Medical Negligence Civil Charges

5.50B – Common Knowledge May Furnish Standard of Care


Negligence is the failure to comply with the standard of care to protect a person from harm. Negligence in a doctor’s medical practice, which is called malpractice, is the doctor’s failure to comply with the standard of care in the care and treatment of his/her patient. Usually it is necessary to establish the standard of care by expert testimony, that is, by testimony of persons who are qualified by their training, study and experience to give their opinions on subjects not generally understood by persons who lack such special training or experience. In the usual case the standard of care by which to judge the defendant’s conduct cannot be determined by the jury without the assistance of expert medical testimony.

However, in some cases, such as the case at hand, the jury may determine from its common knowledge and experience the standard of care by which to judge the defendant’s conduct. In this case plaintiff contends that the defendant violated the duty of care he/she owed to the plaintiff by doing ____________________________ [or by failing to do the following ____________________]. In this case, therefore, it is for you, as jurors, to determine, based upon common knowledge and experience, what skill and care the average physician practicing in the defendant’s field would have exercised in the same or similar circumstances. It is for you as jurors to say from your common knowledge and experience whether the defendant deviated from the standard of care in the circumstances of this case.

After determining the standard of care required in the circumstances of this case, you should then consider the evidence to determine whether the defendant has complied with or departed from that standard of care. If you find that defendant has complied with that standard of care he/she is not liable to the plaintiff, regardless of the result. If you find that defendant has not complied with that standard of care, resulting in injury or damage to the plaintiff, then you should find defendant negligent and return a verdict for plaintiff.

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