Monday, February 17, 2014

Anatomy of a Medical Malpractice Case

A New Jersey medical malpractice claim is one of several specific types of New Jersey personal injury claims. Like all other personal injury claims, it involves physical or mental injury to a person as a result of another's negligence, that is, another's failure to act reasonably under the circumstances. However, there are unique and important aspects to medical malpractice claims that set them apart from other types of personal injury claims.
First of all, unlike an auto accident, for example, we are not dealing with the ordinary negligence of a driver who has run a red light or swerved into oncoming traffic, which anyone can tell you is a bad idea. We are dealing, instead, with the actions of a medical professional, such as a doctor or nurse, whose conduct is governed by specific standards of acceptable care within the medical profession.
In other words, proving that a medical professional has been negligent typically requires a qualified expert in the same area of medicine to say so, after carefully reviewing all the medical records pertaining to a patient's course of treatment, and that is only the first question...
The next question is whether or not the medical professional's negligence actually did the patient harm. After all, patients don't ordinarily seek medical attention in the first place unless there's already something wrong.
In some cases, the harm caused by the medical professional's negligence may be obvious, even to the most untrained eyes, such as operating on the wrong part of a person's body. But in many other instances, the link between the medical professional's conduct and the eventual condition of the patient is complicated by questions of causation, that is, by whether or not some or all of the patient's ailments may have arisen from a pre-existing injury or disease, rather than from the medical negligence.
In such complicated cases, proving the link between the negligence and the harm will also require a qualified expert to say so, and this area of expertise, in some cases, may be so special that a second expert is required, that is, someone with qualifications that are different from those possessed by the medical negligence expert, and it doesn't end there....
The last question concerns the degree of harm caused by the medical negligence. In other words, is it permanent or temporary, substantial or not? In fact, for the attorney and client evaluating the risks and rewards of pursuing a medical malpractice claim, this is really the first question, not the last. Here's why -
In theory, any degree of harm caused by medical negligence is legally entitled to receive some compensation in a court of law, but in practice, the attorney and client must carefully consider whether or not it would be worthwhile to pursue a claim that has insufficient value.
Of course, this is an important question in every personal injury case, but it's especially important in medical malpractice cases because they are, by their very nature, expensive, time-consuming and risky propositions.
For example, if you believe that a doctor may have done you some harm, should you and your attorney spend many months, and many thousands of dollars, trying to prove it, if they recognize that the limited potential reward may not justify the risk?
On the other hand, if you are confident that you have a worthwhile case, perhaps this letter has helped you to appreciate the importance of contacting an experienced New Jersey medical malpractice attorney to counsel you on the correct course of action..

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