Can You Sue a Doctor for Malpractice in Tennessee?

December 12, 2022

If you suspect that negligence on the part of a health care provider caused you harm, a medical malpractice lawyer in Tennessee can review your case and advise you of your legal rights and options. Doctors and other medical professionals can be held liable for injuries caused by inadequate care. However, not every medical error is grounds for a medical malpractice claim.

Strong evidence is needed to bring a medical malpractice claim against a doctor. The Haynes Firm will fully investigate to determine whether you are entitled to compensation.

Call 423-928-0165 today for a FREE case evaluation with a medical malpractice lawyer in Tennessee. Our attorneys serve clients throughout the Johnson City area.

What Doctors Can Be Sued for Medical Malpractice?

In Tennessee, patients are allowed to bring malpractice claims (or, more properly, health care liability claims) against anyone classified as a “health care provider.” This encompasses multiple professionals who may be called “doctor,” including:

  • Physicians
  • Medical specialists
  • Surgeons
  • Pharmacists
  • Dentists
  • Podiatrists
  • Optometrists
  • Psychologists
  • Osteopaths

Health care liability also extends to “medical resident physicians, interns, and fellows participating in a training program of one of the accredited medical schools or of one of such medical school’s affiliated teaching hospitals in Tennessee” (see Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26-101). If a doctor is classified as an employee of a hospital or medical center, the facility may also be liable for injuries caused by malpractice.

When Is a Doctor Liable for Medical Malpractice?

Negligence is the core issue that must be proved in a medical malpractice claim. Doctors do make mistakes, and not every error constitutes malpractice.

For a medical error to rise to the level of malpractice, the following elements must be met:

1. The Doctor Owed You a Duty of Care

As a patient, you are entitled to care that meets the accepted standards of the medical profession. This is known as the duty of care, and it can be established through intake forms and medical records showing that you were under the care of the doctor when the error and subsequent injury occurred.

2. The Doctor Breached the Duty of Care

Plaintiffs must present evidence of the following to recover compensation for medical malpractice:

  1. The recognized standard of acceptable professional practice in the profession and the specialty thereof, if any, that the defendant practices in the community in which the defendant practices or in a similar community at the time the alleged injury or wrongful action occurred;
  2. That the defendant acted with less than or failed to act with ordinary and reasonable care in accordance with such standard; and
  3. As a proximate result of the defendant’s negligent act or omission, the plaintiff suffered injuries which would not otherwise have occurred.

According to subsections (1) and (2) above, doctors are considered to have breached the duty of care if they fail to maintain the standards of their profession. In other words, general practitioners are held to the same standard as other GPs while medical specialists are held to the same standard as physicians in their specialty (e.g., a surgeon is held to the same standard as a surgeon). Furthermore, doctors are also subject to the standard of medical care for the community in which they practice.

Whether a doctor’s error constitutes medical malpractice depends on the specific facts of your case. Common grounds for medical malpractice lawsuits include (but are not limited to):

3. The Doctor’s Error Caused You Injury

Causation is one of the most difficult elements to prove in any medical malpractice claim. Medicine is a complex field, with multiple factors often contributing to a patient’s condition and the adverse outcomes that may arise.

A medical malpractice lawyer in Tennessee will thoroughly evaluate your medical records and consult with qualified medical experts to determine how the doctor’s negligence led to your injuries. Comprehensive documentation and expert testimony can help to establish causation.

It is important to note that health care providers may only be held liable for injuries that “would not otherwise have occurred.” Depending on the patient’s complaint, doctors and their insurers may try to argue that a decline in health was inevitable and any injuries or complications did not arise from errors on the doctor’s part. A knowledgeable attorney will collect evidence to disprove these arguments and establish that medical negligence was the “proximate cause” of the harm you have suffered.

4. You Sustained Damages as a Result of Medical Malpractice

Finally, you need to prove that you have incurred compensable damages as a result of a doctor’s negligence. A medical malpractice lawyer in Tennessee can pursue compensation for losses including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • The cost of medical travel
  • Expenses for assistive devices, home and vehicle modifications, household support, etc.
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional anguish
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Reduced life expectancy
  • Wrongful death damages (if your loved one died due to a medical error)

In Tennessee, non-economic damages for medical malpractice are capped at $750,000. Although the damages cap limits what you can recover for pain and suffering and other non-economic losses, your attorney will fight to maximize compensation for your injuries or the wrongful death of a loved one.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Tennessee Today

Suing a doctor for medical malpractice is not a simple task. Health care providers and insurance companies frequently dispute liability for errors, making it difficult for patients to recover the compensation they deserve.

The Haynes Firm represents good people who have been hurt through no fault of their own. We put our clients at the center of everything we do, enabling us to achieve outstanding results while making a real difference in people’s lives.

View Our Verdicts & Settlements

Lawyers at The Haynes Firm are well-versed in medical malpractice litigation. We have the knowledge, experience, and resources to hold doctors and other medical professionals accountable for their negligence.

Contact The Haynes Firm to speak to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer in Tennessee. Your initial case evaluation is FREE.

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