Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim – Duty of Care

In previous posts, we have briefly discussed medical malpractice and dental negligence claims. In this series, we will look at the essential parts of a personal injury claim against a doctor, dentist or other health care professional.

There are four key elements that a plaintiff must prove in order to succeed in a medical malpractice claim. These are:

  • The doctor, dentist or health care provider owed the plaintiff a duty of care;
  • The services or treatment provided fell below the applicable standard of care;
  • The plaintiff suffered an injury or loss; and
  • That injury was caused by the defendant’s actions.

What is the duty of care in a negligence claim?

In a personal injury claim for medical malpractice or dental negligence, the “duty of care” refers to the obligation of the defendant to “take reasonable care” of the interests of the plaintiff when they are acting in their professional capacity.

A health care provider has two overarching duties of care to a patient. The first is to provide treatment in accordance with the standard expected of a similar service provider in the same field. Secondly, they must obtain informed consent from the patient and advise them of material risks associated with the treatment in question.

How to know whether a duty of care exists

It is well settled that once an individual is under the care of a doctor or dentist, they are owed a duty of care as a patient.

In some rare circumstances, doctors and dentists may owe a duty of care to individuals that are not their specific patients. Where it can be proven that they could reasonably foresee that their actions (or negligence) could have an impact on a person, that person may be owed a duty of care. Ultimately, there may be a duty of care in any circumstance where a doctor has provided care or professional advice to the individual asserting a claim in negligence, even if they were not formally a patient.

Legal advice and representation for victims of medical malpractice

At Derfel Injury Law, our personal injury lawyers represent the victims of medical malpractice, dental malpractice and other types of professional negligence, and help them obtain compensation. We have experience handling complicated medical matters, and can help you determine whether you have a potential claim against a doctor or dentist. To make an appointment with a member of our team, contact us online or call 416-847-3580. We can meet with clients at locations in Toronto, Whitby, or Barrie.