Why Is It Hard to Prove Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is alarmingly common. In fact, a frequently cited study conducted by Johns Hopkins Medicine found that medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the United States.
Of course, not all medical errors lead to death. Patients often suffer injuries, illnesses, and complications that their doctors could – and should – have helped them avoid.
Yet, medical malpractice can be very difficult to prove. Another study found that 80 percent of medical malpractice cases that go to trial end with a verdict in favor of the defendant. So what accounts for this disparity between the prevalence of medical malpractice and the relatively small proportion of successful medical malpractice claims?
5 Reasons Why It Is Hard to Prove Medical Malpractice
There are several factors that can help explain the low percentage of successful medical malpractice claims. Here are five reasons why it is so difficult to prove medical malpractice:
1. Your Healthcare Provider Won’t Necessarily Tell the Truth
We’ll get this one out of the way first. Doctors and other healthcare providers who are facing medical malpractice claims have a lot at stake. Not only could they face significant financial liability (although this liability will most likely fall to their insurance company), but they could also be at risk of disciplinary action – up to and including revocation of their medical license.
With this in mind, if you believe you may have a medical malpractice claim, it is important that you not discuss the issue with your provider. Instead, you should contact a lawyer and let your lawyer deal with the provider on your behalf.
2. Your Healthcare Provider Will Turn Your Claim Over to Its Medical Malpractice Insurance Company
Most healthcare providers have medical malpractice insurance coverage. When patients bring malpractice claims, providers will simply turn these claims over to their insurance carriers. Their carriers will, in turn, fight to avoid liability by all means available.
Insurance companies don’t care about the life-altering consequences of medical malpractice. All they care about is protecting their bottom line. They will look for any excuse to deny a claim, including trying to blame patients for their own medical injuries and adverse events whenever possible.
3. Not All Medical Mistakes Amount to Medical Malpractice
A common insurance defense tactic in medical malpractice cases is to argue that even if the provider made a mistake, the mistake does not rise to the level of malpractice. Under Florida law, this can be a valid defense. Not all medical mistakes are “actionable,” and there are a variety of circumstances in which a mistake on the part of a doctor or other provider may be justified in light of the circumstances under which care was provided.
4. You Must Be Able to Prove That Your Provider Failed to Meet the Requisite Standard of Care
Proving that a mistake rises to the level of medical malpractice in Florida requires evidence that the provider failed to meet the “prevailing professional standard of care.” As defined in Section 766.102 of the Florida Statutes, this is the “level of care, skill, and treatment which, in light of all relevant surrounding circumstances, is recognized as acceptable and appropriate by reasonably prudent similar health care providers.” If other medical professionals provide the same care given the same set of circumstances, this can make it difficult for you to argue that your injuries arose from medical negligence.
5. You Must Be Able to Prove That Your Provider’s Negligence Caused Your Injuries
Medical malpractice insurance companies will also frequently defend against patients’ claims by arguing that patients cannot prove causation. Even if a provider made a serious error, the provider (and the provider’s insurance company) isn’t liable if the patient’s condition isn’t a direct result of an error on the part of a medical professional.
Patients have the burden of proof in medical malpractice claims. When insurers raise the issue of causation, it can be challenging to overcome.
How Do You Prove Medical Malpractice?
Given these challenges, how do you prove medical malpractice? While proving medical malpractice may be difficult, it is not impossible.
By working with qualified medical experts who can examine providers’ errors and the effects these errors have on your health and well-being, a medical malpractice lawyer can build a strong claim for fair compensation. If a healthcare provider is liable for medical malpractice, filing a successful claim is a matter of collecting the necessary evidence, dealing with the provider’s insurance company effectively, and being prepared to go to court if necessary.
If you think you may have a medical malpractice claim, we encourage you to get in touch with Colling Gilbert Wright. Call (407) 712-7300 to schedule a free consultation with an Orlando medical malpractice lawyer today.