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How Malpractice Attorneys Assist Victims of Medical Negligence in South Africa

As professional healthcare providers, doctors must study several years and gain sufficient practical experience to ensure that they have the skills and experience needed to deal with various medical situations in their field of expertise. They cannot cure all diseases and most certainly cannot foresee every type of complication related to a particular treatment. However, they are required to meet reasonable standards of medical practice, including not putting the health of patients at risk through their actions or decisions.

The above said, mistakes do occur and if a doctor makes a mistake that leads to serious injury of the patient, it is time to consider whether it is a case of malpractice. It is here where the expertise of malpractice attorneys specialising in medical negligence, becomes exceptionally valuable.

For the average person, it is not easy to recognise malpractice, and a patient may even consider taking legal action against the doctor without sufficient grounds and proof to do so. The malpractice attorneys can advise the patient on the merits of the particular medical malpractice lawsuit. Where possible, and if in the best interest of the patient, the malpractice attorneys will seek an out-of-court settlement. If the practitioner or their insurer is not willing to do so, the malpractice attorneys, upon instruction from the client, will commence with court proceedings.

A civil case is then instituted against the practitioner or their insurer in either the High Court of South Africa or the Magistrate’s Court. It is also possible to initiate legal steps against an institution rather than a person. If, for instance, the patient was injured at a public or private hospital, the relevant institution may be held accountable for the injuries suffered by the patient rather than the staff involved. To this end, it is best to seek legal guidance from malpractice attorneys specialising in medical negligence on how to proceed with a lawsuit.

For any medical malpractice claim to be successful, the patient must be able to prove that the institution or practitioner had a legal duty of care, that the legal obligation of providing such care at a reasonable standard was not fulfilled, and that the action or lack thereof by the practitioner or institution caused the injury suffered by the patient. The patient must have suffered physically, financially and/or emotionally as a direct result of the injury.

Legally, the practitioner or the institution must make the patient’s records available to the patient upon request. However, the institution may delay in providing the required information or may attempt to change the records. The malpractice attorneys, however, can give notice to the defending party in such an instance and request that the original documents be made available for inspection.

The malpractice attorneys will furthermore approach medical experts to help determine whether the actions or lack thereof had caused the injuries suffered by the patient, whether the treatment was according to a reasonable and acceptable standard, what the extent of injury was, and whether the practitioner or institution had a duty of care

Due to the complexity and nature of medical malpractice claims, it is recommended that the victims of negligence or malpractice seek legal guidance from experienced malpractice attorneys regarding the steps to take to get financial compensation.

If you wish to seek the advice of an attorney specialising in medical negligence, feel free to contact our team at Adele van der Walt Incorporated.


Information in this article is not intended as legal advice and is only for informational purposes. Please seek legal guidance from Adele van der Walt Incorporated before relying on this information to make any legal decisions.

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