Medical malpractice is when a doctor or other medical professional acts in a way that is below the appropriate standard of care and causes injury to a patient. Doctors and other medical professionals must complete years of training to learn how to treat different illnesses and diseases without causing harm. Their training does not end at graduation. They must meet continuing education requirements to keep their license and continue treating patients.
Medical professionals are not expected to have the skill to recognize and cure all conditions and diseases, but they are expected to know and follow standard protocols to avoid causing harm to their patients. These include, when necessary, ordering diagnostic testing and referrals to other medical professionals with the relevant skills and experience necessary to treat a patient. When medical professionals do not follow standard procedures and cause injury to their patients, their actions may constitute medical malpractice.
Some common types of medical malpractice claims are:
Contact our firm for legal advice you can trust. We will thoroughly investigate your medical malpractice case and work aggressively to attain the best possible outcome for you or your loved ones. Call Youman & Caputo at (215) 302-1999 to speak with one of our Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers today.
Errors happen everyday in the medical profession, but not all errors cause injury to patients. To successfully claim medical malpractice, you must be able to prove not just that there was an error, but that the error was the result of the doctor’s substandard care, and the error caused injury.
When we visit a doctor, there is no guarantee that they will be able to cure our ailment or that their treatment will have positive results. A doctor who is not a specialist is only required to have the skill and knowledge that other doctors with the same skill and knowledge possess. A doctor’s treatment of a patient is assessed against what another doctor with the same skill and knowledge would have done in the same circumstances.
Determining what constitutes the applicable medical standard of care is complicated and requires consultation with top medical experts and a thorough review of the relevant medical literature. The fact that a patient suffers a bad outcome following medical treatment does not necessarily mean that the medical professional acted below the standard of care. Complications may arise even when there is no negligence by the doctor.
Knowledge of the risks and complications may be essential to fully assess the applicable standard of care in a case, and determine whether the injury suffered was more or less likely to be the result of negligence.
Often in medical practice there are different methods of treatment recognized as proper for the same ailment. Medical malpractice does not arise just because a doctor does not follow a particular method over another. A patient must prove that either the doctor did not have or did not use the required skill and knowledge to treat the patient, or that the doctor did not exercise the care and judgment of a reasonable doctor with the same skill and experience, in the same circumstances.
Every medical malpractice case requires the participation of an expert medical professional to establish the elements of medical negligence. An expert is required to testify, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, regarding the standard of care in that particular case. Expert testimony also is required to prove that the doctor’s actions deviated from the standard of care, establishing a breach of their duty, and that the deviation was the proximate and legal cause of the patient’s injury.
A medical expert’s testimony is necessary to establish a victim’s case because the issues involved – the treatment received and injury suffered –require knowledge and experience beyond that possessed by a lay person.
If you believe that you have suffered an injury as a result of the negligence of a medical professional, you should contact a medical malpractice lawyer promptly. Medical malpractice claims are complicated and can require months to investigate to determine whether you have a meritorious lawsuit.
The first step in investigating any potential medical malpractice case is gathering the necessary medical records and imaging studies. Our experienced staff at Youman & Caputo will handle that process for you, and at no expense to you, even if the firm does not end up filing a lawsuit.
Once we have all of the necessary records and imaging studies, your potential medical malpractice lawsuit will be screened initially by our on-staff medical professionals and our consulting physicians working with a medical malpractice lawyer. Next, if we believe after our initial review that the case is meritorious, we will hire a highly-credentialed medical expert to evaluate the potential claims.
If the medical expert whom we retain agrees that you have a strong case – that there is clear evidence that a medical professional acted below the standard of care and this conduct was the cause of a serious injury – then we will file a complaint against the parties who are responsible for your injury. At the time of filing the complaint, or later as permitted by the applicable rules, a signed “certificate of merit” must also be filed with the court.
A certificate of merit is a form required when filing a claim against a licensed professional such as a doctor. For a medical malpractice claim, it is the lawyer’s certification that they have obtained a statement from a licensed medical professional who would be qualified to give testimony at trial. The statement must certify that the expert has reviewed the claim and concluded that there is a reasonable probability that the medical professional’s skill or knowledge and care exhibited in the treatment of the victim was below the acceptable standard, and their conduct resulted in the victim’s injury.
After the complaint and certificate of merit are filed, the litigation process begins. Your Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyer at Youman & Caputo will carefully explain every step of the process, and what will be required of you at each step along the way, as well the expected timeframe from beginning to end.
There are strict time limitations for filing catastrophic injury lawsuits with the court. These are called statutes of limitation. Failure to comply with the applicable statute of limitation will result in losing the right to sue forever. In many injury cases, the deadline is two years from the date of the injury but the deadline can be longer or shorter depending on the age of the injured party, the nature of the claim, the date that you became aware of the injury, and the jurisdiction where the injury occurred. If the injury was caused by a government employee, there may be separate notice requirements with their own unique deadlines.
As discussed above, because medical malpractice claims can takes months to investigate, it is critically important that you contact a lawyer as soon as you believe you have suffered an injury as a result of medical malpractice. In addition, with the passage of time, critical evidence can deteriorate or get lost and witness recollection of events may fade. These time limits are strictly adhered to, which is why it is important to contact a Philadelphia medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible after the actions that caused your injury.
In negligence cases, one of the ways that defendants try to avoid liability is blaming the victim for their injury. Being partly at fault for your injury does not automatically deny you a claim for medical malpractice.
In Pennsylvania, as long as the fault apportioned to you is not greater than for the defendant(s), any damages awarded will be reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault attributed to you. For example, if your damages are $100,000 and your fault was determined as 20 percent, you will be entitled to $80,000. If you are 51 percent at fault, then you will not get compensation for any damages.
In some medical malpractice cases, more than one defendant may be legally responsible for your injury. In such cases, each defendant will be responsible for the proportion of the total damages that represents the percentage of fault attributed to them. For instance, if a health facility is 60 percent at fault, and the doctor is 40 percent at fault, where damages are $100,000, the health facility will be responsible for $60,000 and the doctor, $40,000.
In addition to compensation for your tangible, economic losses such as past and future medical bills, lost wages, and loss of income, you may also get compensation for intangible losses such as your pain and suffering, embarrassment and humiliation, disfigurement, and loss of life’s pleasures. Determining the value of your claim requires the professional skill of a Philadelphia medical malpractice attorney, particularly to estimate expected, future losses.
“I reached out to David Caputo to discuss my medical malpractice case. He was very nice, easy to talk to, professional, and willing to take on my case immediately. He was able to resolve my case within a timely manner, outside of court and with zero headache. I honestly felt like he cared about my case and what I went through and therefore he fought for what I deserved.” – Tabitha W.