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Important Evidence in Medical Malpractice Cases

January 31, 2021 By Cerussi and Gunn P.C. Legal Team

Medical malpractice is the failure of a health care professional, through a negligent act or omission, to treat a patient with the acceptable standards of care. When malpractice causes a patient injury, the victim can file a civil claim in New Jersey. It is the victim’s burden, however, to prove his or her case using evidence.

What Must You Prove in a Medical Malpractice Case?

First, understand the standard of proof necessary to succeed with a medical malpractice claim. The evidentiary standard in a medical malpractice or personal injury case is lower than in a criminal case. A civil case does not require proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, the burden is a preponderance of the evidence.

You or your attorney will need enough evidence to prove four elements as more likely to be true than not true:

  1. A doctor-patient relationship existed between you and the defendant.
  2. The doctor was negligent, or careless, in upholding the accepted standards of patient care.
  3. The doctor’s negligence caused your injury, illness or a loved one’s death.
  4. The incident gave you specific compensable damages, such as medical costs.

Medical malpractice claims can be difficult to win. The defendant must be at least 51% responsible for the injury in question, and your lawyer must prove this using clear and convincing evidence. Hiring a medical malpractice attorney in New Jersey can help you preserve, collect and present enough evidence of medical malpractice to meet the burden of proof.

Medical Records

Evidence in a medical malpractice case often starts with the victim’s medical records. The injured patient’s medical records are vital to establishing that an injury or illness occurred, as well as the severity of the plaintiff’s losses. Medical records can include test results, scans, x-rays, physicians’ reports, surgical records, treatment plans, prescriptions and letters from the doctor.

Testimony From the Defendant

Many medical malpractice cases in New Jersey involve direct testimony from the defendant. Hearing from the doctor, surgeon or nurse in the defendant’s seat during a medical malpractice case can give a jury important insights as to why the practitioner performed the act in question.

The defendant’s version of events can also explain the cause and nature of the medical error. If the defendant gives testimony that contradicts hard evidence found in the patient’s medical records, this could help the patient’s case by painting the defendant as an unreliable witness.

Signed Statements From Eyewitnesses

Eyewitness statements are a common form of evidence during personal injury claims and medical malpractice lawsuits. Eyewitnesses have information no one else does, from their unique vantage points during the accident or act of malpractice.

Your lawyer can search for eyewitnesses, such as medical staff members, nurses, maintenance workers and other patients and gather signed statements explaining what they saw. Eyewitness statements can help a jury piece together what happened and why.

Medical Expert Testimony

One of the most critical pieces of evidence for a medical malpractice claim to succeed is testimony from a comparable medical professional. To hold a medical professional legally responsible for an injury or illness, the plaintiff must prove that another reasonable and prudent physician in the same specialization would have done something differently in the same circumstances and that this would have prevented the plaintiff’s injuries. Proving this generally requires bringing in a medical expert to testify.

A health care provider in a similar field of medicine as the defendant who is viewed as an expert in his or her craft, such as someone with many years of relevant experience, can help a jury understand what another physician would have done differently to prevent the plaintiff’s injuries. This could convince a jury that the defendant did, in fact, breach the standard of care and is therefore liable for damages. For more information about important evidence for a medical malpractice case, contact a lawyer.