Proving Medical Malpractice

In order to win a medical malpractice case, you must prove medical malpractice. Proving medical malpractice can be a challenge. Three specific points must be clearly proven. These are:


To prove a doctor was negligent the patient must prove that the doctor did something that a reasonably good doctor would not have done or failed to do something a reasonably competent doctor would have done in a particular situation. It only requires that they act within the standard of care expected of such doctors with similar training and experience in the same or similar communities. Unlike most other negligence cases, for the patient to prove a doctor has been negligent, the patient ordinarily must present expert testimony from another, similar doctor to prove the standard of care expected of the negligent doctor, how the doctor violated that standard of care and the injuries and damages that the doctor’s negligence caused.

Proximate Cause

To recover, it is not enough for the patient to prove that the doctor treated him negligently. The patient must also prove that he sustained injuries as a direct or proximate result of the doctor’s negligence. Ordinarily, the connection between the doctor’s negligence and the patient’s injuries must also be proved by the expert testimony of a doctor.


Finally, the patient must prove the extent and scope of his injuries, the cost of those injuries in medical treatments, lost wages and lost enjoyment of life, and how those injuries have changed his life. This too must be proved by expert testimony from a doctor.

The Burden of Proof

The burden of proof for proving that the doctor did something negligent is always upon the patient. This requires the patient, by the use of expert testimony, to prove to the jury by the greater weight of evidence that the doctor was negligent and caused injury to the patient. If the patient fails to prove each of the elements of his case to the satisfaction of each juror, he will lose his medical malpractice case.

Expert Testimony

No patient can win a medical negligence case unless his lawyer can find a doctor to testify against the negligent doctor or hospital. This is difficult to do, because doctors are hesitant to testify against each other.

Doctors are even less likely to testify against their fellow doctors in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee because of the small size of their professional community, their desire to obtain referrals from one another and the fact that many are insured by the same insurance company. Therefore, it is often difficult to obtain an expert to testify against another doctor. Usually, an attorney representing a client hurt by a doctor must go outside the state to find a qualified doctor who is willing to testify against the defendant doctor.

In Tennessee, finding a doctor to testify can be more difficult due to a strict locality rule for medical malpractice claims, sometimes referred to as the “contiguous state” requirement, placing a geographic limit on the doctor that can be used to testify in support of your case. Unless waived by the trial judge, Tennessee law requires the doctor to be licensed to practice and to actually practice in Tennessee or a bordering state during the year before your injury.

Whether you were injured in Raleigh, Durham, Charlotte, Fayetteville or elsewhere in North Carolina, the medical malpractice attorneys at Merritt Webb are anxious to aggressively represent your interests and ensure you receive just compensation for your injuries and losses. As a regional law firm we are able to take on the powerful medical community and their insurance companies. If you need our help with a potential medical malpractice matter, call us at 1.800.556.8404.

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