When you enter a hospital, whether it’s for a checkup or a medical emergency, the process can be nerve-wracking. You have to put your trust in the medical team treating you and assume they are skilled, caring, and knowledgeable. When that’s not the case, patient injuries are a real possibility. Some of the most common cases we see involve:
- Missed or delayed diagnoses
- Birth injuries
- Surgical mistakes
- Medication errors
- Defective medical products
If you or someone you love suffered harm as a result of a negligent physician or hospital, you may be eligible for compensation to cover your losses. To determine if you have a case, it’s best to consult a West Chester medical malpractice lawyer.
Medical malpractice is an area of personal injury law that allows injured patients to seek compensation after being harmed by a negligent medical provider. These cases are often complex, so it’s important to have strong legal representation by your side. At Shrager & Sachs, our attorneys are dedicated to ensuring our clients are offered the best chance of recovery.
Situations That Lead to Medical Errors
While there’s never an excuse for medical malpractice, your lawyer will need to determine the error that occurred. Some of the most common reasons we see include poor communication, poor record-keeping, understaffing, fatigue, and drug or alcohol dependence.
Doctors and hospital staff need to communicate constantly to ensure patients are receiving the best care. For example, when a doctor orders medication for a patient, the order gets relayed through the system and a number of people, like nurses and the pharmacist. If the pharmacist fails to provide the proper dosage or a nurse administers it incorrectly, the patient could have a reaction.
Poor record-keeping often results in doctors missing important details about a patient’s medical history or allergies. If a physician doesn’t keep accurate records, those treating the patient won’t have all the information they need to ensure what they’re doing won’t cause harm.
It’s no surprise that working in the medical field is stressful. That stress contributes to the understaffing, fatigue, and substance abuse issues. When a facility experiences high turnaround, it might not have the employees with the skills the patients need. When doctors and staff are forced to work longer hours than usual because of the understaffing, fatigue can set in—which significantly clouds a person’s judgment and abilities. When medical professionals fail to handle their stress in a healthy manner, they could turn to alcohol or drugs to cope.
No matter what the circumstances were surrounding your medical injuries, we’ll be sure to take the necessary steps to hold the at-fault party accountable.
Proving Medical Negligence in Pennsylvania
When your lawyer builds your case on the concept of negligence, there are a number of elements that need to be present. First, it needs to be established there was an official doctor-patient relationship. Your medical records can confirm this. This relationship sets up the required standard of care. Then, you need to show how the doctor breached that standard of care. A medical expert can confirm how the physician should have acted. The breach needs to be directly connected to the injuries you sustained. Finally, your attorney can connect your injuries and losses to the compensation you’re seeking.
Prior to all that, however, 231 Pennsylvania Code section 1042.3 requires plaintiffs to file a signed certificate of merit. This document states that a medical expert has looked at your claim and believes there is reasonable probability that the opposing physician’s care fell outside acceptable professional standards and caused you harm. The certificate has to either be filed with the initial complaint within 60 days of filing.
Collecting Compensation for Medical Malpractice
Medical injuries can have a serious financial impact on a family. Filing a personal injury claim is one of the only ways to ensure you receive the money you need to recover. While some cases can settle outside of court, it’s not unheard of for a claim to proceed to trial as a lawsuit. If that happens, it’s imperative you file within the statute of limitations. In PA, you have two years from the time the injuries are discovered to file. If that date passes, you’ll be ineligible for compensation.
Regardless of whether your case settles or you receive a verdict in court, the compensation you receive will be based on the economic and noneconomic damages you incurred. Economic damages cover costs like medical bills, lost wages, and the future cost of care. Noneconomic damages compensate you for pain and suffering and other subjective losses.
There are some special situations in Pennsylvania you should be aware of when it comes to claiming compensation for a med mal case. While rare, punitive damages are sometimes awarded to punish the doctor or medical professional who caused harm. Gross negligence would have to be a factor. If a plaintiff is awarded punitive damages, there is a cap at two times the amount of actual damages. There are no caps for economic and noneconomic damages.
If someone is awarded compensation for future medical, hospital, or rehabilitative damages, a periodic payments rule applies. This means that future damages are paid in payments in the future and reduced to current value.
It’s not uncommon for the opposing party to try to undervalue your claim. Our West Chester attorneys will ensure you’re on track to receiving full and fair compensation, so you have the means to get your life back in order.
Protecting Patient Rights in West Chester
With extensive experience handling even the most complex medical malpractice claim, our West Chester medical malpractice lawyers are prepared to assist you no matter what you’ve been through. Negligent physicians need to understand that they cannot disregard their obligation to comply with the standard of care when they treat patients. Filing a claim could also prevent any other patients from getting harmed by the doctor.
We understand if you’re feeling hesitant about filing a med mal claim. That’s normal. Going up against a doctor or entire medical facility can seem intimidating, but when you’re backed by Shrager & Sachs, we’ll handle the complicated legal conversations and paperwork. That way, you’ll be able to focus on your recovery.
Filing a claim takes time and it’s important to remember that if you don’t reach a settlement, any potential lawsuits are subject to the state’s statute of limitations. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we’ll be able to ensure all deadlines are met so your chances for compensation aren’t jeopardized. Secure your future today.