In Pennsylvania, your case must be reviewed by a qualified medical expert before initiating a medical malpractice lawsuit. The expert must find that the facts show that medical negligence was committed, and that substandard care was rendered. You must also be able to prove that the substandard medical care resulted in a significant injury or death to the patient.
What Are The Guidelines Used To Prove Negligence In A Medical Malpractice Claim?
The medical community is governed by their own standard of care. Each medical specialty has its own standards of care. If the healthcare provider does not uphold or comply with that standard, then medical negligence is committed. In other words, in a medical malpractice case, you must show that the healthcare provider owed a duty to the patient that was breached and then secondly, you must prove that that breach caused an injury to the patient. And this is done, again, all through qualified medical expert opinions.
What Types Of Damages Can Be Awarded In A Medical Malpractice Claim?
Compensatory damages are awarded in medical malpractice claims. We will talk about punitive damages as well. First, compensatory damages include non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, disfigurement, humility, anguish, embarrassment, loss of services, and companionship. You also have economic damages that you may also be entitled to as part of the compensatory award. That would include lost earnings and wages, past present and future, and then as well as any medical expenses, past medical expenses and future medical expenses. Sometimes, if the facts warrant it, you might be entitled to punitive damages. These damages are more of a punishment imposed upon the defendant, that also serve as a deterrent.
How Can Someone Get Punitive Damages In a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Again, you need to show that the care rendered was either reckless or so grossly negligent, and that provider acted in such utter disregard for the health and wellbeing of the patient. It is extraordinary to get punitive damages in most cases.
Are Medical Malpractice Awards Capped In Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania does not limit or cap compensatory damages in medical malpractice actions. However, there are limits to these punitive damages that we were speaking about. In Pennsylvania, punitive damages are limited to double or two-hundred percent of what the awarded compensatory damages.
What Steps Does Someone Need To Take For A Successful Medical Malpractice Claim?
First and foremost, if you suspect that malpractice has been committed, you need to promptly call an experienced medical malpractice attorney such as those here at Fodera & Long, because there are time strict time limitations in which to file your claim. This is what is referred to as the Statute of Limitations. You also want to make sure that there is preservation of the evidence that you would need to prove your claim. This generally is the patient’s medical records. Frankly, our memories often fade with the passing of time, so keeping a journal could also be beneficial to the claim.
For the most part, medical records are saved pursuant to either the state laws or Federal law for a period of time. Generally, these laws are complied with by the health care providers, but there are times where the records are not maintained in accordance with the law. As such, you should not wait too long to contact an attorney if you think malpractice has been committed.
How Long Do Medical Malpractice Claims Typically Take To Get Resolved?
They are lengthy cases. It does vary upon the venue in which you file your claim. Some counties move a lot quicker than others. Federal court is a generally a fast paced system as well. Here in Philadelphia, generally the malpractice case takes about two to three years from the time the lawsuit is initiated. These parameters hold true in some of the surrounding counties as well, particularly Bucks County, Delaware County and Montgomery County.
What Is The Most Difficult Part Of Proving Negligence In A Malpractice Claim?
What can make it difficult is when you have a patient who does not follow sound medical advice, and somehow contributes to the injury or any complications they have suffered. That probably would be one of the biggest hurdles in establishing a medical malpractice case.
For more information on Validity Of A Medical Malpractice Claim, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (215) 569-1212 today.