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What are the legal elements of a medical malpractice case?

When Louisiana residents see a medical professional, they likely expect to be treated with the utmost care. After all, in many cases people entrust doctors and nurses with their lives. Unfortunately, a certain standard of care is not always met -- and in some cases, this can have major consequences. In the worst case scenarios, these consequences can be fatal. Sometimes, a person may wish to pursue legal action following such incidents. But there are certain criteria that must be met to prove medical malpractice took place.

There are generally four elements that must be shown to prevail in a medical malpractice case. The first of these elements is that the doctor must have a legal duty to administer care to the patient. A doctor does not have always have such legal duty, such as when a doctor happens to be near someone experiencing a health issue outside of their care facility.

Next, there is the standard of care of the medical profession. For a medical malpractice case to be valid, a doctor must fail to meet these standards. In general, this involves the doctor meeting a certain level of care that a reasonable person would be expected to give. Many complications can arise when determining the standard of care.

There must also the breach of this standard of care must be the cause of the victim's injuries. Following causation, there must be damages. Damages can include anything from physical suffering to mental anguish. They are assigned a monetary value that is useful in determining compensation.

Obtaining compensation in medical malpractice cases is not always simple. Oftentimes, it requires an experienced attorney to understand the legal complexities. Attorneys are available to meet with victims and help determine whether it is appropriate to pursue a lawsuit.

Source: ncbi.gov, "An Introduction to Medical Malpractice in the United States," B. Sonny Bal, Nov. 26, 2008

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