You trust medical professionals to take the best possible care of you and your family. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Thousands of Pennsylvanians are victims of medical malpractice each year. You may have the right to hold health care professionals accountable after they make a severe error.
Medical malpractice claims are complicated, and you might be unsure where to start. In a 2020 report from the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania, victims won 37% of jury medical malpractice verdicts in Pennsylvania. An Altoona medical malpractice attorney may be able to help with your case. Berger and Green have 40 years of experience working on medical malpractice and other personal injury claims in Pennsylvania.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is when a medical professional commits a medical error that harms a patient. Common medical malpractice claims include misdiagnosis, failure to treat, prescription drug errors, surgical or procedural errors, and childbirth injuries.
A misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis can lead to unnecessary or untimely treatments. A misdiagnosis occurs when a medical professional:
- Fails to recognize symptoms and indications
- Does not order medical tests or information
- Misplaces or mislabels test results
Failure to Treat
Common reasons health care professionals fail to treat patients are understaffing and inadequate processes and training. Failure to treat may become a medical malpractice claim when a medical professional:
- Takes a patient out of treatment or a hospital too soon
- Fails to order medical testing or follow up with a patient
- Does not consider a patient’s medical history when treating a patient
Prescription Drug Errors
Prescription drug errors can be caused by the doctors who prescribe them, pharmacists, and pharmaceutical companies. Common errors include incorrectly filling the medication script and failing to identify drug interactions.
Performing surgery on the incorrect body part or wrong person, leaving operating tools inside a person, failing to follow medical procedures, and complications with anesthesia are common errors during surgery.
Birth injuries can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Improper prenatal care or delivery
- Failure to detect fetal distress or when to perform a C-section
- Dropping, shaking, or mishandling a newborn
For a free legal consultation with a medical malpractice lawyer serving Altoona, call 412-661-1400
Do You Have a Medical Malpractice Case?
In order to have a successful medical malpractice claim, you must be able to prove your medical professional was negligent or malicious in intent.
Liable Parties and the Standard of Care
Before filing a medical malpractice case, you must be able to show that your health care professional owed you a legal duty of care. This typically means you must prove that the other party had a professional relationship in which the professional owed you care. This duty applies to a number of medical professionals and establishments, including:
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Pharmacists and technicians
Breach of the Standard of Care
One important aspect of a medical malpractice case is establishing if a medical professional upheld the standard of care for their profession, as not every error is proof of malpractice.
A medical standard of care is a level of treatment that a reasonably competent, skilled health care provider with a similar background and in the same medical community would have delivered. Ultimately, this will require expert testimony by another medical professional in the field.
Injury and Damages
You must prove that the doctor’s neglect caused you or your family injuries and that your injuries were not a natural or possible result of your original condition or procedure. You must also show that the injuries resulted in damages. Damages may be economic or non-economic.
Altoona Medical Malpractice Lawyer Near Me 412-661-1400
Damages You Can Recover in a Medical Malpractice Claim
The Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (MCARE) Act discusses some of the damages victims of medical malpractice can receive. In a medical malpractice case, damages for the following may be included:
- Past and in the future medical bills
- Lost wages
- A decrease in your earning potential
- Suffering and physical pain
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Scarring or disfigurement
Caps on Damages in Medical Malpractice Cases
There is no cap on economic or non-economic medical malpractice damages in Pennsylvania. In Altoona, you can seek compensation for any financial losses linked to your health care professional’s negligence or malice.
The state does put caps on punitive damages. Punitive damages against a single medical professional may not exceed 200% of the compensatory damages granted unless there is evidence of intentional malpractice. Punitive damages, if awarded, must not be less than $100,000. Punitive damages are rarely awarded in medical malpractice cases.
Statute of Limitations on Medical Malpractice Cases in Altoona
Under 42 PA Cons Stat § 5524, the statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims in Pennsylvania is two years. The two years start from the medical professional’s act of malice or negligence or when the patient discovers or reasonably should have discovered the malpractice.
Minors, however, have two years after they turn 18 to file a claim if they were victims of medical malpractice under the tolling statute. If parents or guardians do not want to wait, they are allowed to file a claim before the child turns 18.
Filing a Certificate of Merit
In Pennsylvania, you must also file a certificate of merit when filing a medical malpractice claim or within 60 days of filing a claim under 231 Pa. Code Rule 1042.3. A certificate of merit is a written declaration indicating the case has been reviewed by a licensed expert and that there is cause to suspect the health care provider’s conduct fell below the established standard of care.
The expert who examines your claim must be a licensed professional with the training, education, experience, and understanding to testify convincingly about the provider’s inadequate treatment and how they failed to reach the established standard of care.
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Medical Malpractice Case Services at Berger and Green
A medical malpractice lawyer in Altoona can help you exercise your legal rights as a victim of medical malpractice by valuing your claim while saving you time and money.
With over 40 years of experience, the attorneys at Berger and Green can explain your eligibility and assist you in taking legal action if necessary. To get started with a free consultation of potential medical malpractice lawsuits, call or text today.