How Duty of Care Affects Medical Negligence Claims

medical negligence claims

All medical professionals from physicians to nurses to surgeons owe a duty of care to their patients. The duty of care is defined as a duty to provide medical care at a level reasonably expected of any competent medical professional under a certain set of circumstances. When a health care provider fails to meet that duty, they have deviated from the accepted standard of care through a negligent act or omission (failure to act). When patients are injured as a result of negligent care and suffer damages such as additional medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages; medical negligence claims may be an appropriate way to seek justice.

If you or a loved one may have been injured as a result of a deviation from the accepted standard of care, contact a medical malpractice lawyer to discuss your legal rights. The statute of limitations on most medical malpractice claims in Washington State is three years after the medical negligence that caused the injury or one year after the victim discovered or should have discovered the error that caused their injury. It is in your interest to contact an injury lawyer as soon as possible.

What is Duty of Care in a Medical Negligence Claim?

In tort law for medical negligence, a duty of care is a legal obligation that is imposed on all medical professionals that requires them to meet a standard of reasonable care to their patients. The duty of care is the first element that must be established to proceed with an action in negligence.

If a medical practitioner fails in this duty and the patient is injured because of this failure, there may be a legitimate case to pursue a medical negligence claim against the health care provider or hospital that provided treatment.

A competent medical negligence lawyer will be familiar with the laws in your state and take the time to understand your injuries and what caused them. If you agree to work together, the malpractice lawyer will build your case around four common elements:

  1. That you were a patient of the medical provider and that they therefore owed you a duty of care.
  2. That there was a breach of that duty of care. (The care provided did not meet the accepted standard of care).
  3. Your injury was caused by the breach of duty of care. (A direct link will be established).
  4. You suffered damages as a result of your injuries such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering significant enough to warrant a medical malpractice suit.

Much evidence will be gathered to prove each of the four elements and independent medical experts will be consulted to provide evidence of the link between the negligent care received and the resulting injuries.

Types of duties of care owed to patients

There are several types of duties of care owed to patients, including:

  • Taking into account a patient’s full medical history
  • Taking a patient’s complaints and symptoms seriously
  • Making an appropriate diagnosis, ordering tests to confirm a diagnosis, or referring the patient to a specialist for diagnosis
  • Providing reasonable treatment and treatment options including appropriate prescription drugs
  • Following up with test results in a timely manner

A failure to meet any of these duties can lead to common medical negligence claims such as failure to diagnose, delayed diagnosis, prescription drug errors, or failure to discuss treatment options and impact of treatment.

Many medical negligence cases stem from a breach of a duty of care to a patient. If you believe that you were seriously injured and suffered losses as a result of negligent care, we urge you to contact us for a free consultation.

The Seattle Personal Injury Lawyers You Want on Your Side

The personal injury attorneys at Tinker Law Firm have been winning birth injury, medical malpractice, and personal injury cases for individuals and their loved ones in Seattle and across Washington State since 1974. We seek justice for injury victims who have been harmed by preventable medical errors, and the negligent or abusive actions of another. Our clients pay no fees or expenses to file a personal injury claim; our firm advances out-of-pocket expenses and is only reimbursed when we recover a settlement on your behalf. Do not delay; personal injury claims in Washington State have a statute of limitations, which means they must be filed within a certain time from the date of the injury.

Call us now at 206-842-1000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled and experienced injury attorneys.