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How a jury decides negligence in a medical professional’s actions

On Behalf of | Oct 16, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

Determining whether a medical professional’s actions were negligent is a complex process. It often relies on the careful examination of evidence that gets presented in court.

Juries play an important role in this assessment, carefully considering various factors to reach a fair and just verdict.

Standard of care

The first key aspect in evaluating medical negligence is establishing the standard of care. The jury must understand what the accepted practices and procedures within the medical community are for a certain type of situation. Expert witnesses often provide insights into what a reasonably competent medical professional would have done under similar circumstances.

Breach of duty

Once the standard of care is clear, the jury examines whether the medical professional in question breached this duty. Jurors scrutinize the actions the professional took or did not take and assess whether these actions deviated from the accepted standard. The jury considers whether a reasonably prudent medical professional would have acted differently in the same situation.


In 2022, Illinois had 861 medical malpractice payment reports, ranking it seventh in the United States. Juries in court cases need to see a direct link between the medical professional’s actions and the patient’s harm. The jury assesses whether the harm the patient suffered directly resulted from the alleged negligence.


Jurors also consider foreseeability. They assess whether a reasonable medical professional could have anticipated the potential harm to the patient based on the circumstances. This involves an analysis of the information available to the medical professional at the time of the incident and whether the harm was a foreseeable consequence of their actions.

Contributory negligence

In some cases, the jury must also determine whether the patient contributed to their own harm. If the patient’s actions played a role in the injury or worsened its outcome, the jury considers this factor when reaching a verdict. This analysis involves assessing the actions of both the medical professional and the patient to apportion responsibility for the harm suffered.

The process demands a thorough examination of the evidence presented during the trial, with the ultimate goal of ensuring accountability within the medical profession and justice for the affected parties.