Medical Malpractice: Proving Causation

How to prove your medical malpractice claim

You cannot be successful in a medical malpractice claim if you cannot establish causation. This means that the plaintiff has to show a substantial connection between their injury and the defendant’s conduct. While other areas of negligence law have remained rather stable, causation continues to evolve and confound. As cases make their way through the Canadian court system, old questions are answered while new questions are raised.

Legal causation can be analyzed by reviewing blame, explanation, physical role, and involvement. It isn’t enough for the plaintiff to show that they are injured after receiving medical care. They must show that an injury resulted from the healthcare provider’s negligent actions.

As discussed in our other blog about expert evidence, proving causation needs the help of a medical expert. The expert will typically speak to the “but for” test used in negligence lawsuits – the patient likely wouldn’t have been injured but for the healthcare provider’s negligence. The Supreme Court of Canada decision in Hanke v Resurfice Corp held that the “but for” test is the prominent test to be used, however, the Court acknowledged a special exception to the law. If the plaintiff cannot prove negligence due to factors outside of their control, the defendant clearly breached their standard of care owed to the patient exposing them to a risk, and that risk was in fact suffered by the patient, then the Material Contribution Test can also be used.

As it stands today, the law on causation remains uncertain and is subject to change in the coming years. Matters are also complicated by the medical facts; sometimes the cause of pain or injury is not clear. In many cases, causation makes it difficult to predict the eventual outcome of a case and is a topic that is best left to be handled by an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Questions about a legal claim?

Causation is a fundamental element of a successfully negligence claim. If you have questions about this topic or anything else in relation to a possible medical malpractice claim, reach out to NOVA Injury Law. Jeff Mitchell is an experienced personal injury lawyer dedicated to representing injury victims after an accident. Call toll-free: 1-855-670-1345 or 902-702-3452.

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