Within most negligence claims there arises an issue of standard of care according to injury attorney Brien Roche . In an automobile accident case the standard of care defined there is set by the traffic regulations. For instance the traffic regulations dictate that you shall not enter an intersection on a red light. That regulation establishes the standard of care by which all persons are bound in terms of passing through an intersection.
In other contexts there may be building codes or other state or local codes that may establish the standard of care by which property owners are bound. Those codes can be the basis upon which a negligence case may be founded because they establish the standard of care to which the defendant is held. If the defendant has violated that code then that may be evidence of a breach of duty by that defendant. If that breach then resulted in damage to you then you may have a basis for a negligence claim against the property owner.
The concept of standard of care becomes especially important in certain types of professional liability claims; for instance, medical malpractice claims, legal malpractice claims or architectural malpractice claims. In those types of claims generally the plaintiff has to establish what the standard of care is. The standard of care normally is established by means of the presentation of evidence by experts in that field. For instance, if in the course of your open heart surgery the surgeon happens to penetrate your coronary artery with a catheter and you suffer irreparable damage, has the standard of care for that procedure been violated? That is not something that I could answer as a non-medical person. Nor is it something that you could answer as a non-medical person. Nor is it something that a group of jurors could answer as non-medical people unless they hear evidence from a medical expert establishing what the standard of care is.
The standard of care defined in that particular instance may be that the surgeon through the use of radiological instruments, should have been able to tell where his catheter was going and therefore should have known when he was about to puncture the arterial wall and therefore could have avoided it if he had been attentive to the radiological instrument that showed him where the catheter was. In that instance, the standard of care evidence presented by the plaintiff may show that the doctor was negligent in puncturing the arterial wall with that catheter.The standard of care defined by the opposing party may be different.
You can rest assured that the defendant doctor will bring in his own medical expert who will refute that and who will state that there is no standard of care in this circumstance, that this was simply an unfortunate accident that happened, and that there was no negligence on the part of the doctor.
Some websites that may assist in terms of defining the standard of care are the National Guideline Clearinghouse which is a government sponsored research tool offering research for medical care guidelines and standards of care. In addition, the National Institute of Health’s PubMed is a huge data base of information containing journals and articles that may help establish the standard of care.
For more information about other medical malpractice related issues see the other pages on this site and also see the pages on Wikipedia.