What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?

November 5, 2020
standard of care in medical settings

Whenever you visit a healthcare provider in a clinical setting, it’s reasonable to assume you’ll receive quality care. At the end of the day, though, doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals can—and do—make medical errors.

Just because a particular treatment or procedure didn’t go as planned, however, doesn’t mean you automatically have grounds for a malpractice claim.  If the complications you suffered were preventable, though, taking legal action may be worth your while. Generally speaking, medical malpractice is characterized by four essential elements, which you can read about below:

1. Standard of Care

The standard of care is what a reasonable physician would do under the same or similar circumstances and must be established as a threshold matter by the Plaintiff in any action.  Also, in order for malpractice to have occurred, there must have existed a doctor/patient relationship. If you sought advice from a friend who happens to be a physician, you may not be able to take action against him or her if the information he or she shared turned out to be inaccurate. You most likely need to have seen the negligent provider in a clinical setting to proceed with a claim.

2. A Breach of the Standard of Care  

While evaluating or treating you, the provider must have deviated from the accepted standard of care. In other words, he or she must have acted differently than a reasonable practitioner under the same or similar circumstances would have acted.

A resourceful medical malpractice attorney can help you determine the best way to prove that a breach of the standard of care (also called medical malpractice) occurred. South Carolina law requires a pre-suit affidavit and deposition from an expert provider who competent to testify as to a medical error by the defendant.

3. Causation

The doctor’s breach of the standard of care must have been directly and proximately responsible for the injuries that you suffered. Depending on the circumstances, proving causation can pose a challenge, but an experienced lawyer should have access to a medical network of potential experts that includes various specialists who can help.

In addition to expert testimony, evidence that demonstrates a link between the substandard care you received and the complications you suffered might include medical records, diagnostic images, relevant studies, photographs of any visible wounds, and the surgical tools or devices that the medical team used to treat you.

4. Damages

You must have incurred actual damages as a direct result of the malpractice that occurred. In South Carolina, recoverable damages include:

  • Medical bills;
  • Lost wages;
  • Loss of future earnings and benefits;
  • Reasonably necessary replacement services;
  • Home care;
  • Domestic help;
  • Home and vehicle modifications;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Anxiety;
  • Depression;
  • Mental anguish; and
  • Loss of enjoyment in life.

In some medical malpractice cases non-economic damages are capped at approximately $450,000 (amount increases annually by statute) per defendant and an overall total cap for all defendants.

Call 864-585-3873 for a Free Consultation with a Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you or someone you love received substandard care in a clinical setting, contact Hodge & Langley Law Firm to determine the most strategic way to proceed. Our attorneys have more than 50 years of combined experience in the legal field. Call 864-585-3873 or use our Online Contact Form to set up a free consultation with a medical malpractice lawyer in South Carolina.

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