Loss-of-Chance Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

Loss-of-Chance Doctrine is a legal principle applicable in some U.S states which allows a plaintiff to obtain damages from a defendant for a heightened risk of death or injury, even if the plaintiff cannot prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the ultimate injury was caused by the defendant's negligence. The vast majority of the cases using a loss of chance measure of damages have involved medical malpractice. For example, suppose a person who is facing a terminal illness undergoes a medical procedure that his or her doctor performs negligently, as a result of which the person's chance of survival is lowered from thirty percent to twenty percent, and the person subsequently dies. According to the doctrine even if the patient's estate cannot prove that the doctor's negligence caused the death of the patient, the loss of chance of survival is still of a compensable quantity, and the estate can recover for the value of this loss. In the U.S. majority of states have adopted the loss of chance doctrine while a few other states have rejected it. Several states that have adopted the loss of chance doctrine have limited its application to specific types of torts.

Loss-of-Chance Doctrine is also known as Increased-Risk-of-Harm Doctrine.