What should I know when filing a medical malpractice claim in Pennsylvania?

There is a time limit on when you can file a medical malpractice claim in Pennsylvania, and you will be expected to prove a number of items.

In 2013, an inmate in a Pennsylvania facility was experiencing gastric issues and sought medical help. According to The Pennsylvania Record, he underwent a test, but a physician misread the results and failed to diagnose the man with an abnormal gastric mass lesion. Further testing showed the man also had cancer.

Last year, the man filed a lawsuit against the physician, noting that he failed to diagnose the issue, which resulted in additional pain as well as a greater risk of harm. Anyone in Pennsylvania who has suffered as a result of medical negligence should understand the laws regarding these claims.

The statutes of limitations and repose

Under the law, victims of medical malpractice have two years from the date that the injured party discovers his or her condition or should have discovered his or her condition, such as in a failure to diagnose case. Therefore, if it has been two years since the incident but the victim only recently learned about how the mistake did harm, it is still possible to file a lawsuit.

The Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Act in 2002 established a statute of repose regarding medical malpractice claims. It states that victims must file a lawsuit with seven years of the incident, whether or not it has been two years since the injury was discovered.

Available damages

The following three types of damages are available to people who have suffered or families who have lost a loved one to a medical mistake:

• Compensatory: These are to cover actual costs that the person endured, such as medical bills or, in the event of a death, funeral expenses.

• Non-economic: These surround the intangible damages associated with the event, such as pain and suffering.

• Punitive: These are rarely awarded, as they are meant to punish a medical professional or facility that has acted especially negligent or committed fraud.

Pennsylvania, unlike some other states, does not put a limit on how much a victim can recover in these lawsuits.

Proving medical malpractice

There are several items that a plaintiff must prove in a medical malpractice claim. The first is that the defendant had a duty of care to the victim. In other words, the victim must have been in the care of the defendant as a patient, for example.

Next, it must be shown that there was a breach in the duty of care. This can be done through demonstrating that the defendant strayed from what would have been the norm, such as ordering testing or spotting a cause for concern on an X-ray. Lastly, in order to collect damages, a plaintiff must prove that the breach in the care is what caused the harm.

Medical malpractice claims can be complex and involve expert testimony and medical jargon. Anyone who has concerns over this issue should consult with a personal injury attorney in Pennsylvania.