What Is the Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice In PA?
January 10, 2023
When you need a medical procedure for an ailment or injury that you have suffered, you are often putting your life quite literally in the doctor’s hands. If everything goes well, you will hopefully be able to return to your life, managing your health and quality of life yourself.
If, however, the medical professional you trusted is negligent and causes errors in your procedure, it can be a devastating blow. It is for this reason that you can hold medical professionals accountable and receive just compensation through medical malpractice cases.
Like everything else, medical malpractice has a statute of limitations that depends on the state. So, what is the statute of limitations for medical malpractice in Pennsylvania? And what do you need to do to ready your case before you file? Our Philadelphia medical malpractice attorney at Wapner Newman can help you prepare and present your case within the statute of limitations and get the compensation you deserve.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice In PA?
According to Pennsylvania law, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice in PA is two years from when the malpractice was first discovered or should have been discovered. This latter stipulation is a little more nebulous.
Many forms of medical malpractice will be immediately obvious. A surgery gone wrong, for instance, is something you can often spot right away. If a patient is given too high a dosage of medication while in hospital care, that will be obvious within a matter of hours. However, some forms of medical malpractice will take time to recognize, such as:
- Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis
- Post-surgery infection
- Long-term treatment negligence.
In these cases, you must file a medical malpractice case within two years of when you reasonably would have discovered the medical malpractice, according to due diligence. For instance, if you started to feel sick not long after your surgery, you might learn then that you have an infection as the result of negligence during your surgery. The beginning of that illness should be the event that would lead you to discover medical malpractice.
Although the aftereffects of medical malpractice can be devastating, it is important to file your case as soon as you are able so that you can receive the compensation you deserve.
What Qualifies as a Medical Malpractice Case In PA?
Not every case of a medical procedure gone wrong will qualify as medical malpractice. Surgeries often come with risks, even when surgeons and other medical professionals do their due diligence. For your case to qualify as medical malpractice, you must be able to prove three different factors:
There Was a Violation of a Standard of Care
Doctors and other medical professionals have a duty of care to their patients. The first thing you have to prove in order to prove medical malpractice is that there was a violation of that standard of care.
Often, this violation of the standard of care is through negligence: the medical professional did not perform their due diligence in your case. They may have ignored your descriptions of symptoms, leading to a crucial misdiagnosis. They may fail to adhere to operating room cleaning procedures, leading to an infection. In some cases, the violation of a standard of care might be malicious, but this is not common or required for a case to be considered medical malpractice.
The Violation Caused Damages or Increased Risk of Harm
The second thing you will need to prove in a medical malpractice case is that the violation of a standard of care directly and factually caused your damages or the following risk of harm. As stated above, many medical procedures come with risks, and most medical professionals disclaim those risks before the procedure. Even with the best doctors, you may have a poor reaction to anesthesia or to a particular medical treatment. This is not medical malpractice.
The key is to draw a direct line from the violation of a standard of care to your damages or risk of harm. You need to prove that the infection you acquired after your surgery was the result of a failure to adhere to operating room cleaning procedures, or that the misdiagnosis was the result of negligence on the doctor’s part. Our experienced attorneys at Wapner Newman will review the evidence with you and help to build a solid case.
The Extent of Your Damages
Finally, you need to prove the extent of your damages. This will impact the compensation you receive. Medical malpractice can leave you overwhelmed with subsequent medical bills or in a financial crisis due to loss of income for the time you were not able to work. In some cases, it can leave you permanently disabled. If a loved one was the victim of medical malpractice and subsequently died, that could have meant a loss of income that you relied on in your household.
In addition to economic damages, you may be entitled to non-economic damages such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship, society, or consortium
You will need to receive an evaluation from a mental health professional to determine and prove the extent of your mental anguish.
What Do You Need to Do Before File Your Medical Malpractice Claim?
If you believe that you have a legitimate medical malpractice claim, Wapner Newman is here to help. There are certain steps you will need to take to prepare your case before you file your claim. We can help you prepare all your documentation and present a compelling case, whether in trial or in a settlement. That said, here is what you will need to do before you file your medical malpractice claim:
Collect and Keep Documentation Relevant to Your Case
A history of appointments with the medical professional who committed the malpractice will help you to establish the relationship you had with them. You will also want to access your health record for the case. Next, if you suffered any physical injuries or ailments because of the malpractice, take pictures. In terms of economic damages, you will want to save:
- Any receipts or medical invoices
- Pay stubs to show loss of income
- Funeral costs in the event of wrongful death.
Speak To Friends and Family or People Willing to Give Testimony
You will also need people that bore witness to the damages you suffered because of the medical malpractice so that they can either testify in court or prepare an affidavit. This may be people who witnessed the malpractice for themselves, can help to establish the relationship with the medical professional involved, or friends and family who can speak to the changes in your life since the malpractice occurred.
Testimony from mental health professionals or other medical experts can speak to the extent of your damages because of medical malpractice. Testimony, whether depositions or affidavits, will typically be gathered and prepared by our attorneys. In some cases, you may also have to give a statement as to the damages that you suffered because of the medical malpractice. Our team will discuss the best course of action for you and help to make this process as pain-free as possible.
Hire Our Legal Team to Represent You
Living through medical malpractice can be overwhelming. It would be even more overwhelming to try to sue for damages on your own. Although there is no law preventing you from filing a medical malpractice suit without representation, self-represented cases or “pro se” cases are much more likely to be dismissed.
The doctor or hospital that you sue will have their own experienced attorneys who will look for ways to trip you up so that they can declare the fault was not theirs. Even if you have a strong pro se case, putting that case together is time-consuming and stressful, taking away from your daily life and time with loved ones.
When you suffer from medical malpractice, you want to know that you have support. That is what our compassionate and experienced legal team offers. We will gather the evidence for your case, prepare depositions and testimonies, and even work with you to determine the amount of damages for which you should sue. Your chances of success are better with an experienced team on your side, and the process will be easier for you.
Did You Suffer a Medical Malpractice in PA? Wapner Newman Will Fight for What You Deserve
We understand that no one wants to file a medical malpractice case. Our clients would prefer that the medical malpractice simply did not happen to them in the first place. However, when a fight is necessary, Wapner Newman is in your corner ready to take up your cause.
Our attorneys are experienced in handling medical malpractice cases in Pennsylvania. We know the law, we know the courts, and we know how sensitive this issue is for our clients. We approach our cases with care, meticulous preparation, and determination to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact Wapner Newman today to set up a free consultation: (215) 569-0900.