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Proving causation in medical malpractice lawsuits in California

On Behalf of | Jan 11, 2023 | Personal Injury, Surgical Error

When filing a medical malpractice claim in California, there are four legal elements that you must prove: the hospital or the healthcare professional owed you a duty of care, they breached that duty, an injury occurred as a result, and your life was directly affected by that injury. Often, the hardest thing to prove is the breach of duty (what solicitors term as causation), yet it is the pivotal part of the lawsuit.

Understanding causation

Causation in medical malpractice claims is the legal term to explain why the injury occurred. To prove causation, you must show that a particular event or action of the hospital or healthcare practitioner did caused your injury and not some other factor such as pre-existing conditions, heredity, lifestyle choices, etc.

Establishing causation

In a medical malpractice case, establishing causation involves showing that mistakes made by the healthcare professional (or hospital) caused harm or worsened your condition. There are various types of evidence used to prove this, including medical records, lab test results, and testimonies from experts or former patients who have experienced similar issues with that particular doctor or hospital. You must also provide evidence that the injury was not caused by anything else.

Reasons why proving causation may be a challenge

There are situations where there are multiple factors involved in your injury. For example, if the doctor prescribed two drugs for your condition, and one of them caused an adverse reaction that injured you, it can be difficult to pinpoint which drug was the direct cause. This is especially true in cases where both drugs have the same side effects.

Additionally, cases that involve advanced medical interventions such as surgery or radiation therapy can also be more challenging to prove causation since these treatments come with inherent risks even when done correctly. The court will often consider how likely it was for the injury to occur, regardless of any negligence.

Proving causation in medical malpractice cases can be challenging, but with evidence and expert testimony, it is possible to demonstrate why injuries occurred as a result of negligence on behalf of physicians or hospitals. It is, therefore, important for those filing malpractice claims to gather as much information and evidence as possible to make their case.