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How To Prove a Doctor Was Medically Negligent

March 8, 2023

If your physician makes a mistake, and you suffer harm as a result, proving that your doctor was medically negligent will be crucial for recovering damages. Some mistakes will be justified under the circumstances (at least in the eyes of the law), and the law gives doctors a certain amount of leeway to exercise their judgment without the risk of legal liability.

 So, when is a doctor’s mistake considered to be “negligent”? How do you prove a doctor was medically negligent? 

When Doctors’ Mistakes Constitute Medical Negligence 

A doctor’s mistake is considered to be negligent when the mistake reflects a deviation from the appropriate standard of care. In Illinois, all doctors are held to a certain standard of care when diagnosing and treating their patients. This doesn’t mean that they have to be perfect, but it does mean that they have to provide care consistent with the level of care provided by their peers. 

In many cases, the circumstances surrounding a patient’s diagnosis and treatment will be important for determining whether a doctor’s mistake constitutes negligence. 

There are certain elements your attorney must demonstrate to establish negligence:

  • A relationship between a doctor and patient was present, either through mutual consent or the provision of medical treatment.
  • The medical professional was held to a duty of care, which established their legal responsibility to provide treatment in line with accepted medical standards.
  • There was a breach of this duty of care, as the medical provider(s) failed to fulfill their obligations.
  • This breach of care was the direct cause of the injury, which can be evidenced by medical records and expert testimony.
  • The injury resulted in damages, which may include medical costs, anguish, lost wages, or other negative effects stemming from the injury. 

Proving that Your Doctor was Medically Negligent

Regardless of the circumstances involved, proving that a doctor was medically negligent is typically a multi-step process. But, it is also an important process, and a process that is well worth the time and effort involved if you have a medical malpractice claim. While every case is unique, generally speaking, the steps involved in proving medical negligence are as follows: 

1. Getting the Diagnosis and Treatment You Need (if Possible) 

When dealing with suspected medical negligence—whether related to your diagnosis or treatment—the first step is to make sure you get the diagnosis and treatment you need. Not only is this important for your health, but it is also important for proving that your previous doctor made an inexcusable mistake. 

If you have lost a loved one to suspected medical negligence, then of course this step won’t be possible—and that’s okay. In cases of medical negligence resulting in wrongful death, your first step is to consult with a lawyer about your family’s legal rights. 

2. Collecting All Relevant Medical Records 

Proving medical negligence requires access to your (or your loved one’s) medical records. With this in mind, you should take some time to collect all of the records you have in your possession. This includes any scans, test results, prescriptions, bills, explanations of benefits (EOBs), and receipts you may have. If your healthcare provider has an online portal, you can check the portal for any records that are available for download as well. If you don’t have access to any records that are needed, your lawyer can obtain them on your behalf. 

3. Engaging a Medical Expert to Examine the Doctor’s Mistake 

After collecting your (or your loved one’s) medical records, your lawyer will need to engage a medical expert to examine the mistake in question. There are medical doctors who specialize in analyzing medical malpractice claims, and an experienced medical malpractice lawyer will have close working relationships with several specialists. When pursuing a medical malpractice claim, this doctor’s role is to determine if the mistake in question reflects a deviation from the requisite standard of care. 

4. Building a Case for Medical Negligence Under Illinois Law

Finally, after gathering all of the information needed, your lawyer will use the available evidence to build a case for medical negligence under Illinois law. Your lawyer will use the available evidence during settlement negotiations with the doctor’s insurance company, and your lawyer will present your case in court if necessary. 

Call a Chicago Medical Malpractice Lawyer for FREE

If your doctor was medically negligent, you need a knowledgeable attorney with considerable experience in medical malpractice claims. These cases can be extremely complex, and require the skill and resources of a firm that understands the complexities of these difficult claims.

The Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Coplan + Crane have built a reputation for excellence throughout Illinois. Driven by a collective passion for justice, our legal team has recovered millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements on behalf of our clients. 

If you need to know more about filing a medical negligence claim in Illinois, we encourage you to contact us for a FREE, no-obligation consultation.

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Don’t face your injuries alone. Call (708) 358-8080 or tell us how we can reach you online today. Coplan + Crane serves clients throughout Illinois, including Chicago, Oak Park, Rockford, and other areas.