“I Think My Doctor was Negligent, What Do I Need to Prove?”

Clients are often surprised to learn that suing a doctor is not clear-cut. The first step in any lawsuit is to establish that the defendant is liable; however, in medical malpractice cases it is not as simple as proving a mistake was made. To establish that a doctor was negligent, there are two aspects of a claim.

The first step is to prove that a doctor fell below the standard of care. That is, a doctor made a mistake that other doctors with the same specialty and the same training would not have made. To prove that, it is imperative to obtain a medical-legal opinion from a doctor in the same field that could comment on how that particular doctor fell below the standard expected from similar doctors. For instance, if a family doctor fails to take the appropriate steps to investigate a cancer diagnosis in a timely manner, the plaintiff will want to retain an experienced family doctor to comment on what a family doctor should have done and how the defendant doctor fell below the standard.

The second step in the process, and often the most challenging, is establishing causation. A plaintiff must prove that the injury or death would not have occurred if the defendant doctor met the standard of care. This tends to be the most difficult aspect in a medical malpractice claim. To investigate this, it is important to obtain a medical-legal opinion from a doctor that is in a position to comment on the issue. Using the example above, it would be important to have an opinion from an oncologist on whether promptly investigating a cancer diagnosis would have led to a different outcome. In unfortunate cases, a plaintiff may be in the same position they would have been in even if the defendant doctor fell below the standard of care.

If you think your doctor may have been negligent, the Personal Injury Lawyers at Oatley Vigmond may be able to help.

About the Authors

Merella is committed to advocating on behalf of people who have suffered serious personal injuries. She understands that the complexity of the insurance system can be intimidating for clients, and wants to make the process as easy as possible for them. Merella first joined Oatley Vigmond as an articling student in 2017, becoming an associate after being called to the bar in 2018. Merella obtained her law degree from the University of Windsor and an Honours B.A. in Philosophy and Criminology from York University. In her spare time, Merella enjoys exercising, travelling, and reading. Merella is fluent in Arabic.

To learn more about Merella, please click here.