7 Factors That Affect the Outcome of Medical Malpractice Claims

Every day, doctors and medical professionals work hard to keep us healthy. They are trained to provide the best care possible. However, sometimes mistakes happen, and these can lead to serious health problems. When medical mistakes cause harm, people might think about filing a medical malpractice claim, which means they might take legal action against a doctor or hospital. 

But to understand the success of these legal claims, it’s crucial to know the key factors that play a role. Here, we’ll look at some important factors that can shape the outcome of a medical malpractice claim so you may be prepared for what’s to come and what to avoid.

1. Medical Negligence

Let’s understand with the example of cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy, often shortened to CP, is a condition that affects movement and muscle tone. It is usually caused by brain damage that happens before or during a child’s birth. In some cases, this brain damage can result from mistakes made by doctors or nurses during delivery.

Now, imagine a situation where a baby’s oxygen supply gets cut off for a short time during birth. It could be because of a delay in performing a necessary c-section or misuse of medical tools. Such mistakes might result in the baby developing CP. Parents might then wonder, can you sue for cerebral palsy?

The answer is yes. If a doctor’s or nurse’s mistake leads to a child developing CP, the parents can file a medical malpractice claim. They can seek money to help with the child’s medical bills and other needs. To win the claim, parents will need to show that the medical team’s care was below standard and that this led to the child’s CP.

2. Expert Testimony and its Influence

In a courtroom, there are people who understand medicine and those who don’t. For many jurors and judges, medical details can be confusing. That’s where expert testimony comes in. An expert is someone with special knowledge about a subject. In medical malpractice claims, this person is usually another doctor or medical professional.

These experts play a huge role. They help explain the medical side of cases. They can say if the care given was acceptable or not. For example, in the CP case, an expert might explain how the delivery mistakes led to the brain damage. They can make matters clear for everyone in the courtroom.

If a person bringing a claim has a strong expert to support them, their chances of winning can go up. On the other hand, if there’s no expert or if the expert isn’t convincing, it can hurt the claim.

3. The Plaintiff’s Medical History

When someone files a medical malpractice claim, their health history becomes an open book, which means that everything about their past health can be looked at. Why? It helps decide if the doctor’s mistake really caused the problem.

Let’s go back to the CP example. Suppose the baby had other health issues before or during birth. These issues might also cause CP. The hospital might say, “It wasn’t our mistake. The baby’s other health problems caused the CP.”

That’s why the person’s or baby’s medical history is important. It can either support the claim or make it harder to prove. It’s like a puzzle, and all the pieces need to fit to show the full picture.

4. The Quality of Medical Documentation

In hospitals, doctors and nurses write down everything they do for patients. These notes are like a list of everything that happened to the patient.

In a medical malpractice claim, these notes are super important. They show what the medical team did and when they did it. Good, clear notes can help a doctor show they did everything right. On the other hand, missing or unclear notes might raise questions. Did the doctor forget to do something? Why wasn’t it written down? 

Proper medical documentation can support doctors and hospitals when they say they did a good job. But if the notes are not clear, it can make things tough for them.

5. The Competence of Legal Representation

Filing a medical malpractice claim is a big deal. It’s like a soccer match where both teams want to win. To have a good chance at winning, you need a good coach. In legal cases, this coach is the lawyer.

Some lawyers know a lot about medical malpractice. They have learned all the rules of this game and know how to play well. Choosing a lawyer who knows about medical issues and how to talk about them in court is key. They can explain things in a way that makes sense and helps the person filing the claim.

If someone picks a lawyer who doesn’t know much about medical malpractice, it can be like having a coach who doesn’t know soccer. The team might not play as well, and they might not win the match.

6. Statute of Limitations

There’s a rule about medical malpractice claims. They need to be filed within a certain amount of time. This rule is called the statute of limitations. It’s like a countdown timer. Once the timer goes off, you can’t file the claim anymore.

The time limit can be different in different places. Some places might give you two years, while others might give you more or less time. It’s important to know this time limit. If you wait too long, you might miss your chance.

For example, if parents think their child’s CP was because of a doctor’s mistake, they can’t wait too long to take action. If they do, the time might run out, and they can’t file the claim.

7. Jurisdiction and Local Laws

Where you live can change the rules of the game. Each place has its unique laws about medical malpractice. It’s like how different schools might have different rules for the same game.

For example, one place might have rules about how much money you can ask for in a claim. Another place might have different rules about what counts as a medical mistake.

That’s why it’s important to know the local rules. An experienced lawyer can help with this. They can explain how things work in that area and what to expect.


Medical malpractice claims can be complicated. Many factors can affect the outcome. From understanding conditions like cerebral palsy to knowing local laws, every detail matters. If someone believes they or their loved one was hurt because of a medical mistake, it’s important to be informed. Knowing these factors and getting the right help can make a big difference in the journey to justice.

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