| Read Time: 3 minutes | Medical Malpractice
prove causation in med malpractice case

Proving causation is a critical step in holding healthcare providers accountable for their negligent actions.

It involves demonstrating a clear link between a healthcare provider’s actions and the harm suffered by the plaintiff.

This requires a thorough examination of the medical records, expert testimony, and other relevant evidence.

The ultimate goal is to establish that the healthcare provider’s breach of the standard of care directly caused the injury, harm, or damage to the patient.

In this article, the New Mexico medical malpractice lawyers at Poulos & Coates go over the details of proving causation. If you have any questions, please contact us today.

The Elements You Must Prove

In a medical malpractice claim (NMSA 41-5-3), you need to establish the following elements:

  • You and the healthcare provider had a provider-patient relationship which created a duty of care;
  • The healthcare provider breached their duty of care by deviating from the generally accepted standard of care; 
  • The breach caused your injuries; and
  • You suffered damages due to your injuries.

Connecting malpractice to harm involves proximate causation, a legal principle determining if the harm a plaintiff experiences was a foreseeable result of the defendant’s actions or inactions. It assesses the directness of the link between negligence and injury, crucial in legal proceedings.

Causation is made up of proximate cause and actual cause. The proximate cause definition is detailed further below. 

If you cannot show causation, your medical malpractice claim will likely fail. That is where our team of qualified medical malpractice attorneys comes in.

We can review the details of your case and determine whether you qualify to file a claim. 

What Is Proximate Cause?

The proximate cause definition varies slightly from state to state. In general, proximate cause is an act from which an injury results as a natural, direct, uninterrupted consequence.

In other words, without the healthcare provider’s act, your harm would not have occurred.

Proximate cause is also referred to as the legal cause of an injury because it is the act the law recognizes as causing the injury and determines whether a party is liable.

In a medical malpractice case, the healthcare provider may claim that your pre-existing conditions caused your injury instead of their negligence.

Our qualified medical malpractice attorneys can prepare a strategy emphasizing that negligence was the proximate cause of your injuries. 

Actual Cause vs. Proximate Cause

Actual cause is referred to as “cause in fact.” For example, if a car hits a bicyclist and breaks their leg, the driver of the car is the actual cause of the bicyclist’s broken leg.

The actual cause of the bicyclist’s injury is clear-cut, but legal liability may be another story. Perhaps the car’s brakes failed right before it struck the bicyclists.

In that case, the brake failure is the proximate cause of the bicyclist’s injury, even though the car’s driver is the actual cause.

In a medical malpractice case, you need to show the defendant was the actual and proximate cause of your injury.

Our team can collect evidence like medical reports, photographs, and eyewitness testimony to bolster your case. 

If You Need Help Proving Proximate Cause, Negligence Attorneys at Poulos & Coates Can Help

Proving proximate cause is often one of the most challenging parts of succeeding in a medical malpractice claim.

Luckily, the team of medical malpractice attorneys at Poulos & Coates has over 70 years of combined experience working on behalf of medical negligence victims.

Additionally, our team keeps a doctor and two nurses on our staff to help us build the strongest cases possible.

We have secured more than $300 million in judgments and settlements for our clients. 

Our team understands how a medical tragedy can turn your life upside down. We care about our clients and will strive to help your family recover in any way we can.

Contact our office today and take the first steps toward your recovery.

Author Photo

Greig Coates, M.D., J.D.

Over the last thirty years, Dr. Coates has successfully represented plaintiffs in every conceivable type of medical malpractice lawsuit–from single-physician cases to complex litigation involving over a dozen doctors and several hospitals. Dr. Coates has taken several thousand physician depositions in his career involving every known physician specialty and sub-specialty, and almost as many depositions involving hospital personnel such as nurses, techs, and administrators. He has tried several dozen cases to successful verdicts.

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