In order to have a malpractice claim, your medical professional must have acted negligently. This is to say that your doctor failed to treat you with a standard of care. A standard of care is the agreed upon method or methods employed by medical providers in the given geographic area for a condition or illness. This standard changes depending on a number of factors, including the age of the patient and the condition being treated.
When my father passed from MRSA acquired after open heart surgery (acquired either in the hospital or rehab center) I called 40 attorneys and was told the exact same thing as the article states: He was too old, had lost his viability (translate earning potential) and had no wife (she had died). Most of them would not tell me why they would not take the case, but one did. It's not only hard to hear that your elderly parent has no value legally, but this is exactly why doctors and hospitals and other medical facilities continue their poor attempts at keeping hospitals as clean as possible. They answer to no one.

However, our legal system is set up in such a way where monetary damages is not only a way to compensate persons for lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering; it is also there as a way to hold doctors accountable for their actions. Without the threat of monetary sanctions and lawsuits, doctors would lose some motivation for conducting their professional lives in a careful and cautious manner. Furthermore, if you doctor did negligently injure you or a loved one, bringing suit against him may serve as a wakeup call and could possibly prevent him from injuring someone else in the future.


Most states have case law requiring courts to simultaneously treat those who represent themselves, known as pro se (pronounced “pro say”) litigants by the same standards as a minimally competent attorney. However, they are also usually required to give pro se litigants the benefit of the doubt. This strange double standard can lead to unusual and unpredictable results.
The keys are 1) establishing the medical standard of care, meaning the level of care that was appropriate under the circumstances, and 2) demonstrating how the defendant fell short of meeting that standard. And in almost all cases, you’ll need the help of a medical expert witness to help you establish these things. An experienced medical malpractice attorney will be part of a network of professionals -- doctors, consultants, medical experts who have served in a variety of cases, and other medical malpractice attorneys -- and will utilize this network to locate and hire the right medical expert for your case.

Figures released in September 2015 by the Democratic Alliance’s Gauteng shadow MEC for health and member of the provincial legislature, Jack Bloom, show that R540 million was paid out by the Gauteng Provincial Department of Health as compensation for medical malpractice between 2010 and September 2015. This is money that would otherwise have been used to provide health services, Bloom says.

95. In our considered view, the aforementioned principles must be kept in view while deciding the cases of medical negligence. We should not be understood to have held that doctors can never be prosecuted for medical negligence. As long as the doctors have performed their duties and exercised an ordinary degree of professional skill and competence, they cannot be held guilty of medical negligence. It is imperative that the doctors must be able to perform their professional duties with free mind.
Not every mistake or bad result means there was negligence—doctors and healthcare providers are not liable for every mistake. The law realizes that doctors often have to make quick decisions without the best information. The key question is this: did the doctor make a reasonable decision that other reasonable doctors would have made in the same situation—even if later it turns out to be the wrong decision that caused a bad result. For example, you complain to your doctor of severe head pain. They pay attention and examine you. They carefully take your medical history, listen to you describe your symptoms, and order the right tests. Using the results of this examination, they decide that you have an ordinary tension headache that will go away. Later, it turns out that your doctor was wrong, and the pain was not caused by a tension headache. The doctor’s diagnosis was wrong. But your doctor still provided the proper standard of care, the same care that other doctors would have provided in this case. The doctor was not negligent and you probably won’t win if you sue the doctor for malpractice.
Establish that Medical Negligence Occurred – Medical negligence occurs when a healthcare provider violates the medical standard of care, or the professionally-accepted method for diagnosing or treating a specific condition. The standard of care may vary depending on factors individual to each patient, such as age, geographic location, overall health, and the specific condition.
While most people may immediately think of a formal lawsuit when they consider seeking compensation for injuries caused by medical negligence, the fact is that in some situations, avoiding the expense and potential uncertainty of a formal lawsuit may result in a more favorable outcome. Others simply want to avoid "suing their doctor", but want to get compensation for their injuries. Read on to learn more about the options for resolving your medical malpractice case outside of the traditional court setting.
I fear misdiagnosis cases a lot. This is particularly because of the statute of limitations and its unforgiving nature in situations like this. Whereas there are exceptions in the statute of limitations for continuing treatment of that condition (which once misdiagnosed, that isn’t the case anymore) and the foreign object discover rule, in misdiagnosis cases these exceptions don’t work. More importantly, if a doctor misdiagnoses the condition, that mistake might not manifest itself until after the statute of limitations expires! Meaning, the patient cannot sue!

When it comes to lawsuits over misdiagnosis, plaintiffs need to follow the same steps for proving medical malpractice as in any other kind of case. It must be shown that, in failing to accurately diagnose a harmful health condition, the doctor failed to demonstrate the level of skill that a similarly-trained and experienced doctor would have shown under the circumstances.
Calitz explains that to bring a successful medical malpractice claim, you need to prove that the treatment you received deviated from a particular “standard of care”, and that it was the deviation (which can be an act or omission) from this standard that resulted in harm. The “standard of care” is defined as what a reasonably prudent medical provider would or would not have done under the same or similar circumstances.
In most states, first responders in a medical emergency situation (such as an EMT or a firefighter) are protected from lawsuits unless the first responder does something reckless or intentional. This protection for first responders does not apply to emergency rooms in hospitals, although in some states an emergency room doctor must act with gross negligence to be held liable for harm that occurs before the patient is stabilized.
You can also recover damages for physical pain and suffering, mental and emotional suffering, inconvenience, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life and "loss of consortium" (the loss of company/love/relations with your spouse). Many states have set limits on the amount of damages available to injured patients in medical malpractice cases. So, pain and suffering for the same injury may be in the millions in Illinois, but will be $250,000 or less in a state that limits pain and suffering damages to $250,000.
Holding Negligent Healthcare Providers Accountable Our team of experienced, litigating attorneys have spent thousands of hours in actual courtrooms fighting for victims of medical malpractice in Florida. Our firm has the resources necessary to hire the appropriate expert witnesses, investigators, … Continue reading Florida Medical Malpractice Attorneys

Kyle J. Shelton is licensed to practice law in both Arizona and California. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. You are encouraged to contact an attorney in your state to ensure that you receive the proper guidance/advice in your situation.

Medical malpractice cases can be timely and costly, which is why most such cases are settled out of court. In addition, because medical malpractice insurance companies reject a significantly large portion of medical malpractice claims, it may be in your best interest to settle out-of-court or risk having no case at all. Keep in mind, however, that if you believe you have a strong case, then you should seek a larger settlement.


Differential diagnosis is a systemic method used by doctors to identify a disease or condition in a patient. Based upon a preliminary evaluation of the patient, the doctor makes a list of diagnoses in order of probability. The physician then tests the strength of each diagnosis by making further medical observations of the patient, asking detailed questions about symptoms and medical history, ordering tests, or referring the patient to specialists. Ideally, a number of potential diagnoses will be ruled out as the investigation progresses, and only one diagnosis will remain at the end. Of course, given the uncertain nature of medicine, this is not always the case.
Finally, you should also report the incident to a state regulatory agency for further investigation and possible punitive action. Although many of these punishments will be less than what you may want, it still creates a paper trail that can be presented as evidence in a civil case. Doctors and nurses should be reported to their regulatory boards. State health departments are in charge of hospitals and nursing homes, so they should be contacted if the incident occurred at one of these sites.

If you suffer mental anguish arising from a case of personal injury or medical malpractice, you may recover non-economic damages. However, in some jurisdictions, you may only be allowed to recover a specified maximum. Also, you will have to prove your injuries by a preponderance of the evidence. Talk with an experienced attorney to discuss the details of your case.
As to what constitutes severe emotional distress, the courts here require that it rise above the level of temporary fright, regret or disappointment. Rather, the plaintiff must be able to show that they suffer from a severe and disabling emotional or mental disorder that mental health professionals generally recognize and diagnose, such as chronic depression, neurosis, psychosis or phobia.
To file a certificate of merit you must first contact an expert, usually another physician. This expert will review your medical records and certify that the original health care provider deviated from accepted medical practices, which resulted in your injuries. The attorney that you hire will now file the certificate of merit, which confirms that you spoke with a medical expert and that your action has merit.
MPS insures doctors in the private sector. According to its figures, thought to be conservative by some practitioners, the number of claims increased by 27 percent between 2009 and 2015, and claim size escalated by an average of 14 percent over the same period. At the Medico-Legal Summit, a once-off event convened by the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, in March 2015, MPS’s head of medical services in Africa, Dr Graham Howarth, said that the highest claim currently, lodged in 2013, was for R80 million.
Damages for negligence—if you prove there was negligence and the negligence caused your injury or illness, a court may order the doctor, hospital, or healthcare provider to pay you damages for the harm the negligence caused. This can include lost earnings, medical and other expenses, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. This last category is the court’s attempt to compensate you for the effect of the negligence on your life, in general. The doctor is responsible only for the harm that their negligence caused. For example, say you consented to surgery that would require you to take 2 months off work to recover, if done properly. But the surgeon was negligent and as a result you had to take 6 months off. In this case, you would be paid only for the extra 4 months of lost earnings caused by the negligence. You would not be compensated for the first 2 months off because you had consented to that. And you still would have had to take the 2 months off if the surgery had gone as planned.
8. Believe that the case is about retribution and punishment to the doctor and not about the cold calculation of money compensation for your losses. The College of Physicians and Surgeons is the watch dog over the conduct and medical standard of care of doctors in Ontario. Their process is ponderous but does not cost you anything. They get there sooner or later.
The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney or if you do not have an attorney, consult with an attorney.
According to Joseph’s Incorporated, proof of negligence is decided on the basis of a balance of probabilities. If you want to pursue a case, the onus is on you to prove negligence, as well as damage due to the negligence (see “Burden of proof”, below). Medical experts have to provide relevant, credible, reliable information, as it is certain that opposing lawyers will look for any opportunity to discredit them.
It isn’t surprising that you like your doctor. Otherwise, why else would you keep going back to him year after year? But so what? Liking your doctor shouldn’t keep you from suing him if he has caused you emotional and/or physical harm. Think about it – the legal system is around for a reason. It’s there to provide people with a way to receive compensation from someone who has harmed.

A good case in point is that of a Missouri teenager who went to the emergency room after a car accident. An infection was not diagnosed in time and led to permanent brain injury. The jury awarded the plaintiff close to 5 million dollars in damages. The young man now has permanent loss of motor skills and cognitive skills. The cost of his future medical expenses was a factor for the jury when deciding the award amount.

These things are the different “elements” of pain and suffering damages. It is basically financial compensation for having to “go through” certain things that you otherwise would not have had to if it wasn’t for the accident/injury. In minor incidents, it is compensation for the inconvenience; in major cases, it is compensation for the agony and suffering. For example, your medical bills may be covered, but that doesn’t compensate you for the pain of never being able to pick up your grandchild again. It makes perfect sense if you think about it in that way.


Many medical malpractice cases involve significant harm to the patient, the need for a long-term course of (very expensive) health care, and even the prospect of lifelong disability. Add that to the fact that you’re going to need to hire a qualified medical expert witness (an expensive but necessary step), and it’s easy to see how losing the case could be devastating.
In 2015, a Michigan doctor pleaded guilty to purposefully misdiagnosing patients with cancer and treating patients with strong cancer drugs they did not need. He also pleaded guilty to Medicare fraud, receiving kickbacks, and money laundering. The doctor is currently serving a 45-year prison sentence. A misdiagnosis that leads a healthy person to believe he or she is sick is a nightmare. This extreme example does showcase patient vulnerability and the trust they put in attending physicians.
Damages from pain and suffering are, therefore, subjective. There is no formula and certainly no standardized calculation for pain and suffering. It is the job of the jury (or the judge if there is no jury) to determine what is fair and reasonable, which they will often do based on their own life experiences. The jury will consider whether the plaintiff is credible and sympathetic. This subjectivity means that damages from pain and suffering can vary tremendously from case to case -- even if the underlying injury is the same.

Search for disciplinary sanctions. Visit your state’s disciplinary board to see if the attorney has been sanctioned in the past. Attorneys are sanctioned for ethics violations, such as disclosing client confidences or failing to respond to client emails. They are not sanctioned for failing to win cases, unless their performance was so low as to be negligent.


Not every mistake or bad result means there was negligence—doctors and healthcare providers are not liable for every mistake. The law realizes that doctors often have to make quick decisions without the best information. The key question is this: did the doctor make a reasonable decision that other reasonable doctors would have made in the same situation—even if later it turns out to be the wrong decision that caused a bad result. For example, you complain to your doctor of severe head pain. They pay attention and examine you. They carefully take your medical history, listen to you describe your symptoms, and order the right tests. Using the results of this examination, they decide that you have an ordinary tension headache that will go away. Later, it turns out that your doctor was wrong, and the pain was not caused by a tension headache. The doctor’s diagnosis was wrong. But your doctor still provided the proper standard of care, the same care that other doctors would have provided in this case. The doctor was not negligent and you probably won’t win if you sue the doctor for malpractice.

When pursuing a claim against a doctor or hospital specifically, there may be “caps on damages.” This means that if a jury awards $10 million for pain and suffering in a medical malpractice case, a judge may be required by law to reduce that award to $250,000 or $500,000. These limits on non-economic damages vary from state and state, and will not always apply. Frequently catastrophic injuries, such as paralysis, brain injuries, or severe injuries to children, are allowed a higher limit. However, the caps do not generally apply to the portion of a monetary award meant for past and future medical care, lost income, or other financial losses.
How is emotional distress defined in the eyes of the law? In most cases, you can only sue for emotional damages if the incident in question physically harmed you. Emotional distress suits are trickier than other types of lawsuits. It’s important to have a solid understanding of the types of emotional distress claims before you attempt to file a lawsuit.
You may have read about a “multiplier” in personal injury or medical malpractice cases. Using a “multiplier” means that insurance companies calculate pain and suffering as being worth some multiple of your economic damages (medical bills and lost earnings). However, the “multiplier” concept should only be viewed as an very rough estimate at best. Juries do not use multipliers when they are in the jury room trying to determine your damages, and there are many other factors that affect the outcome of a case. Some of the factors that can greatly impact the value of a plaintiff’s pain and suffering damages are the following:
Queen’s University law professor Erik Knutsen can name only seven top lawyers who specialize in patient-side medical malpractice versus an army of lawyers from top law firms available to the CMPA. Individual plaintiff lawyers often have to finance cases for as much as $150,000 because their clients can’t afford to. If the lawyers lose, they don’t get the money back. “Trying to convince today’s generation of young lawyers to get into this area where they are going to be bankrolling someone else’s misery at their own cost is a tough sell,” Knutsen said.
Answers in this general Q&A forum are for discussion purposes only, are not being provided in the context of an attorney-client relationship and are not to be construed as providing legal advice. Massey Law Firm PLLC and its attorneys may be retained only on the basis of a written contract, signed by the attorney and the potential client, together with the payment of fees and costs as may be required by the contract.
Another potential cause of action is intentional infliction of emotional distress. This is based on a doctor’s outrageous conduct that intentionally or recklessly causes a patient to suffer severe emotional distress. This must be beyond a mere slight as it must be something that would outrage society. The common law tort required a physical manifestation of injury, but most jurisdictions no longer require this element. This cause of action has been successful in some cases in which patients recorded their doctors performing medical treatment while mocking and ridiculing the patient to a serious degree.
I may not live long enough to see minor children gain the same rights that adults have to sue for outrageous instances of extreme emotional abuse (and physical abuse, and sexual abuse) but I hope that some day minor children WILL be given the right to sue their parents for ghastly instances of child abuse (such as sexual molestation), emotional abuse, and skin-crawling incidents of child neglect and child exploitation.
The study recommended reforming the system by increasing funding for legal services, so attorneys could be compensated for their time; making defendants who lose a case pay the plaintiff's attorney fees; or sending malpractice complaints to an administrative system with neutral adjudicators and medical experts so patients wouldn't need an attorney.
While such an idea once sounded like pure science fiction, it would present enormous opportunities in business, leisure, and medicine. Imagine, someone with a rare disease or medical condition could quickly travel anywhere in the world to obtain the best treatment option. In fact, this is already occurring, as people travel to numerous places for both medical and dental treatment. But, as we all know, sometimes medical treatment goes wrong, and this raises an interesting question. Can you sue doctors in other countries for medical malpractice?
3. Expect that the case will be quick and cheap. Although experienced lawyers will take on viable cases on a “contingency basis”, you will likely be expected to front the costs of initial medical opinion(s) and record gathering. Be prepared for no less than $5,000 and as much as $15,000 to get started. If the investigation is favourable, most lawyers will pay the freight from this point to the end of the case.
Establish that Medical Negligence Occurred – Medical negligence occurs when a healthcare provider violates the medical standard of care, or the professionally-accepted method for diagnosing or treating a specific condition. The standard of care may vary depending on factors individual to each patient, such as age, geographic location, overall health, and the specific condition.
Unfortunately there are no limits on how long they can take to deal with your complaint, and it can depend on factors such as how many staff they need to speak to and how easy it is to access your medical records. But be persistent. If you’ve been waiting for more than six months for it to be resolved, you can report it to the independent Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (ombudsman.org.uk).
The first step is a letter of demand, a letter sent by your lawyer to the doctor or health facility concerned, setting out your claim and the period in which the accused should meet it. Thereafter, getting a case to court can take up to four years. Accurate case data and hospital notes have to be gathered; records relating to the patient’s prior medical history, treatment at the hands of the suspected transgressor, and any subsequent treatment must be obtained. Then, lay witnesses must be found, expert witnesses briefed and court dates agreed on. In addition, both the patient’s medical condition and prevailing medical treatments have to be researched.
The mother filed a lawsuit against the theme park, alleging that her son’s “skin had a negative reaction to the paint used on his face at Legoland that has caused him great pain and suffering, as well as two years of humiliation by other child and deep emotional distress.” They are seeking more than $15,000 in damages for Legoland’s alleged negligence and for negligent infliction of emotional distress.
The civil tort of assault is premised on the fact that a person says something or otherwise implies that he or she will have some type of harmful or offensive contact with the victim and the victim has reasonable apprehension of this contact occurring. This tort does not require that the contact actually occur, but merely requires that the victim has the apprehension that it will. In the medical context, this may occur if a doctor threatens to take medical action against the patient’s will.
The standard of care—this varies with the level of specialty of the doctor—the standard may be higher for specialists. And it varies with time—today’s standard may not be good enough next year. You can’t always expect the best care available at the most sophisticated research hospital. The standard of care may be affected by the level of hospital that treats you.
3. Expect that the case will be quick and cheap. Although experienced lawyers will take on viable cases on a “contingency basis”, you will likely be expected to front the costs of initial medical opinion(s) and record gathering. Be prepared for no less than $5,000 and as much as $15,000 to get started. If the investigation is favourable, most lawyers will pay the freight from this point to the end of the case.
I have this fantasy in which I am four years old again, and my screaming, raging bpd mother is looming over me and threatening to beat me with a heavy leather belt again, and I just very calmly fold my arms and say something like, "OK, lady. Fine. You take ONE step closer to me and I'm calling my lawyer. Your crazy ass is going to get hauled into jail for physically assaulting and battering a 4-year-old with a dangerous object. That's YEARS in prison, you fucking maniac. Just try it, I dare you."
These factors all have to do with human nature. If you don’t like somebody, why would you help that person? Jurors feel the same way. If jurors don’t like someone who is going before them asking for money (i.e., a plaintiff in a malpractice case), they are not going to give that person much money. A likable plaintiff who is a good witness is going to do a lot better at trial than will an unpleasant plaintiff who is a forgetful, argumentative witness.
When you need medical care, you tend to rely on doctors whether it’s your primary care physician or a referred specialist to manage your health in the best way possible. You trust doctors to advise you about your health condition, medication, and routine care. However, there may be times when that trust is broken due to negligence. When medical mistakes or negligence occurs while you or a loved one is receiving medical care, the consequences can be devastating sometimes resulting in death or a lifelong debilitating condition.

Chris Archer, the chief executive of South African Private Practitioners Forum, says it is fashionable for health practitioners to blame lawyers for the increase in malpractice cases, but the working conditions of many health professionals also play a role. “Many health professionals work in solo practices or small partnerships without professional support or routine peer review. There is limited use of protocols and guidelines and little to no teamwork among private practitioners,” he says.
8. Believe that the case is about retribution and punishment to the doctor and not about the cold calculation of money compensation for your losses. The College of Physicians and Surgeons is the watch dog over the conduct and medical standard of care of doctors in Ontario. Their process is ponderous but does not cost you anything. They get there sooner or later.
We offer a completely free, no obligation Medical Negligence Claim Assessment. We understand that suing your GP may not be an easy decision so we are here to help and advise you. We will take the time to listen to your complaint, and then explain whether you can sue a doctor, how long it might take, how you can fund the claim and how much compensation you might receive.
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