Medical Malpractice — Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Have you suffered injuries due to the negligent conduct of a treating healthcare professional in Pennsylvania? If so, you may be entitled to compensation for the injuries caused by such medical malpractice.
Berger & Lagnese is a Pittsburgh medical malpractice firm with nearly three decades of experience litigating medical malpractice and personal injury claims. At Berger & Lagnese, our experienced medical malpractice attorneys advocate aggressively on behalf of our clients from beginning to end of the litigation process. We always strive to give our clients a competitive edge during negotiations. Call us today at (412) 471-4300, or fill out our online contact form, to schedule a free consultation.
Q: What is the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims in Pennsylvania?
A: In the state of Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is two years from the date that the plaintiff discovers his or her injuries (or alternatively, the date that the plaintiff reasonably should have discovered his or her injuries). For example, suppose that you go in for surgery, and one year later, symptoms begin to appear that alert you to the possibility that the surgery was conducted negligently. Your medical malpractice claim would begin to run from the date that you discovered the injury that was caused by the malpractice.
Q: What is the difference between a mistake and actionable negligence in the medical malpractice context?
A: The difference between a mistake and medical malpractice is fundamentally a question of the standard of care and whether it has been violated by the healthcare professional. The standard of care depends on the circumstances.
Suppose, for example, that the defendant is a healthcare professional who misdiagnosed your illness. The court will assess the standard of care based on expert testimony and argument relating to what another similarly trained healthcare professional would have done in the same circumstances. If another healthcare professional in the same circumstances could have reasonably misdiagnosed you, then the defendant will not be found liable for medical malpractice.
Q: What type of medical errors can lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit?
A: There are a number of different medical errors that commonly lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit. These errors include:
• Failure to diagnose correctly
• Delayed diagnosis
• Medication errors (i.e., prescribing the wrong medication or prescribing the incorrect amount of medication)
• Failure to properly sanitize equipment
• Negligent testing (i.e., improper procedure)
Q: Are there damage caps on what I can recover in my Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawsuit?
A: Pennsylvania does not implement damage caps on compensatory damages (i.e., economic and noneconomic damages, such as wage loss, medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional distress, etc.). Instead, there are very narrow and specific limits imposed on punitive damages, which are only awarded in rare cases where the defendant’s conduct is particularly egregious or malicious in nature. The punitive damage cap for medical malpractice recovery in Pennsylvania is two times the compensatory damages.
Q: What makes a medical malpractice lawsuit challenging?
A: In some states – such as California, where damage caps on medical malpractice recovery limit potential compensation – medical malpractice claims can be challenging to litigate since they tend to be quite expensive. Medical experts will have to be consulted, and investigation of the facts can demand substantial resources. In Pennsylvania, however, much of the challenge in litigating a medical malpractice claim is based on the inequity of power and legitimacy between the patient-victim and the healthcare professional. When you litigate a medical malpractice claim in PA, you will have to overcome the inherent bias that jurors are likely to have toward a healthcare professional, particularly if that professional has had a long and successful career.