How to Prove Medical Malpractice

Categories: Medical Malpractice

How to Prove Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice happens when a patient sustains injuries due to a medical professional’s negligence. Thousands of people entrust their lives to doctors and hospitals every day across the state. When a medical professional makes a mistake that causes a patient harm, it can result in life-threatening injuries. Understandably, potential clients might be unaware of how to prove medical malpractice. But knowing what to do is critical to getting the compensation you deserve when you suffer from another person’s negligent acts.

Contact the skilled Washington medical malpractice lawyers at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner today if you need assistance proving medical malpractice.

Who Is Liable for Your Injuries in a Malpractice Claim?

Before pursuing a claim for medical malpractice, you must identify all potentially responsible parties. In some cases, naming all defendants is straightforward. In other instances, it can be far more complex. Fortunately, your lawyer will take the lead and help you identify all defendants. It’s common to name multiple defendants in med-mal claims, even ones you didn’t think were connected to your case.

Depending on the circumstances of your claim, potential defendants include medical professionals and facilities, such as:

  • Doctors,
  • Registered nurses,
  • Dentists,
  • Chiropractors,
  • Nurse practitioners,
  • Physician assistants,
  • Licensed therapists,
  • Licensed dental hygienists,
  • Pharmacists,
  • Emergency medical technicians,
  • Physical therapists,
  • Clinical psychologists,
  • Optometrists,
  • Podiatrists,
  • Hospitals, and
  • Urgent care facilities.

This list is not exhaustive. Many occupations falling under the category of healthcare providers are not strictly doctors in an office or facility. That’s why it’s crucial to identify all possible defendants.

How to Prove a Medical Malpractice Case?

Proving negligence in medical malpractice cases requires plaintiffs to meet four main criteria. Because medical malpractice cases are some of the most complex claims, having ample evidence is crucial. Read on for the four main criteria in a medical malpractice negligence claim.

Doctor-Patient Relationship

The first element in a medical malpractice claim is likely the easiest to prove, but it’s essential. You need to establish there’s a doctor-patient relationship. If the doctor were treating you in an office or hospital facility, you would meet the burden of proof. But asking a doctor about a suspicious mole on your arm at a social gathering is not enough to establish a doctor-patient relationship.

Breach of Duty

The second element in a medical malpractice claim is evidence of substandard medical care. You need to show that the medical professional breached an established duty of care by acting in a way that doesn’t fit how other medical professionals would’ve behaved. What this means is you must show the care received falls outside the scope of accepted medical standards.

This element is the center of your case, which means you likely need expert witnesses to testify on your behalf. Other medical professionals can attest to what a reasonable person with similar experience and training would’ve done in the situation. Expert witnesses can also discuss other aspects of your treatment that fell below the standard.


Causation is the link between the doctor’s negligence and your injuries. You must show that the substandard care led to your injuries. The plan here is to show that your injuries were not caused by another accident or incident outside the doctor’s control or an underlying health condition.


The final element of medical malpractice is damages. You must have proof of the damages you incurred due to the malpractice. Damages are your losses, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and your pain and suffering.

What Happens If You’re Partially at Fault for Your Injuries?

Washington is one of only a handful of states that recognizes pure comparative negligence. That means you can be partially responsible and still receive some compensation—even if you’re primarily liable. However, your percentage of fault will reduce your overall damages. If you are found to be 25% at fault, you will receive 75% of your damages. If you’re 75% at fault, you will only receive 25%.

Why You Need a Washington Medical Malpractice Lawyer to Represent You

You might be wondering why you need to hire a lawyer to represent you if you can prove the elements of negligence independently. Hiring an experienced lawyer can mean the difference between getting compensation for your injuries or getting nothing at all. Do you know how to prove a medical malpractice claim? What evidence do you need, and how do you negotiate on your behalf? And what about allocating fault?

When you hire a lawyer at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, we will be there for you every step of the way. We start by conducting a thorough independent investigation to gather and preserve all evidence supporting your claims of medical negligence.

You must prove negligence by a preponderance of the evidence. That means you must present proof that the negligent action was more likely than not the cause of the injury. It can be a complicated process, which is why we often rely on medical experts who can confirm whether they believe the doctor’s actions are negligent.

Doctors, hospitals, and other medical professionals will fight vigorously against malpractice claims. These claims can raise their insurance premiums and may result in disciplinary action by the medical board. Because of this, don’t assume the defendant’s insurance company will offer to settle. Your case may wind up in litigation before it resolves.

Your case might not go to trial, but filing a lawsuit is very likely. You need a lawyer who isn’t afraid to take your case to trial if necessary. Some personal injury law firms are more concerned about resolving claims as quickly as possible so they can move on to the next. We will never push to settle a claim early on, unless it’s in our client’s best interest.

Contact a Washington Medical Malpractice Lawyer

When you have questions about how to prove medical malpractice, speak with a member of our team right away. Our skilled malpractice lawyers have 50 years of experience helping injured victims recover compensation from negligent medical professionals and facilities. We know how challenging these cases can be, which is why we want to help. Medical professionals shouldn’t get away with harming patients.

If you or someone you love is the victim of medical negligence, contact the Washington medical malpractice lawyers at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner today. Schedule an initial consultation, and let us help you determine the best course of legal action against the medical professionals who wronged you.

Author Photo

Matt Conner

Matt Conner has a proven track record of success. Following his graduation from Willamette University with a double major in mathematics and economics, Matt worked as an economist for the Office of Economic Analysis for the State of Oregon before moving onto working in mortgage banking and real estate.