Meeting the Burden of Proof in Medical Malpractice Cases

Plaintiffs in Connecticut medical malpractice lawsuits sometimes face difficulties in proving that their health care providers have been negligent. The possibility that a physician accused of negligence might be the one writing the medical records pertinent to the lawsuit poses one challenge. The common law doctrine known as res ipsa loquitur, however, supplies some plaintiffs with a means of shifting the burden of proof onto defendants if they can meet the requirements.

Res ipsa loquitur translates from the Latin into “the thing speaks for itself.” An injured party can employ this doctrine when it can be demonstrated that only a physician’s negligence could have caused the injury. Also, proof must be provided that the injury would not have happened if the physician had not performed a certain treatment, missed a diagnosis or prescribed a medicine.

Additional requirements must be met as well. The injured party needs to show that evidence pointing to a certain cause of the injury does not exist. The injury could not have been self-inflicted, and it must also have arisen from a situation under the exclusive control of the physician or health care team. When res ipsa loquitur can be invoked, the defendant will then be required to prove that negligence did not occur.

A person injured by a medical mistake might turn to an attorney for help in determining the remedies that may be available. In some cases, the res ipsa doctrine can be utilized. In other cases, the attorney can use the patient’s records, expert witness testimony and other evidence to show that the health care practitioner’s negligence was the cause of the injury. In such an event, it may be advisable to file a medical malpractice lawsuit seeking appropriate damages.