If you receive substandard care in a clinical setting, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice suit. In order to recover compensation for the losses you incur, though, you’ll have to compile compelling evidence of liability. You'll also have to meet certain filing deadlines. To help you get started, you can read all about building a strong medical malpractice claim below.
What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?
Just because a medical procedure doesn’t go as planned, it doesn't mean you were the victim of malpractice. To put together a winning claim, you must prove that your provider breached the duty of care owed to you and that you incurred damages as a direct result. In other words, your doctor must have deviated from the most widely accepted standard of care, and you must have experienced complications as a result of his or her negligence.
What Kinds of Damages Can Patients Recover?
In the state of Pennsylvania, personal injury claimants may seek compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, and loss of services like child care, meal prep, and housekeeping. They may pursue non-monetary losses, as well, like pain and suffering, disfigurement, embarrassment and humiliation, and loss of enjoyment in life.
Although punitive awards rarely apply in medical malpractice cases, there are scenarios in which such damages may also be warranted. If the provider acted with reckless indifference, for example, you might be entitled to punitive damages. Destroying critical evidence like medical records is one example of conduct that may warrant a punitive award.
How Long Do Victims of Malpractice Have to File a Suit?
The standard statute of limitations for personal injury suits in Pennsylvania is two years. That means you have two years from the date on which the malpractice occurred — or the date on which you discovered the cause of action — to file a formal lawsuit.
However, if you discover the malpractice more than seven years after it occurred, you lose the right to take legal action, as the state also has a seven-year statute of repose. Additionally, if you are naming a governmental entity as a defendant in your lawsuit (for instance, if you received substandard care at a state or federal facility), be aware of the notice requirements. In Pennsylvania, you must file notice of the claim within six months of the date of injury to preserve a cause of action against a state governmental entity. For federal defendants, you must present a claim to the federal agency out of whose activities the claim arises before filing the lawsuit.
If you think you have grounds for a medical malpractice claim in Pennsylvania, turn to Stine & Associates, P.C. Based in Greensburg and serving clients across Westmoreland County, this firm was founded in 2007 and has established a reputation for providing attentive, strategic, and tailored legal counsel ever since. A proud member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Western Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association, and Pennsylvania Association for Justice, they focus on personal injury law, workers’ compensation, and Social Security disability benefits. To request a consultation with attorney Cindy Stine, visit their website or call (724) 837-0160.