Please keep in mind, there are many different types of medical malpractice claims out there; but, generally speaking, a claimant (person who files a medical malpractice lawsuit) must usually show the following items to win:
- 1. The health care provider owed a duty to the patient (duty of reasonable medical care);
- 2. The health care provider breached that duty (fell below the reasonable standard of medical care);
- 3. The patient suffered an injury, (actual damages as a result of the breach), and
- 4. The patient's injury was a proximate cause (legal cause) of the health care provider's breach to the patient - this just means "but for" the breach happening, the claimant would have otherwise been without injury.
A medical physician owes a duty of reasonable medical care (medical care that any patient would readily find in the community) to a patient once a "doctor-patient" relationship has been formed (this forms when the patient and doctor enter into an examination, or when the physician agrees to care for the patient, as examples). Nonetheless, even if it is established that a duty existed and the health care provider breached that duty (eg. failed to meet the requisite standard of care), a claimant may not recover unless the claimant suffered injuries that were a direct result of the breach. This is a three part punch. If the breach (duty owed) resulted in no harm to the patient, a claimant generally has no right to a legal recovery to anything. Also, keep in mind, special time frames to file a lawsuit apply in any medical malpractice legal action - you should consult an experienced California medical malpractice lawyer!!