Is Medical Malpractice Difficult to Prove?

Published

Every day, thousands of people in Rhode Island rely on doctors to provide them with medical treatment. However, medical professionals sometimes make poor decisions and their patients suffer serious or even life-threatening injuries as a result. When a doctor injures a patient, it may seem that the patient should be able to easily recover damages for the losses suffered. 

Unfortunately, medical malpractice lawsuits are one of the most complex areas of personal injury law. You may have heard reports of medical malpractice victims being awarded millions of dollars after a successful lawsuit. Nevertheless, the reality is that medical malpractice lawsuits are difficult for patients to win, and juries often rule in favor of the doctors or hospitals. 

Challenges of Establishing a Medical Malpractice Claim

If a medical malpractice claim is successful, injured patients can recover compensation for medical expenses and other damages without even going to court. However, when these types of cases go to trial, patients may or may not be awarded the compensation they deserve. The following are some of the factors that make proving medical malpractice complex. 

Understanding evidence

Most of us have had the experience of trying to read and understand our doctor’s handwriting or decipher information on a medical report. Medical reports and doctor’s notes are often complex and almost impossible for anyone to understand without a background in medicine. 

Yet, medical records are key evidence when presenting a medical malpractice claim. If a person is unable to understand his or her own medical records, imagine how challenging it is for the average citizen on a jury to understand them.

In addition, listening to medical experts drone on discussing topics we don’t understand can be very boring. Juries may have difficulty focusing on the evidence and allow their minds to wander while medical evidence is being presented. This could result in them possibly missing key points of evidence that would have made them side with the plaintiff. 

Finding expert witnesses

Expert witnesses play an essential role in medical malpractice cases. A medical expert will be called to present evidence to the judge and jury, explaining what the doctor, nurse, or other medical professional did wrong. Most medical experts need to be someone who is currently practicing medicine or someone who has recently retired from being a doctor. 

The challenge can be finding a medical professional who is willing to testify against a fellow doctor. Many doctors in Rhode Island would rather support their colleagues than take a stand against them in a court of law. 

While finding expert witnesses can be challenging, a law firm that has successfully handled many medical malpractice cases like Marasco & Nesselbush will know who to call when a medical expert is needed. 

The expense

Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means that the law firm covers the upfront costs of the case and the lawyer takes a percentage of the awarded compensation at the end. The challenge with medical malpractice cases, though, is that they typically cost more than other types of personal injury lawsuits. 

Typically, the greatest expense in a medical malpractice lawsuit is hiring a medical expert. An expert’s testimony is often imperative to winning medical malpractice cases but may cost tens of thousands of dollars. A less-established law firm may not be able to cover these expenses and won’t have access to the resources necessary to build a solid case for a client – but not Marasco & Nesselbush. We have all you need to build as strong a case as possible.

Juries often side with doctors

The Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research conducted a study that examined two decades of medical malpractice cases. They found that in lawsuits where strong medical evidence was presented that the physician was negligent, juries still sided with doctors in 50 percent of those cases. This shocking figure means that negligent doctors win half of the cases that they should probably lose. 

This doesn’t mean that it is impossible to win a medical malpractice lawsuit, but it shows that evidence must be clearly laid out, proving how the doctor’s actions harmed the plaintiff. If the physician’s mistake is not obvious to the jury, then they may give the doctor the benefit of the doubt. 

Connecting a patient’s injuries to the doctor’s negligence

A clear link must be made between the doctor’s actions and the patient’s medical injuries. This is imperative to a successful medical malpractice lawsuit and can be extremely difficult to establish since the defense will most likely argue that many different factors could have contributed to the patient’s condition. 

For example, a patient goes to a doctor for shortness of breath. The doctor diagnoses the person with asthma and prescribes an inhaler. When the prescribed medication doesn’t help, the patient goes to a different doctor some time later and is diagnosed with lung cancer. 

The patient could file a lawsuit claiming that the cancer would have been easier to treat if it had been diagnosed right away. On the other hand, the doctor may argue that cancer is unpredictable and it is impossible to know how the first diagnosis would have affected the patient’s outcome. 

A skilled medical malpractice lawyer will know how to connect a client’s injuries directly to the doctor’s actions.

Where to Find Help For Your Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

If you have been injured due to the negligence of a medical professional, don’t just conclude that you have to live with your condition without holding the responsible parties liable. The key to a successful medical malpractice lawsuit is having an experienced and skilled lawyer on your side who you can trust. 

At Marasco & Nesselbush, our lawyers have extensive experience in handling medical malpractice cases – not to mention the resources you need. If you’d like to learn how our law firm can help you, schedule a free consultation with us.