Proving Your Case - Causation

Proving Your Medical Malpractice Case: Causation

In Ohio, a plaintiff must prove four key elements to bring a medical malpractice claim:

  • The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty.
  • The defendant failed to meet the standard of care.
  • This failure caused injury to the plaintiff.
  • The plaintiff suffered damages.

In most medical malpractice cases, it's easy to prove that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty. A doctor-patient relationship creates this duty. Also, it's usually clear that a patient has suffered some type of harm or injury. However, it's more difficult for patients to prove that the doctor or nurse acted below the standard of care and that this was the cause of the harm. This is one reason why the help of an experienced attorney is vital to a claim.

Preponderance Of The Evidence

In Ohio, the plaintiff must prove his or her medical malpractice claim by a preponderance of the evidence. In other words, the plaintiff must convince the jury that it is more likely than not that the defendant's negligence caused the patient harm.

This may sound like a favorable standard, but medical malpractice claims are highly contentious and technical. A large part of the defendant's goal is to plant doubt in the minds of jurors. In most Ohio medical malpractice trials, the defendants win by convincing the jury that the plaintiff hasn't proved his or her case by a preponderance of the evidence.

Causation: The "But For" Test

In Ohio medical negligence claims, there are two types of causation: actual cause and proximate cause. To establish actual cause, the plaintiff must demonstrate that his or her injuries would not have occurred "but for" the negligent actions of the defendant, or that the plaintiff's injury was a foreseeable result of those actions. Proximate cause involves an examination of all other relevant factors to determine whether the alleged negligence legally caused the patient's injury.

A defendant will vigorously fight to show that the patient's injury occurred from other causes. Malpractice cases often involve underlying medical conditions, with defendants making strong arguments that a pre-existing condition was the cause of the plaintiff's injury. It takes an experienced lawyer to counter these arguments and make jurors feel confident that the injuries involved did result from the defendant's acts of malpractice.

Expert Testimony

Expert testimony is crucial for both sides in a medical malpractice lawsuit. An expert witness - usually a specialized doctor - testifies in front of a jury to provide his or her medical opinion on important aspects of the case. The competing testimony is often described as a "battle of the experts" that will have a large impact on the court's decision.

Successful medical malpractice attorneys use their extensive networks to find the most appealing expert witnesses and partner with them to build the strongest case for the jury. It's a complicated and time-consuming task, but it often determines whether the plaintiff wins or loses.

To speak with an experienced Ohio medical mistakes lawyer about your claim, contact The Donahey Law Firm at 866-918-5886 or email us.