Personal injury medical malpractice is a situation in which an individual was injured or damaged as a result of a doctor's breach of his duty of care. When medical malpractice occurs and results in a personal injury, this is grounds for legal action within the United States. The matter is handled civilly, which means that generally no criminal charges are brought against the doctor, except in rare cases when the physician's actions rise to the level of so dangerous that they were almost certain to cause harm. Instead, the plaintiff who was injured by the negligent doctor files a personal injury medical malpractice action.
Doctors are held to a reasonable doctor standard. This means that a physician does not have to be perfect. He does, however, have to behave with the level of skill and competence that a reasonable physician would exhibit. This is true in terms of diagnosis, treatment and all aspects of care provided. The physician is also required to obtain informed consent before he provides treatment, which means he must tell the patient about the benefits, risks and alternatives so the patient can make an educated decision and either approve or deny the treatment.
If a doctor breaches his duty to obtain informed consent or he breaches his duty to live up to the reasonable doctor standard by performing less than adequate care, the victim of his activities can sue him. To prove the personal injury medical malpractice case, the plaintiff will have to prove this breach of duty and that he actually suffered or sustained damages.
Proof comes in the form of medical evidence and testimony by an expert witness. Often, one or more additional physicians are required to testify in proving a personal injury medical malpractice case. These physicians review the situation and provide data, information and opinion to the court in regards to whether the physician acted reasonably or not.
Even if the plaintiff proves the doctor breached his legal duty, he still must prove that this damaged him in order to recover for personal injury medical malpractice. For example, it may have been unreasonable for a physician not to diagnose his cancer, but if the cancer was diagnosed a day later by a different physician, he cannot sue because he suffered no actual damages as a result of the misdiagnosis. If, on the other hand, he wasn't diagnosed at all and the cancer spread throughout his body, then if he could prove the spread of the cancer resulted from the misdiagnosis, he could sue.