What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?


Medical malpractice is responsible for more than 250,000 deaths across the United States annually—and many more injuries and unchecked illnesses. Since medicine is far from an exact science, though, it can be challenging to determine if malpractice actually occurred following an unanticipated outcome.

While every case is undoubtedly unique, there are a few essential elements that make up all successful medical malpractice claims. Read on to learn about each of these elements in detail:

1. A Duty of Care

You cannot sue someone who happens to be a physician for giving you advice that turns out to be incorrect or unapplicable. In order to have grounds for a malpractice claim, there must have existed a formal doctor/patient relationship.

In other words, you must have seen the provider in a clinical setting. This establishes the foundation for all claims based on negligence, which is a duty of care.

2. A Breach of Duty

Just because a procedure didn’t go as planned doesn’t mean you’re entitled to damages. Unanticipated complications can arise, after all, in even the most controlled settings.

To have grounds for a claim, your physician must have deviated from the most widely accepted standard of care. While proving as much can pose a challenge, a resourceful attorney should be able to gather the evidence needed to demonstrate that a breach did, in fact, occur.

3. Causation

The physician’s breach of duty must have been directly responsible for the complications that you suffered. If you cannot prove that the doctor’s actions—or lack thereof—are linked to your injuries, illness, or worsening condition, you won’t be able to build a strong claim.

4. Damages

If your provider realized his or her mistake almost immediately and took the appropriate steps to correct it, you may not have grounds for a claim. In order to take action, you must have incurred actual damages as a result of the malpractice.

In Florida, personal injury claimants may seek compensation for both the monetary and non-monetary losses that they incur. Examples include:

  • Medical bills;
  • Home care;
  • Ongoing rehabilitation;
  • Home and vehicle modifications;
  • Lost income and benefits;
  • Loss of future earnings;
  • Domestic help;
  • Child care;
  • Reasonably necessary replacement services;
  • Emotional distress;
  • Loss of enjoyment in life; and
  • Pain and suffering.

If you happen to be married, your spouse may also be entitled to compensation for loss of consortium. This encompasses the loss of love, companionship, support, services, and affection that husbands and wives incur when their spouse falls ill or gets hurt at the hands of another.

Call (727) 821-1500 for a Free Consultation with a Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you or someone you love received substandard care in a clinical setting, contact Emerson Straw to determine how best to proceed. Our compassionate attorneys have more than 70 years of combined experience in the legal field.

By letting us handle the logistics of your case, you can focus on more important matters, like making a full recovery and taking care of your family. Call (727) 821-1500 or fill out our Contact Form to schedule a free consultation with a medical malpractice lawyer.