Three Things Med Mal Attorneys Tell Their Clients

  • If you or a loved one was harmed due to negligence or incompetence of a medical professional or facility, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.  However, medical malpractice law is highly regulated by a complex body of rules, and not every complication, injury or even death that occurs when something goes wrong is grounds for a medical malpractice case.

     

    For a successful claim, the burden of proof is on the injured patient; and if the case goes to trial, Pennsylvania law requires proof of several elements and the sworn testimony of expert witnesses. To make sure you get the compensation you deserve, make sure you enlist the help of an experienced medical malpractice lawyer.

     

    Here are three things medical malpractice attorneys tell their clients to increase their understanding and chances of winning a case:

     

    1) Don’t wait too long before filing a claim.

    The longer you wait, the more difficult it is to win your case; and if you wait too long, your case may be thrown out of court.

     

    Proving medical malpractice requires investigation and gathering of evidence, which may evaporate quickly – records may be lost or destroyed, witnesses may move away and be hard to find, and memories may fade as time goes on, making it more difficult to get the proof you need.

     

    In addition, Pennsylvania has a statute of limitations – the time period after which you may no longer bring a lawsuit. The statute of limitations for bringing medical malpractice claims is two years from the time the patient discovers or reasonably should have discovered that the injury occurred.  A patient who is a minor, under age 18, does not have to start action prior to age 20.

     

    For cases arising after March 2002, there is a 7-year deadline, known as a statute of repose, that starts on the date when the medical malpractice occurred, regardless of whether a patient knew or should have known about their injury. After the 7-year deadline, patients lose the right to sue, with two exceptions:

    • If a foreign object is left in a patient’s body, a case can be brought at any time within 2 years of the patient’s discovery of the problem.
    • If a patient dies, lawsuits must be filed within two years after the death, unless the medical provider misrepresented or fraudulently concealed the cause of death.

     

    2) Gather evidence and keep copies of all bills, records and expenses.

    The burden of proving that medical malpractice occurred is on the patient, and the defense attorney will make every attempt to prove otherwise; therefore, it is up to you and your attorney to produce as much tangible evidence of the malpractice and its costs to you as possible.  Keep records, including all bills and expenses, and a running journal of every doctor visit, medical procedure, surgery, or therapy related to the malpractice.  If there were witnesses to the malpractice, document who they are and obtain statements as to what happened. Document your pain and suffering and any negative effects of the malpractice on your marriage and ability to parent, work, socialize, and enjoy your life.

     

    Always be aware that you will have to prove through the evidence that ...

    • The medical provider owed you a “duty of care” and violated it by committing an act of medical negligence that a healthcare provider in a similar circumstance would not have committed, and
    • The actions or omission of actions by the professional resulted in damages for which you deserve to be compensated.

     

    3) What Compensation May Be Possible?

    If you win a medical malpractice case, you may receive compensation for economic or monetary damages, and for non-economic damages, as well.

     

    Possible economic damages include:

    • Past and future medical expenses
    • Time spent away from work, lost wages and earnings, and past and potential future earnings
    • Funeral costs.

     

    Non-economic damages refer to intangible losses, such as emotional or psychological damage stemming from the injury, including:

    • Pain and suffering
    • Emotional distress and trauma, embarrassment and humiliation
    • Loss of consortium and companionship
    • Disfigurement
    • Loss of enjoyment of life.

     

    In some cases, where a medical professional acted in ways that are deemed malicious and reckless and there was actual intent to harm the patient, punitive damages may also be awarded by the court to discourage similar situations from happening again. Click here to learn more about medical malpractice cases.