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Malpractice Definition


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Medical malpractice is identified as when a doctor or medical expert puts a patient through negligent actions that result in an injury or death. Negligence could come from a variety of actions, such as improper diagnosis or treatment. To legally qualify under medical malpractice, the claim must include:

  • Violation of the standard of care. There is a specific medical standard that medical experts must follow. Patients are given the right to expect that their doctors will make medical decisions accordingly to those standards. If the standards have not been reached, then negligence may arise.
  • Negligence caused injury. For a medical malpractice claim to take place, there are two requirements that need to be met:
    The doctors must violate the standard of care.
    The patient must show proof that their injury occurred due to the negligence of the doctors.
    Both of these requirements must be met in order for the situation to qualify as medical malpractice. If the victim fails to provide any proof that their injury was caused because of the decisions made by the doctors, there will be no case.
  • Victim suffered serious damages because of the injury. Since pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit is very expensive, there should be a substantial amount of damages caused to pursue this case. For small cases, it is not worth it. You will spend more on the case compared to the recovery damages you may receive if you win.

Patients are expected to show injuries that led to:
  • Loss of income,
  • Emotional distress,
  • Pain and suffering, or
  • Current and future medical bills.

Examples Of Medical Malpractice


There are various scenarios of medical malpractice that may lead to lawsuits being brought forth. These include:

  • Inability to diagnose a patient.
  • Misdiagnosing a patient.
  • Incorrectly reading lab results
  • Intentionally ignoring lab results.
  • Incapable of properly ordering the right lab tests.
  • Failure to notice the patient's symptoms.
  • Incorrect medication or medication dosage.
  • Errors made during surgery.
  • Lack of proper follow-up or aftercare.
  • Assigning surgeries that are not needed.
  • Not taking patient histories too seriously.

There are other scenarios where medical malpractice does not apply. These include:

  • Patient’s condition is worsening. A doctor is not held liable over a patient’s condition getting worse during their treatment course. The doctor can provide the appropriate medication or surgery for the illness the patient is going through. However, if the patient’s body is not responding, then it is not the doctor’s fault. As long as the doctor showed reasonable care towards the patient, then no medical malpractice claim can be brought against them.
  • Patient's condition is not treatable. There are illnesses or health problems that do not have available treatments to help the patient recover. If a doctor is able to make the correct diagnosis and offers ideas on how to proceed with the patient’s care, then it is not considered as medical malpractice.

Available Damages


Accidents happen. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Below is a brief explanation of damages. Damages are a type of monetary award that is determined by a court of law to help compensate an aggrieved individual for any losses or injuries sustained as a result of someone’s negligence.

Economic Damages
Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out of pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries.
A few examples of economic losses include:

  • Loss of Earning Capacity
  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages

Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out of pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:

  • Emotional Distress
  • Pain And Suffering
  • Loss Of Enjoyment Of Life

Punitive Damages
The third type of damages a California court may award are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are relatively rare and in fact were only incorporated in 5% of all verdicts.
Furthermore, there is no real set standard for calculating and awarding punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded at the court’s discretion and will vary depending on the specific circumstances of a case.

Limitations For Damages In California
For the most part, there is no real cap on compensatory damages following a personal injury claim. This means that courts are able to award any amount they feel is appropriate and reasonable.However, the only exception is regarding medical malpractice cases. In these cases, the limit for pain and suffering and other non economic losses is $250,000.

Contact Us
If your loved one was a victim of wrongful death due to the negligence of a doctor, nurse, or hospital, West Coast Trial Lawyers has experienced wrongful death attorneys that will get you the justice you deserve. Our attorneys will help you recover financial and emotional compensation for damages such as emotional distress, property damage, lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation at our firm. No fees are paid until your case is settled. Reach out to our legal team 24/7 by calling (213) 927-3700 or emailing [email protected].

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