The parties in a medical malpractice (med mal) claim are a plaintiff patient or a representative and the healthcare provider. For a successful claim the plaintiff must demonstrate that a duty was owed and breached. Further, he or she must show that the breach led to an injury and that deviation from the accepted standard and damages occurred.
The plaintiff files a case with the appropriate court. Both sides conduct a discovery of information including documents and statements. They may try to reach a settlement, rather than go to trial. If a trial results, the plaintiff must prove his case. The judge or jury hears the case and decides which side is more convincing.
Expert witnesses must win Court approval. Such judgments are based on the individual’s background, education and experience pertinent to the issue at hand. The prevalent approach to vetting prospective experts is for them to be interviewed by the judge who validates the reliability and relevance of the witness.
The med mal plaintiff might seek compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory might be lost wages, medical costs and assisted care; so called economic damages that can be assessed for both current and past losses. Punitive damages are awarded only in cases of gross negligence.
Appropriate legal counsel is absolutely necessary for any healthcare provider charged with malpractice.