Medical Malpractice

Liability in Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

After suffering from medical malpractice, talk with a lawyer about how you can hold the negligent medical providers responsible. Becoming a victim of medical negligence is infuriating, and at times, heartbreaking. You trusted a health care professional and facility to make you better, not worse. You have every right to hold a medical professional or institution responsible for their carelessness. But first, you should work with a medical malpractice attorney to make sure you have the best chance of success. Contact Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. at (312) 236-2900 or through our online form. We offer free, no-risk consultations.

Who Is Liable for Medical Negligence?

If you were injured because of negligent medical care, talk with a lawyer about investigating what happened and why. A specific health care professional might be at fault, such as a surgeon, general practitioner, anesthesiologist, pharmacist, nurse, or dentist. If you can establish that a medical professional violated the standard of care and caused you harm, then you can seek compensation.

In some cases, the medical professional’s employer also is to blame. The hospital, clinic, or other medical institution might have been negligent itself. Or, it might be vicariously liable for the negligent conduct of its employee.

The Medical Standard of Care

To prove a doctor or other health care professional is liable, you have to show they violated the standard of care. Illinois has a standard of care for professionals, which includes medical personnel. Every doctor must have and use the knowledge, skill, and care ordinarily used by a reasonably careful doctor in their field. This standard compares doctors who handle the same area of medicine. It compares general practitioners to other G.P.s, cardiologists to cardiologists, and so on.

The Medical Institution Standard of Care

Medical institutions are held to their own standard of care. In Illinois, a medical facility can be negligent if it fails to do something a reasonably careful institution would do, or it does something a reasonably careful institution wouldn’t. This could apply to staffing, cleaning, established protocols and best practices, recordkeeping, communications, and anything else the facility is responsible for and could impact patient care.

A Hospital’s Vicarious Liability

When you are hurt by a doctor or other medical professional, your lawyer will investigate their employer. Many doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and other health care professionals are employees of a hospital or other facility. In this case, Illinois law might allow you to hold the employer liable for the employee’s negligence.

Vicarious liability is the legal doctrine through which employers can be held liable for their employee’s negligence. It’s also known as respondeat superior. This doctrine requires that the employee’s conduct be within the scope of the employer-employee relationship, though. An employer isn’t responsible for what an employee does off the clock.

Sometimes doctors are hired by hospitals as independent contractors. In which case, it’s harder to hold the facility vicariously liable. The general rule is that businesses aren’t responsible for the conduct of independent contractors. But the exception to this rule is if the business retrains control over any part of the contractor’s work.

What if the Hospital Is a Public Entity?

Some hospitals are private corporations, and others are public. It’s important to talk with an attorney if you were injured in a hospital owned and operated by the state. The claims process will differ compared to a lawsuit against a private institution. You have to file the lawsuit in the Court of Claims, and you might have a shorter statute of limitations. In this type of situation, you might have to sue the state in one court while simultaneously suing the negligent doctor in another court.

You Have to Prove Liability

When you file a medical malpractice lawsuit, it’s your responsibility to prove the doctor, hospital, or other defendants are liable for your injuries. You must establish you were a patient of that medical professional. Then, you must provide the jury with evidence that the professional didn’t uphold their standard of care. Finally, you’ll have to show the jury that the doctor’s breach of their duty caused your injuries.

Proving a doctor or hospital’s negligence requires using expert testimony. The jury has to decide whether the medical professional or institution didn’t act like a reasonably careful professional or institution would. You can use an expert in the field to establish what would have been reasonable conduct and demonstrate how the doctor or facility’s actions differed.

The Burden of Proof in Medical Malpractice Cases

Medical malpractice claims are civil lawsuits. The burden of proof you have to meet is by a preponderance of the evidence. This is a lower standard than in criminal cases, which a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. The standard of proving medical negligence by a preponderance of the evidence means you have to show a jury that it’s more likely than not that the doctor or hospital was at fault.

Using Res Ipsa Loquitur to Prove Malpractice

Res ipsa loquitur is a Latin term that means the thing speaks for itself. It’s the name for the legal doctrine of implied negligence. Sometimes, in medical negligence cases, it’s difficult to prove malpractice with direct evidence. Instead, you can use circumstantial evidence and ask the jury to infer that the doctor or other medical professional’s conduct was negligent.

Under the theory of implied negligence, you have to prove that the harm you suffered wouldn’t normally happen without someone being negligent, and you were under the doctor or facility’s care at the time the injury happened. It’s critical that you show the jury that there’s no other plausible explanation for your condition other than a medical professional’s carelessness. You also have to establish that you didn’t contribute to your own injury.

Were You Injured by Medical Malpractice?

If you or a loved one were hurt because of a negligent medical provider, call Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. right away. We have years of experience investigating medical negligence and uncovering evidence of fault. We’ll help you prove who is liable for your injuries and demand compensation. Reach out to us through our online form or call (312) 236-2900 to set up a free initial consultation.

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(312) 236-2900
(312) 236-2900