Elements of Medical Malpractice: 1. Breach, 2. Causation, and 3. Damages
The terms "medical malpractice" and "surgical malpractice" refer to mistakes, carelessness, errors or omissions that amount to "professional negligence" on the part of doctors, surgeons or other health care professionals.
In every medical malpractice case, it must be proved that that the care provided by a doctor, surgeon or other health care provider fell below the accepted standard of care within their field of practice (Breach of the Accepted Standard of Care) and, as a result (Causation),the patient is caused to suffer personal injury damages, economic damages, and/or wrongful death (Damages). All three "elements" must be proved.
Medical Malpractice Damages
The term "Damages" as an element of a medical malpractice case refers to those things for which the law allows the victim or his or her family to collect money compensation. There are two main types of damages; economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages from medical malpractice, surgical malpractice or professional negligence are objectively identifiable money damages which can be calculated such as out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of the medical malpractice, surgical malpractice or professional negligence and lost wages caused to be suffered as a result of the medical malpractice, surgical malpractice or professional negligence.
Economic damages may include past or future out-of-pocket expense and wage loss "caused" by the "breach of the accepted standard of care."
Expenses incurred may be in the form of hospital bills, medication bills, nursing care bills, therapy bills, medical appliance costs (such as a wheel chair), and construction costs associated with making one's home wheel chair accessible, to name a few. These types of economic damages caused by medical malpractice, surgical malpractice or professional negligence are referred to as out-of-pocket expenses, even though the "pocket" out of which they are paid often is the "pocket" of a health insurance company, medicare. or medicaid.
The out-of-pocket expenses listed above constitute one type of economic damages which can be caused by medical malpractice, surgical malpractice or professional negligence. The other type of economic damages that can be caused by medical malpractice, surgical malpractice or professional negligence are related to lost wages. The term "lost wages" refers to that sum of money that and person who suffers personal injury or wrongful death as a result of medical malpractice, surgical malpractice or professional negligence would have earned, both past and future, had they not been the victim of medical malpractice, surgical malpractice or professional negligence resulting in personal injury or wrongful death.
Non-economic damages are those damages suffered which do not refer to an out-of-pocket expense or lost wages. Non-economic damages include the emotional pain, suffering, and anguish that are inflicted on the victims of medical malpractice, surgical malpractice or professional negligence.
More Information about the Three Elements of Medical Malpractice
All three elements must exist and be provable for there to be valid case for medical malpractice. Click the blue text links for more information.
I. Breach of the Accepted Standard of Care
B. Omissions (Failure to Act)
A. Economic Damages
1. Out-of-Pocket Expenses
2. Wage Loss
B. Non-Economic Damages
1. Physical Pain and Suffering
2. Emotional Pain and Suffering
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