Causation And Damages In A Medical Malpractice Case
Proving causation is a huge step in being able to establish liability in a medical malpractice case. In order for there to be a medical malpractice case there absolutely must be causation. Seeking damages where a doctor is completely liable is a complex endeavor. This is due to the fact that the acts are directly tied to causation and whether or not a doctor or healthcare provider was negligent.
If the doctor or other medical provider owed a duty to the patient and the doctor breached the duty owed to the patient, then the next question that must be answered is if the act caused the patient’s injuries. To establish complete liability, there must be a chain of causation initiated by some negligent act or omission against the doctor, hospital, or other healthcare professional. This element is often straight-forward but can be complicated by patients that have comorbidities or other illness that could have caused or contributed to the patient’s death or injury, or where there are multiple negligent medical providers whose negligence causes a single injury. Or even more complex is when there is a successive tortfeasor involved.
The jury instructions define cause as follows:
An [act] [or] [omission] [or] [(condition)] is a “cause” of [injury] [harm] [(other)] if [, unbroken by an independent intervening cause,] it contributes to bringing about the [injury] [harm] [(other) ] [, and if injury would not have occurred without it].
It need not be the only explanation for the [injury] [harm] [ (other) ], nor the reason that is nearest in time or place. It is sufficient if it occurs in combination with some other cause to produce the result. To be a “cause”, the [act] [or] [omission] [or] [ (condition) ], nonetheless, must be reasonably connected as a significant link to the [injury] [harm].
Causation and damages go hand in hand when it comes to a medical malpractice suit. With strong causation you can more easily prove damages did occur. Without causation, you are going to have little evidence to argue injury was a result and thus have little in the way of damages. It’s important to understand that an injury must be the result of an intervening cause and if the injury did not occur without it then there is a lack of a connection to develop a case.