpractice litigation. We offer a free consultation and can explain what professional duty owed to you was breached and how your medical professional can be held liable. If you or a loved one has suffered harm as a result of the actions of a medical professional, call us today.

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