In the heat of passionate public discourse, discussion about medical malpractice lawsuits and the role of the judicial system is often distorted. Many are left with the inaccurate perception that all doctors are constantly facing unjustified suits. Others believe that if only rights were taken away from those filing these legal actions then healthcare costs would be lowered and everything related to access to proper medical care would be cured.
These are all inaccurate.
Most medical malpractice lawyers understand the importance of keeping these debates in context. For one thing, research continues to show that for each physician, facing a medical malpractice suit is a very rare occurrence. Many never deal with one, even fewer ever pay out because of one of these suits, and only a few face multiple accusations. Instead, the legal justice system is used less than most believe. As one recent letter published by Boston News explained, the misconceptions that continue to permeate in some communities about these issues may stem from a misunderstanding about what these lawsuits mean.
Medical malpractice lawsuits are almost always rooted in the legal principle of negligence. Anyone can be found guilty of negligence, and the term simply means that one does not act as a reasonable person wound in the same circumstances. In the medical malpractice context this is generally adapted to be a somewhat objective standard comparing the conduct of the doctor in question to a reasonably prudent doctor in the same area. Therefore, these cases usually are not based on claims of intentional misconduct as some believe but unreasonable mistakes.
This is the same basic legal principle applied to all community members in their day-to-day activities. When someone drivers a car from their home to the grocery store they are held to standard of a reasonably prudent person when behind the wheel. That means that if they act in a way that violates the standard-such as going too fast for conditions-and they cause another harm (causing an accident), they will he held civilly liable for the damage that results. This is the same reasoning applied in the medical context-no more and no less. It would be strange indeed if medical professionals were held to a lower standard than citizens engaging in everyday actions.
When a suit is filed against a doctor they will always be given the opportunity to explain why they acted the way that they did. At that time they can explain why they believe their actions were not unreasonable in the circumstances. If a jury agrees with their position, then there will be no liability.
Our Illinois medical malpractice attorneys know that the majority of medical professionals act in fair and reasonable ways the vast majority of the time. Our work, however, only involves those cases where mistakes were made that caused victims harm. When that occurs we help those victims who have suffered often debilitating losses seek compensation and recovery for their conduct. At the same time these suits act as an incentive for some health facilities to make important changes to ensure mistakes do not occur repeatedly.
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