What is Professional Liability Law?
Medical malpractice cases allow the victims of professional negligence to hold the wrongdoer accountable for their actions. These cases are usually filed by initiating a lawsuit and going to court. Medical malpractice cases are based on state tort law.
Negligence occurs in these places when a professional breaches the "duty of care" or "standard of care." A Professional is anyone who engages in a profession but is not a doctor, including nurses, dentists, and chiropractors who are believed to attend holistically to a patient.
However, any medical professional can be sued in certain circumstances. Some cases allege that the patient is misdiagnosed, and others claim that there are rights violations during treatment. Victims and their families can file medical malpractice cases, but they usually involve a patient filing against a doctor.
Professional Liability Claims tend to fall into categories like mistakes or error claims, negligent acts, or misrepresentation claims.
A negligence claim usually results when a professional's careless actions harm the plaintiff. Professionals can be held accountable for their carelessness if they violated professional standards and care and if they owed the plaintiff a duty of care because of that professional relationship.
All professionals have a duty of care, but the degree of care they owe varies based on the profession. Professionals whose carelessness results in significant financial losses or physical harm are liable.
Duty to Implement Reasonable Practices
The law recognizes that no one is perfect, and mistakes are unavoidable. But the law does not tolerate a flippant or cavalier approach to other matters. The professional (or the professional's insurance company) must pay for the resulting damages if errors occur.
The reasonable standard of care in the relevant field must be met. There is a strong correlation between how competently a job is handled by the professional and the quality of the delivered result.
However, lawyers must be reasonably diligent in handling their cases or risk facing sanctions. This is common for lawyers who forget to serve subpoenas on witnesses vital to the case being tried. Those witnesses can be intentionally or inadvertently omitted from the subpoena list. This can cause significant problems for lawyers who neglect to follow a simple procedure.
The witness and the client were from the same small town, had once been members of the same church, had attended school, and had worked together at the same drugstore. They had even dated the same girl for a time before she married. The witness's grudge against the client dated back to that time and alienated the witness from the client. When the trial ended, the witness expressed no desire to testify.
Expert Evaluations, Consulting, and Testimony
Plaintiffs in a medical liability case must rely on experts to provide testimony. Without experts, the jury will not understand what or how medical professionals should have done their jobs. This is especially difficult in cases involving complicated medical techniques and procedures.
When a plaintiff in professional liability claims seeks to hold a defendant liable for losses or damages incurred, a choice between two types of proof is typically available:
The first is evidence from the defendant's industry. This type of evidence is used by plaintiffs in professional liability cases when all or a significant portion of the defendant's duties are related to some specialized skill or knowledge unique to the defendant.
Examples of this pursuable evidence include a list of the defendant's professional publications or lectures, the results of the defendant's journals, blog posts, or ezine articles, and testimony from the defendant's peers regarding the practices of the defendant's industry.
The second type of proof is evidence from the plaintiff's non-industry as a specialist. This type of evidence is employed by plaintiffs in professional liability claims when the relevant body of specialized knowledge is relatively uncommon, and the plaintiff has recognized academic qualifications related to the particular profession.
In this situation, the plaintiff may hire an individual with a recognized academic or professional background relevant to the matter and with experience explaining complex issues to lay audiences.
During the expert's deposition, the lawyer will ask the expert about an opinion formed on the plaintiff's behalf. The lawyer will then follow up with questions related to that opinion. Finally, the expert will be permitted to testify at trial, at which point the lawyer will ask the expert questions about their views on the plaintiff's behalf.