Medical errors only qualify as medical malpractice if they meet a strict set of criteria. In brief, you must prove that a doctor’s negligent or incorrect treatment led directly to your injury. Keep reading to learn more about what qualifies as medical malpractice and how you can seek the compensation you may be entitled to collect.
Medical Errors Must Meet Legal Standards to Qualify as Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice involves more than unprofessional care or a negative medical outcome. According to the medical journal Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, a medical malpractice suit must prove:
- That the doctor was legally and professionally duty-bound to provide you with quality care
- That the doctor somehow failed in their duty to provide you with such care
- That the doctor’s failure to provide quality care caused your injury
- That your injury led to measurable financial, physical, or emotional damages.
Only when all four of these conditions are satisfied will you have a medical malpractice case.
Medical malpractice can involve many types of errors, such as:
- Not informing you of risks associated with a treatment
- Improperly prescribing medication
- Misdiagnosing your condition
- Applying improper or unnecessary treatment
- Making an error during surgery
Medical errors may result in any number of injuries, such as:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Permanent disability
- Loss of limbs or organs
- Birth injuries
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You May Qualify for Two Types of Compensation
The first type of compensation you may request is economic damages. These damage awards compensate you for any money you lost due to missing work or money you would have been able to earn in the future if not for your injury. Economic damages may also cover any medical treatment you might need to undo or mitigate the damage done by medical malpractice.
In addition to economic damages, you may be able to collect noneconomic damages. These damage awards compensate you for any physical or emotional suffering you went through because of the malpractice. This may include physical pain, mental stress, and diminished quality of life (e.g., you can no longer perform the work or hobbies you love).
If your medical malpractice case involves the wrongful death of a loved one, you may be eligible for other types of economic and non economic damages, such as funeral expenses or loss of companionship.
If you wish to receive compensation for a medical error done to you, you must file a lawsuit within two years of the malpractice. This is the statute of limitations set by 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 5524 for both personal injury cases and wrongful death cases.
However, the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Act’s statute of repose gives people up to seven years of the alleged malpractice to take legal action, with some exceptions. This is based on the “discovery rule,” and allows claimants who discovered their medical injury past the personal injury statutory deadline to still be able to file. If claimants do not file within seven years, they may lose their right to compensation.
How to Prove Your Medical Malpractice Claim
To prove the four elements of negligence in a medical malpractice claim, you will have to back up your claim with strong evidence. According to 231 Pa. C.S.A. § 1042.3, expert witness testimony (e.g., a statement from a qualified doctor) is a requirement for all medical malpractice cases in Pennsylvania. Other types of evidence you may be able to include in your claim are medical records and other witness testimony.
You can hire a lawyer to gather this evidence for you. A lawyer can also help you calculate the damages you are entitled to receive, negotiate with the doctor’s insurance company for a higher settlement, and answer any legal questions you may have. You do not have to hire a lawyer, but trying to handle a lawsuit while also dealing with your medical malpractice injury can put you under unnecessary stress.
Although the doctor’s insurance company wants to end the case as soon as possible, they do not want to pay you any more than necessary. Your lawyer may negotiate to get you the settlement you need. If the insurance company refuses to negotiate, then you may need to go to court. Your lawyer can handle this as well. They can file paperwork and present evidence on your behalf. A jury will then decide whether or not to award you compensation.
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Berger and Green Can Help You with Your Medical Malpractice Case
Now that you know what qualifies as medical malpractice, you may be interested in discussing your case with a legal representative to see if your case meets those standards. If you are thinking of filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Pittsburgh or the surrounding area, call Berger and Green at (412) 661-1400. We can evaluate your case free of charge, and we do not collect any attorney’s fees until you win your case.
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