In Pennsylvania, medical malpractice is a serious civil claim that involves a harmed patient and a negligent medical provider. When a physician or medical professional fails to competently perform, the law allows the injured party to hold that person accountable for their actions. However, Pennsylvania statutes are strict and there are certain factors that must be present to bring a lawsuit against that negligent individual.
The Requirements for Malpractice in Pennsylvania
In order to prove medical malpractice exists, your claim must be able to show several things:
- There was a doctor-patient relationship. This means that the physician was treating or overseeing your care and that you had officially hired that physician. You cannot bring a lawsuit against a physician that gave you casual advice at a party; instead, you must have hired them and be able to show proof. This can be through medical insurance payments or even from your medical records.
- The medical professional acted negligently. Just because there was an error does not necessarily mean there was malpractice. Instead, the physician must have acted negligently. You must prove that the physician or medical professional caused you harm and that a competent physician in the same situation would have acted differently. This is referred to as the reasonable care and skill of a physician. Your attorney must show that your physician breached the medical standard of care, which resulted in your injury.
- The negligence caused an injury. Malpractice often involves individuals that are already sick or injured, which makes it difficult to prove that the physician’s actions resulted in further injury. However, your attorney must establish that the negligence of that physician directly caused some harm. For example, if a patient has been ill with cancer for several years and the physician failed to offer a treatment that would have prevented their death, it must be proven to the court that the patient died from the physician’s negligence and not from the cancer itself.
- The injury caused the patient damages. Even if there is evidence proving the physician acted negligently and injury was caused, it must also be proven that the patient suffered damages and harm. These damages can include physical pain, emotional pain, additional medical costs, lost wages or loss of earning capacity, or death.
The Statute of Limitations
In Pennsylvania, most medical malpractice claims fall under the two year statute of limitations. Meaning, even if you can prove negligence, injury and damages, you must also be within the two-year limitation to legally file your claim. There are some exceptions to this rule, especially for children that are harmed due to medical negligence. It is best to consult an attorney regarding your malpractice claim to see what statute limitations apply to your personal case.
Contact a PA Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you have been injured by a negligent physician, contact Jeffrey H. Penneys, Esq. for a free injury consult. We can review the facts of your case and make sure that you have the basic requirements to file your claim in PA courts. Contact us online or call 1-800-Injury-Law to schedule your free case evaluation.