Hospital Negligence Claims And Its Various Legal Elements

June 13, 2019

By Grossman Green PLLC

In the aftermath of an injury or illness, the top priority is to avail the best possible medical treatment. Usually, people trust hospitals to provide them this care. Sadly, hospital stays have proved to be a dreadful experience for many people owing to the negligence they suffered while they were admitted.

According to Kentucky laws, hospital negligence is an offense. In order to hold the hospital accountable, the petitioners must prove the following basic elements that are grounds for almost all medical or hospital negligence cases: duty, breach of duty, cause in fact, proximate cause and damages. A successful compensation claim is usually based on the establishment of these five elements.

In hospital negligence cases, the element of “duty” is often crucial. It is important because a claim for compensation against a hospital is only valid if it was the duty of the hospital to provide adequate care to the patient. Interestingly, duty is usually determined by the judge instead of the jury.

“Breach of duty” is the next element. For a successful hospital negligence claim, one needs to prove that the certain actions of doctors, nurses and other hospital staff was a breach of duty and those actions led to the patient’s harm. Unlike the previous element, breach of duty is usually determined by a jury.

“Cause in fact” means that it is a plaintiff’s duty to prove that certain actions of the doctors, nurses or hospital staff were the reason behind the harm caused to a patient, which means that had they performed their duties adequately, the patient would not have been harmed.

The “proximate cause” element is based on the fact that a hospital can be held responsible for risks that it could foresee. For risks that the hospital cannot foresee, it cannot be held accountable and the plaintiff is usually unable to establish that the hospital’s actions were the proximate cause of harm to the plaintiff.

For the “damages” element, a plaintiff needs to establish that negligence on part of the hospital and its staff caused legally recognized damages to the patient. Important here is the fact that establishing negligence alone is not sufficient for a successful claim. Rather, the plaintiff has to prove that it was actually the hospital negligence that caused the damages.