You rely on healthcare professionals to care for you and provide treatment when you need it most. But unfortunately, some doctors make mistakes that can lead to serious issues. Whether you experienced a misdiagnosis that led to ongoing health problems, or you suffered a surgery error that caused added pain, negligence in the healthcare field can be dangerous and life-altering.

Filing a medical malpractice claim is a path you can take if you believe your doctor’s negligence caused your worsening condition or illness. There are four steps you will need to take to prove your claim.

1. Existence of a doctor-patient relationship

Generally, the easiest step in proving your case is providing evidence of a doctor-patient relationship. This simply means that the healthcare professional in question agreed to diagnose or treat you. When a doctor agrees to treat you, they take on a duty to meet the medical standards required of them. This includes providing patients with competent, thorough care.

While this may seem like an obvious stipulation, it exists to protect physicians who didn’t treat you directly. For example, you cannot sue a doctor whose advice you overheard in a casual environment.

2. Indication of negligent care

This is where medical malpractice claims can get more complex. You must be able to prove that your doctor did not meet the standard medical practices required of them by the law. Often, this stage consists of expert witness testimonies, usually given by other healthcare professionals. A court will compare your doctor’s actions to other doctors’ testimonies to determine what should have been the best course of action under the circumstances.

3. Proof that negligence caused the injury

You must also be able to prove that it was your doctor’s negligence that caused your sufferings. It’s necessary to address this because you may have already had an illness or injury when you began treatment. For a medical malpractice claim to stick, you must prove that your doctor’s actions caused further harm or injury to you, and that it wasn’t just a natural progression of your preexisting condition or illness.

4. Evidence of damages

Finally, you will need to provide proof of your injuries. This includes evidence that points to excessive pain and suffering, medical bills, treatment costs and even lost wages.

Although it can be a lengthy, complex process, filing a medical malpractice claim can get you the help and compensation you may deserve after suffering at the hands of a negligent doctor.