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Massachusetts Court Reviews Sufficiency of Evidence Needed to Pursue Medical Malpractice Claims

In medical malpractice cases, as in all civil claims, the plaintiff must set forth appropriate facts to raise a question of liability as to the defendant medical care providers. Unlike other civil cases, however, the sufficiency of the evidence set forth in a medical malpractice lawsuit is assessed by a tribunal before the plaintiff is allowed to proceed with his or her claim.

Recently, a Massachusetts appellate court reviewed the standard for evaluating whether a plaintiff’s evidence in a medical malpractice case is adequate, in a case in which the plaintiff’s claims were dismissed by the tribunal. If you were harmed by negligent medical care, it is important to retain a skilled Massachusetts personal injury attorney to represent you in your pursuit of compensation, to provide you with a good chance of a favorable outcome under the circumstances.

The Plaintiff’s Lawsuit Against the Defendants

The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against four physicians and a hospital, reportedly arising out of the care provided to her husband. Upon review, the tribunal found that there was insufficient evidence to raise an issue of fact as to liability as to all of the defendants, and dismissed the plaintiff’s claims. The plaintiff appealed.

Sufficient Evidence to Raise a Question of Liability in Medical Malpractice Cases

On appeal, the court stated that to prevail in a medical malpractice claim, the plaintiff must offer proof that the defendant is a health care provider, the defendant’s care did not conform to the good practice of medicine, and the plaintiff suffered harm as a result. The court reviews the evidence in support of a medical malpractice claim in a light favorable to the plaintiff.

Here, the court noted that as to two of the physicians, the plaintiff did not raise a legitimate question as to liability. Specifically, the plaintiff’s experts merely stated what care would “usually” be provided in a similar situation. The court found an opinion as to what would “usually” be done to be insufficient to show a deviation from the standard of care. Regarding the other two physicians, however, the court found the evidence presented by the plaintiff adequately set forth allegations to allow the plaintiff to proceed with her claim. Specifically, the court found that an expert opinion stating that the failings of a group of defendants contributed to the decedent’s death did not have to set forth the specific actions of each defendant that contributed to the harm. Lastly, the court found that the allegations regarding the insufficient care by the fourth physician was not a conclusory statement because it referenced particularized evidence. As such, the court vacated the order dismissing the claim as to the third and fourth physicians.

Meet with a Seasoned Massachusetts Personal Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one suffered harm due to inadequate medical care, it is essential to retain a seasoned Massachusetts personal injury attorney to assist you in pursuing a medical malpractice claim. The personal injury attorneys of Karsner & Meehan will gather any evidence in support of your claim and help you develop convincing arguments that the defendant caused your harm and should be liable for your damages. You can contact us at 508-822-6600 or through our online form to set up a confidential and free consultation.

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Under Massachusetts Law an Unavailable Witness’s Deposition Testimony Can Be Used at Trial, October 11, 2018, Massachusetts Injury Lawyers Blog