Proving Causation in a Medical Malpractice Claim
You deserve justice if you or a loved one has been harmed while receiving medical treatment in New Jersey. Fortunately, New Jersey has specific laws and regulations in place to protect patients who have been victimized by medical malpractice. However, collecting compensation for medical malpractice depends on proving causation. If you or someone you love is the victim of medical negligence, contact our lawyers at O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble, LLC right away.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
In New Jersey, medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider—such as a doctor, nurse, or hospital—deviates from the standard of care, and that substandard care harms a patient. The standard of care is the level of care that a reasonably competent and similarly trained healthcare provider would provide in similar circumstances.
To prove a medical malpractice claim in New Jersey, you must be able to provide evidence of the four elements of negligence.
Doctor and Patient Relationship
The first element of negligence is the duty of care. A duty of care is a legal obligation that requires a healthcare provider to meet a particular standard of care when providing treatment to a patient. To establish that a provider owed you a duty, you must show that you had a doctor-patient relationship with the provider.
Breach of Duty
Next, you must prove the healthcare provider breached their duty of care by failing to provide appropriate care. As the plaintiff, it’s your responsibility to show the medical provider’s actions fell below the accepted standard of care. That’s why it’s important to work with an experienced lawyer who knows how to use legal arguments and evidence to make your case as strong as possible.
Proof of Harm
It’s not enough to demonstrate the medical provider owed you a duty of care or that the provider’s care was not up to standard. You must also show your injuries were caused by the substandard care. Linking your injury to the provider’s breach of duty is called causation. There are cases in which a medical provider breached their duty, but that breach isn’t what caused a patient’s injury. In such a case, the patient won’t be able to prove causation which means they won’t collect compensation from that provider.
The fourth element in a medical malpractice case is damages. You must have quantifiable losses to collect compensation from the at-fault provider. Common examples of damages in a medical negligence lawsuit include medical expenses and time lost from work. Your lawyer will help you compile a list of damages, calculate their value, and determine a possible settlement range.
What Is Causation in Medical Malpractice?
Proving causation can be one of the most challenging aspects of a medical malpractice case. Causation means showing that the healthcare provider’s negligence was a significant factor in causing your injuries. But how to prove causation in medical malpractice? There are several ways a lawyer can help you prove causation in a New Jersey medical malpractice case.
Expert testimony is a common tool malpractice attorneys use to help prove causation. In New Jersey, you must provide an affidavit from a medical expert when filing a malpractice claim. This affidavit must state that the expert has reviewed your case and believes there is a reasonable probability that the care provided fell below the standard of care and that this failure caused your injuries. Your attorney might seek testimony from additional experts as well.
Your medical records can also be an essential tool in proving causation. Healthcare providers are legally required to maintain accurate and complete medical records for each patient. Your attorney can subpoena these records to show how the healthcare provider deviated from the standard of care and how this deviation resulted in harm.
The Substantial Factor Test
The “substantial factor test” determines whether the healthcare provider’s negligence was a significant factor in causing the patient’s injury. Under this test, the patient must show that the healthcare provider’s actions or omissions were a substantial factor in causing their harm, even if other factors may have also contributed to the injury.
Who Can Help Prove Causation in New Jersey Medical Malpractice Cases?
Proving causation in a medical malpractice claim can be complex, and having the right team on your side is essential. Some professionals who can help you build a case for medical negligence include the following.
As mentioned earlier, medical experts can provide valuable testimony about the standard of care in your case and how the healthcare provider’s actions deviated from the accepted standard. An attorney will know how to question experts and how to present their testimony to insurance companies and the court.
An experienced attorney can help you navigate the complex medical malpractice process and build a strong case. Proving causation in a medical malpractice claim is complicated because it requires understanding the law, understanding medicine, and being able to find qualified experts who can help you prove your healthcare provider was negligent.
Hiring an investigator to gather additional evidence to support your claim may be necessary in some cases. For example, an investigator may be able to track down witnesses or uncover other prior records that can help establish causation.
Our Attorneys Can Help You
Causation can make or break your medical malpractice case. However, you don’t have to go through the legal process alone. With the right legal team on your side, you can more effectively fight for the compensation you deserve.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries due to suspected medical negligence in New Jersey, it’s crucial to speak with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. Contact O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble to protect your rights and explore your legal options. Our team has years of experience helping victims of medical malpractice in New Jersey, and we know what it takes to build a successful malpractice case. Schedule a free initial consultation to learn more about how we can help.