Written by attorney Joseph M. Lichtenstein

When the Patient Is Blamed in a Medical Malpractice Case

Were you injured because of the negligence of a doctor, nurse, or hospital? In order to be able to pay for the necessary medical treatments to regain your health, you will probably find yourself in need of monetary assistance. In many cases, filing a medical malpractice claim can help in this regards, but there are many complications which could arise on the way, including allegations of comparative and contributory negligence.

Every year, people suffer without need because of the negligent actions of a doctor or other medical professional. Victims of medical malpractice often need compensation so that they are able to pay for further medical treatment in order to recover. However, these victims need to be aware that the insurance company or medical organization in question may attempt to blame the harm suffered on the patient rather than the doctor. If you believed that you had a medical malpractice case but now the tables are being turned on you, you need a strong legal representative on your side upholding your rights. Whether or not you are able to secure compensation and receive justice will be entirely dependent on the outcome of your case, so you need to make every effort to have the best chance of success.

This turning of the tables is the attempt of the doctor or hospital to prove comparative or contributory negligence. When a medical malpractice lawsuit is brought against a medical professional, the plaintiff is attempting to prove that they suffered damages as a direct result of the doctor’s negligence. This negligence is any wandering away from the accepted guidelines of medical practice and expert testimony is usually brought in. However, in an effort to defend themselves and avoid paying the victim any monetary compensation, they may place the responsibility of the patient’s injuries on the patient. They may say that the patient suffered because of their own actions, not the doctor’s negligence.

In order to prove negligence on the part of the patient, there are several common allegations which can be thrown at them. The first is that they did not provide an accurate health history before the diagnosis or treatment. The doctor may say that if they knew about a certain illness or surgery in their past they would have adjusted the treatment. They may also claim that the patient did not follow instructions. In cases where the patient suffered from post-operative complications, they may purport that it was not the doctor’s fault, but the patient’s for not following instructions correctly. Another common allegation is that the patient lied about the severity of the damages they suffered as well as how they received the injuries. They may even say that the patient did things which exacerbated the condition in some way.

If it is proven that the patient in some way contributed to their own hurt, whether or not they are able to receive any compensation will depend on the state they live in. In a state that operates under pure contributory negligence (including Alabama, Maryland, and North Carolina), if it was shown that the patient contributed to their illness in any way, they will not be able to recover any damages for what they went through. However, if you live in a pure comparative negligence state (such as New York, Florida, and Louisiana), the court will try to determine how much of the patient’s injuries were their fault. For example, if the patient was 40% to blame for their own injuries and the doctor was 60% to blame, the patient will be entitled to 60% of the compensation that they would have received for the injury. It is therefore very important that you understand what the laws are in your state and have a strong medical malpractice attorney on your side throughout the entire process. The other side will obviously attempt to place as much of the blame that is possible on you.

Additional resources provided by the author

Talk to the Law Offices of Joseph M. Lichtenstein, P.C. if you were the victim of medical malpractice in New York. They have over 60 years of combined experience in this area of law and will fight tirelessly to see that your rights are protected. The team of New York malpractice lawyers at their firm has already secured their clients millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements. They also offer a free case evaluation so that you can tell them about the details of your case completely free of charge. Contact a New York medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible so that you have a strong advocate on your side.

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