Our readers in West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky may know already that medical malpractice claims are notoriously difficult to pursue. But, that doesn’t mean that such claims shouldn’t be aggressively pursued when a victim’s life has been turned upside down by the negligent or reckless conduct of a medical professional. Our readers may benefit from understanding some of the basics of a medical malpractice claim.

Although the facts and details of a medical malpractice case can be considerably more complicated due to the various medical terms involved and the need for expert witnesses, the fact is that the basic structure of a medical malpractice claim is very similar to other personal injury claims. Victims must prove the following elements: “duty”; “breach”; “cause”; and “damages.” Those four words will be heard over and over again in any personal injury lawsuit, including medical malpractice cases.

The “duty” element refers to one party owing a duty of care to another party. So, for example, in a medical malpractice case, the medical professional owes a “duty” to the patient as a result of a doctor-patient relationship. This element is usually the easiest part to prove in a medical malpractice case.

Next, the injured party must prove that the duty that existed was “breached” by the negligent or reckless conduct of the medical professional, and that said “breach” was the cause of the injured party’s injuries or worsened condition. These elements are the heart of any medical malpractice claim, and the fight over proving these elements can be hotly contested. Lastly, in a medical malpractice case a victim must be able to prove “damages,” as in how, in monetary terms, the medical malpractice that occurred has actually impacted the victim’s life.