Medical malpractice litigation is an indispensable avenue of recovery for those who are harmed by a negligent physician. One thing that needs to be kept in mind, though, is that not every instance where a patient is harmed in the course of medical care will translate into a viable medical malpractice case.
First of all, a patient needs to have a meritorious case, meaning that he or she can present enough evidence that a physician breached an established standard of care and that this caused harm to the patient. Causation is not always easy to prove in medical malpractice cases, and putting together solid evidence requires time, effort, and zealous advocacy.
In addition, successful medical malpractice litigation will always include a strong case for damages. Even when a case has strong merits, filing a lawsuit for medical malpractice should not be a given until a cost benefit analysis is done with respect to the potential damages award. Cases where the damages award is not likely to be significant may not be worth the time and effort necessary to bring the case to court.
None of this, to be sure, is to discourage readers who have been harmed by a negligent physician from considering medical malpractice litigation, but only to say that all the pieces need to fall into place before a case can be considered truly viable and worth pursuing.
In cases where an otherwise meritorious claim is determined to be not worth pursuing, it is still worth exploring other potential avenues of recovery or justice. One important avenue is physician discipline, which we’ll speak a bit about in our next post.