What Evidence Is Important In a Florida Medical Malpractice Case?

When medical professionals fail to provide the standard of care expected in their field, patients may suffer serious injuries or complications. In such cases, injured patients have the right to seek compensation for their damages.

This type of claim is called a medical malpractice claim. However, proving medical malpractice requires thorough documentation and evidence

Understanding the key elements of a medical malpractice claim, the burden of proof required, and the types of evidence essential to building a strong case in Florida is crucial. If you’ve been harmed by medical negligence, understanding the importance of evidence is the first step toward obtaining justice.

What Is Negligence?

What Is Negligence?

In order to understand medical malpractice, it is helpful to understand negligence. Medical malpractice is a specialized kind of negligence claim. Negligence claims arise when individuals are harmed by others’ failure to fulfill their duty of care. 

In order to bring a negligence claim, a plaintiff has the burden of proving four elements:

  • Duty of Care: Most people owe a duty of care to act as a reasonable person would under the circumstances. Certain professionals, such as doctors, are held to a higher standard of care due to their specialized training.
  • Breach of Duty: When people fail to meet the standard of care expected of them, it constitutes a breach of duty. For a doctor, a breach of duty might look like failure to follow surgical protocols or a reckless act, like leaving surgical tools inside of a patient.
  • Causation: The breach must be both the actual and proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. If the patient was injured and the doctor took all due caution, there may not be a causal link.
  • Damages: Finally, a plaintiff must be able to show that there were physical, emotional, or financial injuries due to the defendant’s breach of duty.

A plaintiff must show that all four elements of a negligence claim are met. If they do not offer sufficient proof on each element, their otherwise valid claim may be dismissed for “failure to state a claim.”

Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim

Malpractice claims, in particular, arise when professionals do not follow the standard of care set by their profession, resulting in harm to clients or patients. A medical malpractice claim is one that arises in a healthcare context. 

It is important to note that the term “health care providers” encompasses a wide range of professions, including physicians, osteopathic physicians, and podiatrists.

To establish a medical malpractice claim in Florida, a plaintiff must prove the following elements:

  • A medical professional-patient relationship existed;
  • You received care that was below the expected standard of care;
  • You suffered an injury; and
  • The care you received caused your injury.

In order to preserve your right to compensation, you must meet the burden of proof for all four elements. 

Medical Professional-Patient Relationship

First, a plaintiff must show that a medical professional-patient relationship existed. If they prescribed treatments, provided advice, or performed operations, they may have established a medical professional-patient relationship. Once a medical professional-patient relationship is established, they may owe you a duty of care. 

Received Care Below the Expected Standard of Care

Second, a plaintiff must show that he or she received care that was below the expected standard of care. This standard of care is set by both industry standards and regulating bodies within the profession. For instance, the Florida Department of Public Health has issued guidance on the standard of care for office surgery. If they deviated from or failed to meet the standard of care, your experience meets the second element of a medical malpractice claim.

You Suffered an Injury

Third, you must show that you suffered an injury. This can be a physical injury, as in a surgery gone wrong. The injury can also be an infection, as in the case of doctors who failed to diagnose or treat COVID-19

These are some of the common injuries or harms raised in medical malpractice claims:

There may be additional types of medical malpractice claims not named on this list.

Received Care Caused the Patient Injury

Finally, the plaintiff must show that the care received caused the injury. For example, if a doctor failed to follow standard hygiene protocol and caused an infection during an operation, the patient received care that caused the injury.

What Is the Burden of Proof?

In medical malpractice cases, the burden of proof rests with the plaintiff, meaning they must provide sufficient evidence to establish the elements of their claim. The standard of proof required is known as “preponderance of the evidence,” meaning it is more likely than not that the defendant’s negligence caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

In order to bring a medical malpractice claim, a plaintiff will need evidence to show that the elements of a medical malpractice claim have been met. Plaintiffs often also need to offer evidence to demonstrate the harms and impacts of the malpractice. These are a few different types of evidence that are typically offered to support a plaintiff’s medical malpractice claim.

Medical Records

One of the most critical pieces of evidence in a medical malpractice case is the patient’s medical records. These records document the patient’s medical history, treatments received, medications prescribed, and any adverse outcomes. They also document the severity of the injuries caused by the defendant. Medical records provide a timeline of events and serve as a foundation for proving negligence and causation.

Expert Witness Testimony

Expert witnesses play a crucial role in medical malpractice cases by providing professional opinions on the standard of care, the duty owed, and the causal relationship. Expert witnesses may include medical professionals in the same specialty as the defendant, who can offer insights into accepted medical practices and protocols. 

Testimony of Family Members

Loved ones who witnessed the patient’s treatment or suffered harm due to the medical negligence may also provide valuable testimony in support of the claim. Their accounts can corroborate the patient’s experiences and help establish the extent of the damages suffered..

Consult a Boca Raton Medical Malpractice Attorney

Navigating the complexities of a medical malpractice case requires the expertise of a skilled attorney who specializes in this area of law. If you or a loved one has been harmed by medical negligence, don’t hesitate to reach out to Hollander Law Firm Accident Injury Lawyers. With over 28 years of experience serving injury victims in Boca Raton, FL, our team has recovered tens of millions of dollars on behalf of our clients. Contact us today at (561) 347-7770 for a free consultation with a Boca Raton medical malpractice attorney.