If you’ve been injured by a negligent doctor or medical provider, you have the right to take legal action to seek compensation for your losses. Medical malpractice claims are among the most complex when it comes to personal injury litigation, which is why it’s imperative to work with an experienced law firm. Your lawyer will be able to answer all your legal questions, including how long it will take to settle your claim.
While there’s no way to know exactly how long it will take to settle your case, understanding the claims process can give you an idea of what you’ll go through to pursue the compensation you need to recover. To get an idea of what’s to come with a med mal claim, let’s start by taking a look at the investigation process.
Investigating Medical Malpractice in Philadelphia
A thorough investigation helps to build a strong foundation for any medical malpractice claim. There are a number of steps involved in the investigatory process, which we’ll break down for you as we pursue your claim.
We’ll start by gathering the facts. It’s important to have a full understanding of what you believe happened in your specific situation. This will include obtaining evidence like your medical history—which could include admitting history, discharge summary, operative reports, progress notes, physician orders, nurses’ notes, consultation, anesthesia, medications, radiology, and laboratory information.
Medical records are used to determine why a patient went to the hospital and what happened during their course of treatment. A medical malpractice attorney will conduct some basic medical research to try to determine what went wrong and why.
Elements of a Successful Med Mal Claim
Once the investigation is complete, your lawyer can begin building your case. There are certain elements that must be present for a medical malpractice claim to be successful.
- Doctor-Patient Relationship. The first part of a successful claim involves proving an official relationship existed between the patient and doctor. This means that the doctor agreed to treat you and you agreed to be treated. For example, you cannot sue a doctor who gives you advice outside of a medical setting where you haven’t asked to be officially treated. Confirming a doctor-patient relationship is often done by looking at a patient’s medical record.
- Negligence. For a doctor to be deemed negligent, they have to have breached the medical standard of care. Practicing within the standard of care means evaluating, treating, and diagnosing a patient in a way that another doctor within the same specialty would.
- Injury. Proving injury can be hard depending on the condition that brought you into the hospital in the first place. Common examples of injuries from medical malpractice include wrong-site surgery, allergic reactions to medication, and suffering complications from a misdiagnosis.
- Damages. The injury you sustained because of your doctor’s negligence has to have led to specific damages, i.e. losses. Examples include physical pain, medical bills, mental anguish, and lost work or lost earning capacity.
Once your claim is built and backed by expert witness testimony, you’ll have the evidence you need to seek full monetary recovery. Let’s take a look at why working with a medical expert is crucial to any malpractice claim.
The Importance of Expert Witness Testimony
Once the facts and evidence have been gathered, the attorney will begin looking for experts and gathering witness testimony. A medical expert’s opinion is crucial to any malpractice case, as it often establishes why and how negligence occurred.
Almost all medical malpractice cases require testimony from an expert witness. This is because a medical expert can determine if the doctor in question followed the standard of care and, if they didn’t, how that failure contributed to the patient’s injuries.
To qualify as a medical expert, the doctor will need to have a combination of academic and practical experience in the same specialty as the negligent doctor. At Shrager & Sachs, we have connections with some of the leading physicians in the country, so we’ll have the right expert for your case.
The Certificate of Merit in Pennsylvania
State laws vary when it comes to medical expert requirements. Your lawyer will have a comprehensive understanding of the law that could affect your claim, so you have everything you need to receive compensation for your losses.
If you’re filing a claim in Philadelphia, 231 Pennsylvania Code section 1042.3 requires you or your attorney to file a signed certificate of merit. This document must state than an appropriate licensed professional has reviewed your claim and believes there is reasonable probability that the defendant’s conduct fell outside acceptable professional standards and caused you harm.
It’s important to note that the certificate of merit has to be filed along with the initial complaint that lays out the allegations against the defendant. If it’s not filed at the same time, the plaintiff has 60 days to ensure the document is properly submitted.
While the doctor consulted for the certificate does not need to be the same medical expert who testifies on your behalf, they can be. Depending on your case, it may be to your benefit to have the support and testimony of a number of different doctors.
Maximize Your Recovery with Shrager & Sachs
The personal injury lawyers at Shrager & Sachs have a proven track record of helping medical malpractice victims receive the compensation they need to recover and get their lives back in order. While the process can take time, we’ll be with you every step of the way. Even if it takes years to settle your claim, we won’t stop until justice has been served and the negligent physician is held accountable for your injuries and suffering.
With the statute of limitations in place, it’s best to get in touch with an attorney as soon as possible once you believe you’ve been wrongfully injured. This will ensure paperwork is filed properly and all deadlines are met. To learn more about your legal rights and options or to get started with the claims process, schedule a free consultation with our firm today.