Medical Malpractice Claims in Pennsylvania
Medical malpractice claims are some of the most talked about yet least successful personal injury claims. According to research published by the National Institutes of Health in 2009, physicians were successful in defending 80% to 90% of medical malpractice claims that were presented to a jury when the medical evidence of malpractice was weak, 70% of the cases with borderline medical evidence, and 50% of the cases where the medical evidence of malpractice was strong. In addition, between 80% and 90% of the claims that could be deemed “defensible,” in the sense that the doctor could argue, with evidentiary support, that his or her actions were not negligent, were dropped prior to trial with no payments being made.
Rhetoric Versus Fact
Despite the fact that the odds in medical malpractice cases are very much in the doctors’ favor, people are constantly told about baseless medical malpractice claims driving up the costs of healthcare. The ability of individuals to file medical malpractice claims is critical to ensure accountability among the medical community, as well as to ensure that individuals who are injured by the negligent actions of a physician are compensated for the pain, suffering, and impact of the negligent act. But as noted above, medical malpractice claims are regularly unsuccessful. How then, are medical malpractice claims analyzed and pursued?
Negligence is the Basis of a Medical Malpractice Claim
The basis of most medical malpractice claims is negligence. Negligence is a legal theory under which individuals can be held liable for the damages of another if it can be shown that the individual owed a duty of care, that the actions violated that duty of care, and that a person suffered harm because of those negligent actions. In medical malpractice cases, the most challenging aspects are:
- Proving that the actions of the doctor or medical provider deviated from the standard of care, or the normal way of conducting the operation or procedure claimed to have caused the injury. The absence of evidence that the actions were outside the normal standard of care can make a medical malpractice claim unlikely to succeed.
- Showing that the injury claimed was caused by the actions outside the standard of care. Anyone making a medical malpractice claim must be able to prove that the injury they claim to have suffered - whether infection or loss of mobility or other - was a result of the actions of the doctor that were outside the normal standard of care. This can be challenging when the injury itself is not obviously connected to the doctor, as it would be in a situation where the doctor left a surgical tool inside an individual.
However, a skilled attorney will be able to use the available evidence to connect the injury to the action.
Medical Malpractice Claims in Pennsylvania Require an Affidavit of Merit
One of the steps taken by the Pennsylvania legislature to try and limit medical malpractice claims was to require that any negligence lawsuit claiming medical malpractice include an “Affidavit of Merit.” Affidavits of Merit are sworn statements provided by appropriately-experienced physicians that indicate that it is a reasonable possibility that the medical provider whose actions are in question deviated from the standard of care. To be appropriately-experienced, the physician providing the affidavit must practice medicine in the same area as the doctor whose actions are being challenged.
Contact a Pittsburgh Medical Malpractice Attorney for a Consultation About Your Medical Malpractice Case in Pennsylvania
Were you or a loved one injured due to medical malpractice in Pennsylvania? Then you need to talk to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible for guidance on how to proceed. The Pittsburgh medical malpractice attorneys at Berger & Lagnese, LLC are prepared to assist you with your legal claim. We represent victims of negligent surgeons, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists throughout Pennsylvania including Butler, Cranberry Township, Erie, and Greensburg. Call us today at 412-275-4122 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation. Our main office is located at 310 Grant Street Suite 720 Pittsburgh, PA 15219.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.