The relationship of a patient to their doctor or surgeon is based on the trust and confidence that the patient places in that medical practitioner’s competence and expertise. If a procedure results in injury or death, establishing negligence of the medical professional or his staff is key to being able to file a lawsuit.
Medical malpractice cases can be quite complex and require not only proof of liability and causation, but also comprehensive medical records and credible medical expert witness testimony. Medical malpractice suits require skilled legal representation that not only has experience and medical knowledge, but also a proven record of successful settlements on behalf of their clients.
Medical malpractice in Pennsylvania
Under Pennsylvania’s Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Act (MCARE Act) of 2002, large-scale tort reform has upheld the legality of medical malpractice law and established a pooled medical liability coverage fund.
Medical malpractice in Pennsylvania is defined as the negligent or reckless treatment of a patient by a medical professional that results in loss, harm or damages to the patient, and is caused by the improper actions of the medical professional.
The medical provider is ethically and legally bound to provide a standard of care that is commensurate with industry standards. For this reason, testimony from a medical expert witness who practices and has experience in the same field is an essential component to the viability of the claim.
The statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice claim in Pennsylvania is two years, however, there is an exemption to that law under the discovery of harm rule. This rule allows an injured party to file a claim if the injury has been discovered after the expiration of the statute of limitations.
Caps and comparative negligence
There are no caps on compensatory damages, which include economic damages. However, the MCARE Act mandates that at least one quarter of the plaintiff’s award be contributed to MCARE fund.
Pennsylvania law also recognizes comparative negligence in medical malpractice cases, in which each party can share a degree of fault for injuries, depending on the unique facts of the case. Where there is proven fraud or intentional harm or if the patient is more than 60% responsible for their injuries, the award for damages to the plaintiff will be greatly reduced.