There are some things in life which we cannot control, over which we have no power. We do our best to protect ourselves and our loved ones, but getting ill is part of life and we must deal with it. But what happens when the person you rely on for treatment does you harm instead of saving you? Medical negligence is a dark side of our society, but it exists nonetheless and we must learn how to deal with it in case we might have to. In what follows we are going to see what are negligence cases and how the law deals with them.Negligence Cases picture
Negligence is defined as the failure to offer care at expected standards, or to involuntarily harm while in the process of treating. Thus, negligence cases are about harm caused by carelessness, and they should not be confused with cases where there was intentional harm. Doctors and physicians take an oath to protect everyone and to harm nobody, and it is called the Hippocratic oath. In circumstances where the patient has been harmed by his physician, they have the right to bring them to court, through a civil litigation, and try to prove that the person who was supposed to take care of them actually acted carelessly and harmed them.
When negligence cases are proven, the court has to make an assessment of the damages produced – physical, mental or both – and demand compensation for the patient. The damages inflicted on the patient can also be of financial nature, of body or property, of the mind’s well-being, or of intimate relationships. Yet how you quantify these things and what compensation you ask for them is another matter entirely, which is where things get complicated.
Negligence cases are part of what is known as tort law, and it is important to know that they are not treated as other common law cases; they are analyzed in stages called elements, and they take place much like the analyses of crimes. Things get even more complicated when you find out that the plaintiff supporting your claim has to be able to prove all the elements of your case. If a medical negligence case has four elements, then the plaintiff must be able to prove them all without a doubt. If just one of the elements was not proven, then the claim is not won, it is considered incomplete.
The elements of a negligence case will differ of course from case to case, but four of them are standard, and must be proved without a doubt: duty, breach, causation and damage. First, the plaintiff must illustrate the duty of care the physician has, then show how that duty was breached. The causation element is supposed to show how certain steps in the physician’s methods lead to the damage, which is the final element where the actual damage is analyzed and quantified. These are just general terms of negligence law, but they may not apply to every case; for more reliable information, if you think you have a negligence case, hire a professional lawyer specialized in such matters.