Do I need an expert to prove hospital medical malpractice?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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If a hospital provides you with substandard care, you may file a civil lawsuit to recover for hospital medical malpractice compensation. A hospital medical malpractice lawsuit can be brought if the hospital provides a level of care below what a reasonable hospital would, such as by providing an unclean environment or not having sufficient or capable staff. A hospital can also be held vicariously liable (indirectly liable) for negligence by their employees. In any of these cases, you will almost always need an expert to prove hospital malpractice.

Why You Need a Hospital Malpractice Expert

When you wish to prove hospital medical malpractice, you must show: That the hospital (or it’s employee) owed a duty to you; that the hospital (or it’s employee) breached the duty owed to you – this is determined by comparing the behavior of the hospital or employee to what a reasonable hospital or healthcare provider would have done in a similar situation; that the breach was the direct cause of some type of harm to you; and that you suffered a financial loss as a result of the harm.

Because hospital malpractice claims always involve some type of lapse of medical care, an expert will be necessary to show what that lapse was. For instance, an expert can testify that most hospitals would have higher cleanliness standards or that most hospitals would have a better screening system before hiring staff. An expert can also show that a healthcare worker was lapse in inaccurately diagnosing you, or in the way in which he or she provided treatment.

Juries and judges who decide medical malpractice claims do not typically have the medical knowledge and background to understand what a reasonable hospital or healthcare provider would do, since decisions made in the medical field require a high level of expertise and technical, specialized knowledge. A good expert witness will be able to explain in understandable terms exactly what went wrong and why it was wrong.

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Proving Causation

One of the most difficult aspects of any hospital malpractice claim is proving causation. Many hospitals and doctors will argue that your underlying illness or injury that caused you to come to the hospital also caused your injuries. Unless you are able to prove this incorrect and show that the hospital’s negligence or health care provider’s negligence was the direct cause of harm, you cannot win your malpractice claim. 

The hospital will have experts testifying on their side, and you need to have your own credible witnesses in order to refute their testimony and show that your version of the events is true. Often, hospital medical malpractice claims come down solely to the credibility of the experts, so having the most skilled expert you can find is key.

Hiring a Medical Malpractice Attorney

When you are the victim of hospital medical malpractice, it is imperative that you have an experienced legal professional representing you. Your attorney can assist you in finding the expert witnesses you need to successfully prove your case.

For a directory of expert witnesses in medical fields go to  

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