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Proving negligence in your medical malpractice claim

On Behalf of | Oct 4, 2022 | Medical Malpractice

If you are a victim of medical malpractice in New York, you know what a traumatic experience it can be. You may face short- or long-term injuries that are costly to treat, as well as missed time off work, causing you more financial troubles.

Another sad consequence of medical malpractice is it can make you fear or mistrust medical professionals in the future. Our doctors are supposed to care about us and help us get better, and when we feel like they haven’t done that, it results in hurt or angry feelings.

The four elements of negligence

A medical malpractice claim is commonly filed against a doctor, nurse or hospital. A successful medical malpractice claim requires that you prove negligence.

Proving negligence involves four elements:

  • Duty of care
  • Breach of duty
  • Causation
  • Damages

Duty and breach

People working in the medical field owe a duty of care to their patients. This means they have a legal duty to provide you with the treatment expected of someone in their profession.

You must prove that the duty of care was breached and that the breach caused your injury. There are two types of cause: actual cause and proximate cause.

Actual cause

Actual cause is exactly what it sounds like. It refers to what actually caused your injury. For example, if your doctor prescribed you the wrong medication, the wrong medication prescription is the actual cause of your injury.

 Proximate cause

The effects that you experience from taking the wrong medication are the proximate cause resulting from the breach. For example, if you have a seizure after taking the wrong medication that requires an emergency room visit and tests such as an MRI, those events are the proximate cause of the breach.

The effects must be foreseeable. In the above example, if you took the wrong medication and then someone assaults you on the street, that is not a foreseeable effect of taking the wrong medication.


The last thing you must prove is damages. These can include medical bills, lost wages and mental and emotional distress, which there is usually plenty of after experiencing medical malpractice.

Every medical malpractice case is different. Having the advice and guidance of a professional can increase your chance of prevailing with your claim.


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