Offices in Ottawa and Perth
(613) 722-1500

CONTACT US (613) 722-1500

The Basics of a Medical Malpractice Case

The Basics of a Medical Malpractice Case

By:

Posted June 4, 2018

In order to be successful in a medical malpractice lawsuit you must establish each of the following things:

A doctor-patient relationship existed

You must show that you had a physician-patient relationship with the doctor or other medical practitioner you are making a claim against.

This means you requested treatment from the doctor and the doctor agreed to provide treatment. This means that you cannot sue a doctor you overheard giving advice at a social event. If a doctor saw you and began treating you, it is easy to establish that a doctor-patient relationship existed. Questions of whether or not the necessary relationship exists arise most frequently when a consulting physician did not treat you directly.

The doctor was negligent

Just because you are unhappy with your treatment, or the results, this does not mean that the doctor is automatically liable for medical malpractice. The doctor must have been negligent in your diagnosis or treatment. You must be able to show that the doctor caused you harm in a way that a competent doctor, under the same circumstances, would not have. Your doctor’s care is not required to be the “best possible”, but simply provided with “reasonable skill and care.” Whether the doctor was reasonably skillful and careful is often at the heart of a medical malpractice claim. The patient must have a medical expert who will establish the appropriate medical standard of care and show how the defendant doctor failed to meet that standard.

The doctor’s negligence caused the injury

Many malpractice cases involve patients who were already sick or injured when they were treated by the doctor who was alleged to be negligent. This means that there is frequently a question as to whether what the doctor did, even if it was negligent, caused the harm complained of. For example, if a patient dies after treatment for advanced cancer, and the doctor’s treatment was negligent, it could be hard to prove that the doctor’s negligence caused the death rather than the cancer. The patient must show that it is “more likely than not” that the doctor’s negligence caused the harm. Once again the patient may need a medical expert to testify that it was the doctor’s negligence that caused the injury.

The injury led to damages

Even if it is clear that the doctor was negligent, and that the negligence caused the harm, the patient cannot sue for malpractice if they didn’t suffer any harm. For example, if the patient makes a full recovery after some improper treatment there may be no damages to support a lawsuit. Here are examples of the types of damages patients can sue for:

  • physical pain,
  • mental anguish,
  • additional treatment expenses, and
  • lost work or lost earning capacity.

 Conclusion

Even though you are unhappy with the treatment you received, or its results, this does not mean that the doctor is liable for medical malpractice. Assuming you were in a doctor-patient relationship, you must still establish that the doctor failed to exercise “reasonable skill and care“, that this resulted in an injury, and that you suffered specific damages.

This blog post was written by Edward (Ted) Masters, a member of the Disability Insurance Claims and Personal Injury teams.  He can be reached at 613-566-2064 or at ted.masters@mannlawyers.com.

More Resources

Blog |
Wills, Trusts and Estates, Business Law, Real Estate
By: 

Posted May 28, 2024

The recent announcement from the Federal Government regarding an increase in the capital gains inclusion rate for individuals, trusts, and corporations has sparked significant discussion.[...]
Blog |
Family Law
By: 
When couples part ways, the shared ownership of a matrimonial home often becomes a contentious issue. In Ontario, the law recognizes two forms of co-ownership:[...]
Blog |
Real Estate
By: 
If you are purchasing a home in Ontario, you likely know that you should retain a real estate lawyer to close the transaction for you.[...]
Blog |
Wills, Trusts and Estates
By: 

Posted May 14, 2024

This is often a question that arises when someone dies with debts and the estate trustees  are at a loss as to what to do[...]
Blog |
Business Law
By: 

Posted May 9, 2024

Every story has to start somewhere. When buying or selling a business, the journey usually begins with a well drafted letter of intent. A letter of[...]
Blog |
Wills, Trusts and Estates
By: 

Posted April 23, 2024

In this day and age, social media is at the forefront of everything – it’s where people obtain news, it’s where people spend numerous hours[...]
Ted Masters

Ted Masters

My practice is focused on helping people who have been injured in car accidents or through medical negligence or who have been denied disability insurance benefits. With over 40 years of experience as a personal injury lawyer, I understand how a serious injury or denial of disability benefits affects not just my individual client, but their entire family. I am alert to each client’s individual physical, emotional and financial needs and challenges. I work to achieve an outcome that is client focussed. As a trained mediator, I understand that my client’s personal goals must be met in order to come to a satisfactory resolution of their case, preferably through a reasonable settlement, but by trial judgement if necessary. Although assisting individuals has been the focal point of my legal career, my clients get the benefit of my wide range of litigation experience including disability claims, intellectual property litigation, commercial disputes, Indian... Read More

Read More About Ted Masters

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

"*" indicates required fields

Name*
Consent*
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.