New Brunswick Medical Malpractice Lawyers: The Standard of Care in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
How Careless Must a Doctor or Nurse Be to Trigger Liability for Malpractice?
When you seek medical attention because of an injury or illness, you expect that, at a minimum, your condition won’t worsen because of the carelessness or negligence of a medical professional. Unfortunately, it happens all too often–a missed diagnosis, a surgical mistake, an error involving medication or anesthesia.
When you seek damages for injuries caused by medical malpractice, the lawsuit is almost always based on a legal theory of negligence. The legal concept of negligence starts with the assumption that all members of society have a duty to act as a reasonable person would. When you are driving down the road, it is expected that you will drive reasonably–that you won’t exceed the speed limit by a substantial amount, that you will obey traffic laws, that you will watch out for others on the road.
The same concept applies in situations involving medical treatment. The doctor or nurse who treats you is expected to meet a certain standard of performance in his or her duties. However, because of the special training and experience a doctor or nurse receives, and because of the potentially serious consequences if a doctor or nurse does not take reasonable steps in the performance of his or her duties, the standard against which a doctor or nurse will be held in a medical malpractice claim is higher than that of an ordinary citizen (driving a car, maintaining property, etc.).
In a medical malpractice lawsuit, the jury must look at the conduct of the defendant and determine whether it was:
- Of the level and type that a reasonably competent professional would have provided,
- Assuming that the professional worked in the same geographic location and had similar training,
- And further assuming that the situation the medical professional faced was similar to the one examined
As a practical matter, juries don’t have the ability, without expert testimony, to determine what an appropriate medical standard would be. Accordingly, the standard to which a defendant will be compared in a medical negligence trial is customarily established through the testimony or medical experts.
Contact the New Jersey Medical Malpractice Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr
At the office of Harold J. Gerr, Attorney at Law, we have fought for the rights of personal injury victims in central New Jersey for more than four decades. We carefully choose the cases we handle, so that we can provide the highest levels of service and personal attention to each client. We are also happy to take over your case, if your first lawyer does not seem to have your best interests in mind.