The Basic Requirements of an Alabama Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Your doctor made a mistake that caused you or a loved one serious harm or aggravated a prior condition. When this happens, most patients assume they automatically have a winning medical malpractice lawsuit. Unfortunately, this isn’t always true. Alabama’s medical malpractice laws are generally regarded as friendly towards doctors and medical facilities. Winning a case, and therefore the compensation you need to recover, takes skilled legal representation. You can count on the medical malpractice attorneys at Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton.
Understanding malpractice rules
There’s a common misconception that any time a doctor, hospital, or related party makes a mistake, it qualifies as malpractice. However, the law recognizes that medical professionals are human beings who are generally trying to help patients. Therefore, doctors and others are not obligated to be perfect in practicing medicine. Something more than just an error is required to rise to the level of malpractice.
Medical malpractice occurs when a health care professional, by some negligent act or omission, causes injury to a patient. It occurs when an individual or facility fails to exercise the necessary skill that other professionals are expected to exercise. The relevant Alabama statute describes malpractice as when a doctor, hospital, or other medical party:
“[Fails] to exercise such reasonable care, skill, and diligence as other similarly situated health care providers in the same general line of practice ordinarily have and exercise in a like case.”
In other words, these cases are very fact-specific. The law will consider the nature of the procedure as well as the doctor’s education, training, and experience. It will then examine how a similarly situated professional would ordinarily be expected to act. The mistake made will be evaluated in light of these and related factors.
The elements of a successful medical malpractice lawsuit
The Alabama Medical Liability Act (AMLA) governs medical malpractice cases in the state. Under the AMLA, an injured patient must prove the following to win a medical malpractice lawsuit:
Standard of care. By way of the doctor-patient relationship, medical professionals generally owe their patients a certain standard of care. They have a duty to follow this standard in all treatments and related health care activities.
Breach. A breach occurs when there is a negligent act or omission. By this negligence, the doctor is said to have deviated from the applicable standard of care.
Causation. The breach of the standard of care must be the proximate cause of injury to the patient. This means establishing a causal link between the doctor’s actions and the injury or condition suffered by the patient. A naturally worsening disease, unconnected to poor medical treatment, would likely not meet this standard.
Damages. The patient must identify the damages he or she suffered as a result. These could include medical bills, pain and suffering, and more.
Expert medical testimony, developed in court by an experienced malpractice attorney, is generally required. This kind of testimony is technical and complex in nature. It differs from that of lay witnesses who testify as to what they observe. Our law firm has a network of trusted expert witnesses who can help build a successful case.
Let Our Dedicated Team Guide Your And Your Family
It is important to note that injured patients do not have an unlimited amount of time to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit. Generally, the patient has two years from the date of injury to bring a claim. This deadline, known as the statute of limitations, can be extended in certain cases where the injury was hidden. But if you know of the injury, it is best to not delay seeking legal counsel. If you or a family member have been harmed because of medical malpractice, reach out to Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton. Call us today to start your medical malpractice lawsuit.