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What defenses can a doctor raise in a medical malpractice case?

When a Californian has been injured at the hands of a negligent doctor, he or she may choose to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit. It is quite likely that a doctor who has made a mistake and potentially even caused permanent disability to a patient will contest a patient's claim of medical malpractice. It can thus be helpful for an injured Californian to understand some of the potential defenses a doctor may raise if he or she is considering a malpractice action.

Commonly, doctors argue that their behavior was not in fact negligent, but rather comported with appropriate medical standards of care. They are likely to contend that they acted reasonably competent, as a physician in similar circumstances would have. Additionally, a doctor may contend that a patient's injury resulted from something other than medical error, or that a patient performed a negligent act that led to his or her injury.

A doctor who has prescribed a radical form of treatment for a patient may contend that this course of action was supported by a respectable minority of medical professionals. If a doctor failed to inform a patient of the risks involved in such radical care, however, this defense will likely fail.

Depending on when a case was filed, a doctor may try to claim that a patient's claim is barred due to the applicable statute of limitations. For this reason, it is important that medical malpractice victims consider their legal options and act on them in a timely manner.

The aforementioned defenses provide a general overview of how a medical professional may answer to claims of medical malpractice. Each case will differ, though, so a person who has been injured due to a doctor's negligence may find legal counsel helpful. Though a doctor might raise one or more of the defenses discussed above, a patient's own attorney can help establish why such a defense may not be valid in a particular case.

Source: FindLaw, "Defenses to Medical Malpractice," accessed March 18, 2016

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