Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in PA – What You Need
We should be able to trust our doctors and medical practitioners to know what they're doing and to do their best. But negligence and mistakes are unfortunately very common in medicine. A 2017 survey by the National Patient Safety Foundation and Institute for Healthcare Improvement found that 21% of Americans reported suffering a medical error of some kind.
Of medical malpractice cases in the U.S., 26% are claims regarding failure to diagnose or incorrect diagnosis, 24% are related to surgery, and 28.5% are related to improper treatment. Others include reaction to medications or anesthesia, improper monitoring, and other adverse events.
PA malpractice lawsuit laws
In order to pursue a personal injury lawsuit in PA, a plaintiff (injured person) must prove four things:
- Duty: The medical personnel or institution had a duty to provide care
- Dereliction: The medical providers failed to follow normal standards that any other competent medical provider would have provided in the same situation
- Direct or proximate cause: The injuries you sustained were directly or closely connected with the dereliction of duty
- Damages: Your injury can be proven, including the costs associated with the injury
Pennsylvania has a statute of limitations for medical malpractice suits, which is the amount of time you have to sue. The limitation is two years from the time of the injury, or from the time you discovered the injury. For instance, a doctor may have cut nerves in an operation that affected your back, but it took you three years of going to various specialists to discover that the pain was due to these damaged nerves. The statute of limitations “clock” will then begin to count down when you discovered your back pain was caused by the surgical mistake.
The statute of limitations for minors begins when they reach the age of majority. Thus, a 15-year-old injured by a medical practitioner has two years after turning 18 to sue. Of course, the child's parents can sue before that, on the minor's behalf.
However, PA law does put a cap of seven years from the date of the medical error or negligence, regardless of whether or not the patient knew. The exception to this is if a foreign object was left inside the person's body.
In order to sue in PA, you must file a signed “certificate of merit” within 60 days of filing the lawsuit. This certificate is a written statement by an appropriate licensed professional, testifying that “there exists a reasonable probability that the care, skill, or knowledge exercised or exhibited in the treatment, practice, or work that is the subject of the complaint fell outside acceptable professional standards and that such conduct was a cause in bringing about the harm” that the plaintiff alleges. This person must be an expert in the field in which the injury occurred and would be considered an acceptable expert witness at a trial.
Receiving compensation for injury
Pennsylvania has no caps on damages for medical malpractice, therefore a patient who has been injured may be able to receive full compensation for injuries. Most lawsuits end in negotiation, therefore it is critical that you have a competent, experienced personal injury lawyer on your side who knows how to proceed in court or go to the negotiating table, and win either way.
Injured patients can be compensated for:
- Medical costs, current and future
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Other expenses caused by the negligence, such as necessary changes to your home to accommodate your injuries
- Loss of companionship in the case of serious permanent injury or death
In order to establish costs and the extent of injury, a patient should keep all medical records and a log of all medical visits, conversations with doctors and other experts, and medical expenses. Other information needed would be proof of income, lost work, and any photographic evidence before and after that demonstrates injury. We work with our clients to collect as much evidence as possible to create a rock-solid case.
At the Law Offices of Blitshtein and Weiss, P.C., it's important to us to provide our clients with the compassionate attention and passionate advocacy they deserve in order to be fully compensated for their suffering due to medical negligence. You've suffered enough. We will help you receive fair compensation to help you cope with the injuries you have sustained through someone else's negligence. Call us in our Southampton office today at (215) 364-4900 for a free consultation.