It is a medical patient’s worst nightmare come true. Maybe your child was severely injured during the birth process, the doctor failed to diagnose your husband’s cancer before it was too late, or you suffered from major health complications because your medical condition was misdiagnosed. All of these unfortunate instances are examples of medical malpractice that occur every single day. In fact, in 2015 alone, there were 1,519 cases of medical malpractice filed in the state of Pennsylvania.
However, just because you or a loved one experienced a negative outcome does not necessarily mean that medical malpractice occurred. The unfortunate reality is that doctors are human. They cannot perform miracles, and they make mistakes. It is their responsibility to do everything in their power and expertise to help their patients, but not every story will have a happy ending.
In order to prove that medical malpractice did indeed occur, there are several basic requirements that your situation must meet.
- You must be able to prove that a doctor-patient relationship existed. If you simply got some casual medical advice from a friend of a friend while chatting at a party or a doctor referred you to another medical professional, these individuals cannot be held responsible for your medical issue.
- You must be able to prove that medical negligence took place. This means that you will need testimony from a medical expert to demonstrate that the doctor made medical decisions and administered treatments that were below the accepted medical standard of care.
- You must be able to prove that the injury was caused by the doctor’s negligence. Essentially, you have to prove that an existing injury, sickness, or something completely unrelated did not cause the injury you are referring to.
- You must be able to prove that the injury resulted in specific damages. If you didn’t actually suffer from any harm, there isn’t a case for medical malpractice. However, patients do have the ability to sue for damages like mental distress, physical pain, medical expenses, and lost wages from being unable to work.
With the basics of medical malpractice covered, you should have a reasonable idea as to whether or not you may have a case. Now it comes time to report your medical malpractice incident to the appropriate authorities. To help you make moves in the right direction, here are some insightful answers on a few frequently asked questions about the process.
Who should I contact first about medical malpractice in Pennsylvania?
Your first step should be to contact the doctor or medical professional who treated you or your loved one. This can help you to get a better understanding of what happened, and the doctor may also be able to let you know whether or not the problem can be fixed. If that does not lead to any type of resolution, you can then contact the medical licensing board. While this will not initiate a legal case against the doctor, it could lead to warnings or discipline being issued to the medical professional.
How long do I have to sue for medical malpractice?
When it comes to medical malpractice, each state has its own statute of limitations. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations is two years in most cases. This means that patients have two years to take legal action against a doctor once you discover that an injury has occurred.
Who can help me seek legal justice?
The good news is that there are experienced medical malpractice attorneys in Pennsylvania who can guide you every step of the way. A lawyer can help you obtain a certificate of merit from another medical professional to prove that you have a case. Additionally, the entire process can seem much less intimidating with a legal professional by your side, and a medical malpractice attorney can help you obtain the proper compensation for your injuries.
Contact the team at Ross Feller Casey today to report your medical malpractice incident and get started on achieving legal justice.