How Do I Know If I Have a Medical Malpractice Case?

How Do I Know If I Have a Medical Malpractice Case?

Joseph Conboy | February 22, 2024 | Medical Malpractice
How do I know if I have a medical malpractice case

Medical malpractice arises when a healthcare professional provides care that does not match the field’s standards, causing harm or injury to a patient. If you believe your doctor made a mistake that caused you harm, you might wonder if you have a case. Knowing whether you have a medical malpractice case involves understanding the legal definition of medical malpractice and identifying if your experience fits within that definition. It’s important to know that not all unsatisfactory medical outcomes are due to malpractice.

At Conboy Law, we believe every medical professional you go to has your best interests at heart. However, mistakes happen, and you should not have to pay the price for those mistakes. That is where medical malpractice lawsuits can help you protect your rights. Our medical malpractice lawyer would be honored to see if you have a valid medical malpractice claim.

Learn more about how to hold medical professionals accountable below. Then, contact us to schedule a free case consultation.

Understanding Medical Malpractice

Understanding medical malpractice

Medical malpractice occurs if a doctor or medical professional does not provide care that matches the industry standard. Then, that substandard care must harm the patient. The standard of care pertains to what a competent healthcare professional in the same field would have done under similar circumstances.

Medical malpractice comes in various shapes and forms. Common examples include errors in diagnosis, medical treatment, aftercare, or health management. Recognizing if your situation falls under one of these categories is the first step in determining if you might have a malpractice case against a medical provider.

The Basics of Medical Negligence

Medical negligence becomes malpractice when it causes harm. It’s not enough that a healthcare provider made a mistake; that mistake must result in injury or damage to the patient. For example, if a physician prescribes the wrong medication but no harm is done, it may not constitute malpractice. However, if that wrong medication causes a harmful reaction or worsens the patient’s condition, it could be considered malpractice.

Negligence in a medical setting can stem from failing to do something that should have been done or doing something that should not have been done. This can include misinterpreting test results, not providing the necessary treatment, or providing poor treatment. The key element is that these actions or inactions directly lead to harm or injury that could have been avoided.

The Four Essential Criteria for a Case

For a medical malpractice case to be valid, it must meet four essential criteria: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages. Each of these components is crucial in establishing a healthcare provider’s liability. If one of these elements is missing, it may significantly weaken the case. These criteria form the foundation of any medical malpractice lawsuit.

Duty of Care

Duty of care is the legal obligation of healthcare providers, doctors, and physicians to provide care that meets accepted medical standards. This means that when you visit a doctor or hospital, they must treat you with the skill, care, and diligence level that a reasonably competent healthcare provider would under similar circumstances. Establishing this duty is the first step in a medical malpractice case.

Breach of Duty

A duty breach occurs when a doctor does not meet the standard of care expected of them. This can happen through acts of omission or commission—either by not doing something necessary or by doing something improperly. To prove a breach of duty, it must be shown that the provider’s actions deviated from what is considered acceptable medical practice.


Causation is about linking the breach of duty directly to the harm sustained by the patient. It’s not enough to show that the healthcare provider made a mistake; it must be clear that this mistake was the direct cause of the injury. This often requires showing that the injury would not have taken place if the healthcare provider had followed the standards of the field.


Damages refer to the actual harm or injury suffered by the patient due to the medical professional’s actions or inaction. This can include physical pain, mental anguish, additional medical bills, and lost wages. To pursue a medical malpractice case, there must be clear evidence of these damages and their impact on the patient’s life.

Examples of Medical Malpractice

Example of medical malpractice

Medical malpractice can manifest in various ways, each with unique implications for the patient’s health and legal options. Recognizing these examples can help you understand if your experience might constitute malpractice.

Misdiagnosis and Delayed Diagnosis

Misdiagnosis or a delayed diagnosis can contribute to the wrong treatment, delayed care, or no treatment whatsoever, potentially causing harm or worsening the patient’s condition. This can happen when a healthcare provider neglects or misinterprets symptoms or test results. Patients who suffer as a result may have a valid malpractice claim.

Surgical and Treatment Errors

Surgical errors often include:

  • Operating on the incorrect body part.
  • Leaving tools inside a patient.
  • Performing the wrong procedure.

These mistakes can have devastating consequences, including long-term health issues or even death. Such errors are clear examples of medical malpractice.

Treatment errors may involve providing the wrong treatment for a patient’s condition, resulting in harm. This can also include errors in the dosage or type of medication administered. When treatment errors occur, they can delay recovery, cause new health issues, or exacerbate existing conditions, often leading to additional suffering and medical expenses.

Medication Mistakes

Medication mistakes are among the most common forms of medical malpractice. These can include prescribing the wrong medication, incorrect dosage, or failing to recognize harmful drug interactions. Such errors can lead to serious health complications, allergic reactions, or even death.

Pregnancy and Childbirth Complications

Complications during pregnancy and childbirth can lead to serious harm to both the mother and baby. Negligence can occur if a healthcare provider fails to recognize or properly address these complications. This can include failure to perform necessary cesarean sections, improper use of birthing tools, or failure to monitor the baby’s condition.

Evaluating the Impact on Your Life

The impact of medical malpractice can extend far beyond physical injuries. It can also lead to major emotional distress, financial strain due to lost wages and medical costs, and a decrease in quality of life. These effects are important considerations in any medical malpractice case.

The Role of Medical Records in Your Case

The role of medical recrods in your case

Medical records are vital in a medical malpractice case. They provide a detailed account of the patient’s treatment and condition. These records can help establish what standard of care was expected and whether there was a deviation that led to harm.

The Importance of Expert Witness Testimony

Expert witness testimony is often a key element of a medical malpractice lawsuit. Medical experts can help explain complex medical issues to the court and establish whether the standard of care was met. Their testimony can be crucial in proving both breach of duty and causation.

How to Seek Legal Advice

If you suspect you have been a victim of medical malpractice, seeking legal advice is an essential first step. An experienced medical malpractice attorney should review your case, collect evidence, and walk you through the legal process. They can also provide you with a realistic assessment of your chances for success.

Choosing the Right Medical Malpractice Attorney

  • Experience and Specialization. Opt for a lawyer who specializes in medical malpractice and boasts a track record of success in these cases. Their experience can provide invaluable insight and increase your chances of a favorable outcome.
  • Understanding and Compassion. Your lawyer should thoroughly understand the emotional and physical toll of medical malpractice. Look for someone who is compassionate and willing to listen to your concerns while providing strong legal support.
  • Resources and Expertise. A good medical malpractice attorney will have access to medical experts and resources necessary to build a strong case. They should be able to explain complex medical issues in a way that’s understandable to you and the court.
  • Communication. Your attorney should keep you informed throughout the process and be available to answer your questions. Clear, open communication is essential for a successful attorney-client relationship.
  • Fees and Costs. Understand how the lawyer charges for their time and services. Most medical malpractice lawyers work under a contingency fee agreement. This means they only get paid if you win your case. Ensure you are clear on any costs you may be responsible for.

What to Expect in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

  • Investigation. The initial phase involves gathering all relevant medical records and evidence and consulting with medical experts to evaluate the merits of your case.
  • Filing the Lawsuit. Once your attorney believes you have a solid case, they will submit a lawsuit on your behalf. This starts the legal process and sets deadlines for both sides to exchange information.
  • Discovery. During discovery, both sides will obtain evidence from each other. This includes document requests, depositions, and expert testimonies to build their respective cases.
  • Negotiations and Mediation. A considerable number of medical malpractice cases are settled without proceeding to trial. Your attorney will negotiate with the defendant’s lawyers to try to reach a fair settlement.
  • Trial. If a settlement cannot be reached, your case may go to trial. Here, both parties will present their evidence. Then, a judge or jury will make a final decision.

Call Conboy Law Today: Your Chicago Medical Malpractice Attorney

Call Conboy Law today_ your Chicago medical malpractice attorney

Conboy Law understands the challenges and complexities of medical malpractice cases. With years of experience and a dedicated team, we are committed to fighting for the rights of patients harmed by medical negligence. We believe in holding healthcare providers accountable and securing the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to arrange a free consultation with our office.

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