Causation an important issue in medical malpractice litigation

In our last post, we began speaking about a medical malpractice case in which the family of a man who died of cancer is suing a physician who failed to detect the presence of cancer. The family is claiming that the physician’s negligence meets the causation requirement because the man lost the opportunity to receive treatment that would have likely extended his life a number of months. On the defense side, the argument is that the man’s death was in sight, and that the factor of causation was therefore not satisfied.

The issue of causation can be an important one in medical malpractice litigation, not only when there is a dispute about the proper test for causation but also when there are multiple factors contributing to a patient’s injuries.  These multiple factors can potentially include not only the actions of the physician, but also the actions or omissions of other healthcare providers, as well as the patient’s own condition.Â

Another important factor with causation is the burden of proof. Establishing causation in a medical malpractice case can be made more complicated by the language that is sometimes used around the issue.  For plaintiffs, the requirement in medical malpractice litigation is to demonstrate that it is more likely than not that the accused physician caused the plaintiff’s injuries. This is the ordinary civil standard, and it is important that plaintiffs build their case in a way that effectively maintains that burden of proof rather than unintentionally increases it. Â

Of course, any medical malpractice plaintiff is going to have a better shot at building a strong case if the plaintiff works with an experienced and knowledgeable advocate. The first step, then, is to secure the right advocate, and then build the strongest case possible.Â



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