How long after a case of medical malpractice can I file a claim?
Two years from the date of the malpractice under Pennsylvania law. If you feel you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice, it is usually best not to wait long before speaking with a lawyer.
How Is A Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Proven?
A Pennsylvania medical malpractice case is proven by showing sufficient evidence of the following: (1) Liability, (2) Causation, and (3) Damages.
- Liability means we must be able to prove “with a reasonable degree of medical certainty” the doctor or hospital or other medical professional who treated you ”departed from what is accepted medical care.” It means we must show that it was more likely than not that the doctors or other medical professionals who cared for you did not properly treat you medically, and in accordance with the standard of care, other physicians or other medical professionals with the same specialty would use to treat your problem. A medical expert must testify the treatment was inappropriate and explain how and why it was inappropriate.
- Causation means our medical expert must be able to say, again, that what he is saying is more likely right than not right, and the alleged medical negligence was a cause of your injuries. He must be able to show the medical wrongdoing was a cause of your injury. If he is unable to show the wrongdoing caused your injury, you will be unable to prove your case.
- Damages mean injuries. Our medical expert must prove not only there was medical wrongdoing and the wrongdoing caused injury, but must also show your injury is significant. We use your treating doctors as experts to explain to a jury what injuries you suffered. If your treating doctors are unavailable, we use other medical experts to describe to the jury the extent of your injury, disability and permanent problems.
What does it mean that I must prove my case by a “preponderance of the evidence”?
By a “preponderance of the evidence” is the burden of proof required of the plaintiff in most civil cases filed in the United States. This means that the evidence against the defendant must be tipped, ever so slightly, against the defendant in order for the defendant to be liable. This is a much less stringent standard of proof than the one required in criminal trials, which is that of “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
What is “standard of care”?
All doctors and medical providers are required to provide medical care which is consistent with appropriate medical care. This is defined as the reasonable care standard; in other words, what would a reasonable doctor in a like specialty have done in similar circumstances. If the doctor’s care who is alleged to have committed malpractice fell below that standard, then it may equate to malpractice.
What are some of the ways we attack the defense medical expert’s opinion?
We start with the thinking that everything the defense expert is saying in his or her report is false, and we then force the expert to prove each and every portion of the opinion. This is done at the defense expert’s deposition or at trial by way of cross examination. We research the background of the expert, find prior written opinions or depositions from other cases, and scrutinze what the expert has said before and utilize that to destroy the expert’s opinion at trial.
In my medical malpractice case, when my doctor is answering questions at the deposition, can I be present? Can I answer questions too?
Yes, you can and should be present. After a lawsuit is filed, the normal course of the discovery process is to have the depositions of all parties and witnesses be taken. This includes the questioning of the defendant doctor in a medical malpractice suit. This is the opportunity for your attorney, when deposing the defendant doctor, to get the doctor’s version of the events leading up to your injury on the record. As a victim of malpractice, sitting in on a deposition of the defendant in any case can be an emotional experience. Nevertheless, it is your attorney’s role, not yours, to ask the questions of the defendant, or of any other witnesses. You can however discuss questions you feel are important with your attorney before the defendant doctor’s deposition, and you can always get a copy of the deposition transcript afterward. But your attorney will take the lead in the questioning.
Will I have to go to trial?
It is very possible that your case may have to go to trial. Insurance companies do not like to settle cases, and much of it will depend on the facts, injuries, and medicine at issue. Although many cases settle well before going to trial, some even before the complaint is filed, there are many cases, particularly those involving medical malpractice, that do in fact go to trial.