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Medical Malpractice in Pennsylvania

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July 22, 2022

What is considered medical malpractice?

As in most states, medical malpractice in Pennsylvania refers to a medical professional’s inappropriate conduct that is inconsistent with the generally accepted standard of care practiced by medical professionals and that results in injury to a patient. Not all failures to comply with the standard of care (also called a “breach” or “violation” of the standard of care) equate with medical negligence. Nor do all injuries to patients mean that a medical professional breached the standard of care. But, where the medical provider deviated from the generally accepted standard of care, and where the patient suffered an injury as a result, the patient may have a medical malpractice claim.

How do you prove medical malpractice?

Under Pennsylvania law, a plaintiff in a medical malpractice action must establish four things:

  1. That the medical professional owed a duty to the patient; 
  2. That the medical professional breached that duty; 
  3. That the breach was the direct cause of the harm suffered; and 
  4. That the plaintiff suffered injuries and damages resulting directly from that breach. 

To prove a medical malpractice case, a plaintiff almost always needs to hire medical experts who will testify that each of the above elements were met. The expert, or experts, that are needed for a claim must meet certain qualifications under Pennsylvania law so that their testimony is admissible at trial. It is therefore important to retain an attorney who can hire the appropriate experts to support a claim. 

Under Pennsylvania law, even where a medical professional performs a procedure appropriately, the patient may have a viable medical malpractice claim if the medical professional did not obtain the patient’s informed consent by disclosing all of the relevant risks and alternatives.  If the patient did not give the surgeon informed consent and the patient is injured, there may be a viable medical malpractice claim.

A medical professional, a hospital, and other institutions can be liable for medical malpractice. This typically occurs when the hospital or institution employs or advertises the services of the medical professional who committed malpractice, but there may be other situations. A licensed Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorney can assist with determining who can be held accountable if there is a medical malpractice claim. 

What is the statute of limitations for medical malpractice in Pennsylvania?

A statute of limitations is a law that limits how long a person has to file a lawsuit. In Pennsylvania, in most situations, an injured person has two years from the date of the healthcare provider’s medical malpractice to file a claim. However, Pennsylvania law has exceptions that extend the time. For example, a claim for a patient’s wrongful death due to malpractice must be filed within two years of the death, which may be later than when the malpractice occurred. Likewise, if a patient did not know of the medical malpractice and could not have discovered it with reasonable diligence within two years, a claim filed more than two years after the malpractice may be timely. And, if the claim involves a minor, the claim may be filed up to two years after the child reaches age 18. Although there are some other exceptions, they are very fact-specific and require evaluation. It is therefore important to speak with a licensed Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to evaluate whether a claim is timely and can be pursued. 

How is medical malpractice pain and suffering calculated?

In Pennsylvania, a party injured by a healthcare provider’s medical malpractice can recover damages. Those damages include the patient’s (and potentially the family’s) pain and suffering, mental anguish, and other emotional stressors. The patient can also recover damages for the loss of the ability to enjoy life’s pleasures. Additionally, a patient can recover things like the costs of any medical care incurred, the costs associated with necessary future treatment from the injuries, and lost earnings due the inability to work from the injuries. 

If medical malpractice is proven, damages awards are typically made by juries. Because every case is variable, awards can vary widely even in similar cases. Having a Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorney who has tried cases before a jury and knows how they value cases is therefore important. The medical malpractice attorneys at Morris James are keenly aware of how juries calculate damages awards given their trial experience and know how to obtain the best results for their clients as a result.

Will my case go to trial? 

The medical malpractice attorneys at Morris James are always prepared to take a case to trial, but sometimes the injured party and the healthcare providers are able to resolve their matter before trial. If that achieves the best result for our clients, our attorneys will seek that goal. But, if the defendant healthcare providers refuse to pay a fair amount for a patient’s injuries sustained due to medical malpractice, our team will recommend a trial so that a jury can award fair compensation. 

Why choose Morris James to represent you?

Having attorneys who are not afraid to try cases is crucial to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve. Our attorneys have tried many cases to verdict and have experience with juries. The difference between an attorney who has tried a case before a jury and one who has not can be the difference between obtaining the award you deserve and no award. 

Our firm also has the resources of a larger firm with the personalized attention of a small boutique. That allows our attorneys to spend the money and time that is needed to pursue the best possible outcome, while also allowing our attorneys to give each client and case individualized attention. 

Our medical malpractice attorneys also have a distinct advantage that helps our clients.  Prior to representing victims of medical malpractice, our Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorneys defended healthcare providers in medical malpractice cases. As a result, our attorneys know how healthcare providers defend medical malpractice cases, and how to respond to their tactics effectively.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to a mistake by a healthcare professional, we may be able to help. Our Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorneys at Morris James are available to talk to you about your rights and the options that you have at this difficult time. Contact us online or call 302.888.6857 to find out more.

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