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Suing a Doctor for Breach of Contract

There are four things to remember about suing

a doctor for breach of contract:

1. You have to show that it was something you would not have done without an explicit promise of a good result.
2. You should have the doctor’

s promise in writing, or one reliable witness, if it was a verbal promise.  Otherwise, it will turn into a dispute, with you on the losing end.
3. The results have to be far below what you could reasonably expect, e.g. your nose looks much worse than it did before Plastic Surgery.
4. Your expectations must be reasonable, e.g. if your knees are crippled by arthritis or old injuries, you cannot expect the doctor to make them work like they did when you were sixteen.

Suing a Doctor for Breach of Contract:

1. In suing for breach of contract, the time limit is much longer than for a medical malpractice or dental malpractice lawsuit.  If you have run over your time limit to file a malpractice lawsuit, and can satisfy the conditions noted above, you may be able to salvage your case by a suit for breach of contract.

2. You do not have to prove the doctor committed malpractice.  You only have to show that the results did not conform to the doctor’s promises.  In many cases, the report of a surgical operation only describes the mechanical details of what was done.  It does not say how well it was done and is useless to prove malpractice.  A report of a gallbladder operation might describe everything as going perfectly, but if you still have trouble and your x-rays show that gall stones were left behind, it does not matter what the surgeon’s report says.

Disadvantages of Suing a Doctor for Breach of Contract:

1. The amount you receive may be limited.  In some states, you can only sue for what you have lost.  This is known as Reliance Damages, the money you lost by relying on the doctor’s promises.  In other states, you can also get Expectancy Damages, compensation for the happiness, satisfaction, and gains you would have achieved if the doctor had made good on his promise.  Expectancy damages can run almost as high as what you would receive in a medical malpractice or dental malpractice lawsuit.

2. You must prove there was a definite promise of a specific result.  The law governing breach of contract is different from laws governing medical malpractice or dental malpractice and is different in every state.  Only your lawyer can tell you whether it will be worthwhile, or even possible, in your case.

The Rule Is: A lawsuit for breach of contract can sometimes succeed when you cannot sue for malpractice.  Only your lawyer can decide whether this is the way to go.

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