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.
If you or a loved one is a victim of medical malpractice in Philadelphia, we can help. Youman & Caputo is an exceptional medical malpractice law firm that has attained record-breaking settlements and verdicts for past clients – including over 100 results that exceeded $1 million. Contact us today at (215) 302-1999 to request a free case consultation with one of our reputable medical malpractice attorneys.
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What Are Common Cases of Medical Malpractice in Philadelphia?
What is a Standard of Care?
Recognizing Signs of Medical Malpractice
Proving Medical Malpractice
What is a Medical Expert?
What is the Process of a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Time Limitations for Medical Malpractice Claims
What is Comparative Negligence?
Compensation Available in a Medical Malpractice Case
Cost of a Medical Malpractice Attorney
Medical Malpractice FAQs
The Right Medical Malpractice Lawyer Makes a Difference
Speak to an Attorney Today
Medical malpractice is a highly nuanced field of personal injury law. There are many different ways in which a medical practitioner can fall short of the correct standards of patient care, resulting in patient injuries. 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 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.
Unfortunately, not every instance of a patient being injured by a medical provider will result in a valid claim for medical malpractice. That’s because medical malpractice in Pennsylvania has a specific legal definition, and unfortunately, it doesn’t cover everything.
As previously stated, 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. So, to prove medical malpractice, a patient has to show (1) that a standard of care exists, (2) that the medical provider in question did not act within that standard of care, (3) that the patient was injured, and (4) that the medical provider’s actions caused the patient’s injuries.
Here are some signs that you may be a victim of medical malpractice:
(1) Unexpected and unrelated severe side effects
If you are experiencing severe side effects following an operation or procedure that aren’t related to the procedure, or for which you weren’t warned about before the procedure, it’s possible that additional damage was inflicted during the procedure.
(2) Seemingly reckless conduct by your doctor
In rare situations, doctors are reckless in taking care of their patients, which gives rise to medical malpractice claims. Recklessness occurs when actions are unquestionably imprudent, such as when a doctor is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or when a doctor isn’t qualified to perform a procedure.
(3) A second opinion different than your initial diagnosis
If medical treatment seems to be making things worse, rather than better, many patients choose to seek out a second opinion and consult a second doctor. If a second doctor provides an opinion that is very different than an initial diagnosis, that could be a sign that the first doctor made a serious mistake.
(4) Communication problems with your healthcare provider
Generally, healthcare providers are obligated to communicate with their patients regarding their patients’ medical treatment, in terms of answering the patients’ questions, checking-in on follow up care, and being diligent about remaining available to provide information. If a healthcare provider suddenly stops communicating with you, it could be a sign that they’re trying to avoid you.
Sometimes, though, there are certain signs that indicate a malpractice claim would not be successful. Among those signs are when a pre-existing condition worsens or when a condition is untreatable. Unfortunately, sometimes, medical situations can be avoided by earlier detection or by a different course of action, but unless a doctor’s conduct is specifically below a standard of care that would be provided by any reasonable doctor, a medical malpractice claim does not exist.
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.
A medical malpractice claim consists of four main elements of proof:
Every medical professional takes an oath to use a reasonable degree of care and skill when caring for patients. If a medical provider falls short of this duty of care, causing a preventable injury or harm to a patient, there are grounds for a medical malpractice claim. Youman & Caputo can help you prove your case by collecting evidence of medical negligence and malpractice, including testimony from a qualified medical expert.
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.
There are two types of damages (financial compensation) available in a medical malpractice case: compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages are the most common, as punitive damages are only awarded when a defendant is guilty of gross negligence, recklessness or maliciousness. Punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant, while compensatory damages are designed to make a victim whole again.
Compensatory damages pay for a victim’s economic and noneconomic losses. Economic losses are the tangible, financial and specific losses experienced by a victim of medical malpractice. They often include:
In addition to compensation for your tangible, economic losses, you may also get compensation for intangible losses. Referred to as non-economic damages, intangible losses can include:
You could be eligible to collect financial compensation for all of these losses and more as a victim of medical malpractice. Determining the value of your claim requires the professional skill of a Philadelphia medical malpractice attorney, particularly to estimate expected, future losses. Don’t accept an insurance settlement until you’ve spoken to a lawyer about the true value of your case.
You may be avoiding calling an attorney because you’re afraid of racking up legal fees. But did you know that most firms, including Youman & Caputo, don’t charge anything up front for taking on a medical malpractice case?
We only collect attorneys’ fees if and when we recover compensation for you, whether by settlement or by taking your case to trial. If we aren’t able to recover compensation for you, we’ll foot the bill for any work we put in to your case. This type of fee arrangement is known in the legal world as a contingency fee arrangement, and it’s commonly used by firms that represent plaintiffs in personal injury cases like Youman & Caputo.
In addition to no fees upfront, we also offer free consultations to our clients, at no cost at all. During your medical malpractice legal consultation, we will listen to your story, take your information, and ask questions. From there, we’ll thoroughly evaluate all aspects of your case, including liability and damages, and if we determine that you have a valid case, we will aggressively represent your interests to maximize your recovery.
In Pennsylvania, the deadline for filing a medical malpractice case is two years from the date you discovered (or should have discovered) your injuries, or two years from the date of the injury – whichever is longer. If you suspect you may have a medical malpractice claim, it’s important that you don’t wait too long to talk to a lawyer.
The amount of money you can recover in a medical malpractice case varies depending on the facts of your case – specifically, on how egregious your doctor’s conduct was. In Pennsylvania, malpractice plaintiffs can recover for their injuries, for pain and suffering, for lost wages due to the injury, and in some cases, for punitive damages against your doctor.
While a medical malpractice claim on behalf of a deceased person can be made without an autopsy, requesting an autopsy makes a case much, much stronger than it would be without an autopsy. Autopsies provide specific evidence about a person’s death that cannot otherwise be obtained.
Yes. A deceased individual’s estate can file a medical malpractice claim on the deceased person’s behalf, and the person’s heirs would receive any damages paid to the estate.
It depends. Some medical malpractice cases are resolved quickly, as hospitals and their insurance companies are sometimes willing to offer quick settlements in exchange for a case being dismissed. Other cases are more complex, and may have evidentiary disputes that need to be resolved before a court, or may require a significant amount of investigatory work. These cases may proceed for months before a settlement offer. In the alternate, if a hospital isn’t willing to settle a case, or if a settlement offer is too low, some cases need to proceed to trial, which can take more than a year to complete.
At your initial consultation, your lawyer should be able to provide a ballpark estimate as to how long your case may take to complete, based on the complexity of the issues and the evidence.
Medical malpractice is one of the most difficult and complicated types of personal injury claims in Pennsylvania. You need an attorney that you can rely upon for years of experience specifically in this practice area, with knowledge of your state’s medical malpractice laws and rules, relationships with local courts and judges, and the ability to provide individualized attention to your case.
It’s critical to hire the right lawyer to represent you if you wish your medical malpractice claim to succeed. At Youman & Caputo, our medical malpractice and wrongful death attorneys in Philadelphia are unparalleled in how they care for clients and litigate these cases. We have obtained some of the largest medical malpractice settlements and verdicts in Pennsylvania’s history – and not by chance. We use a high level of skill in all of our legal services to achieve outstanding results again and again.
If medical malpractice has altered your daily life or diminished your quality of living, you need an attorney who will fight for the compensation that you deserve. You may have a lot on the line as a victim of medical negligence, such as a lifetime of medical expenses or the inability to return to work. Our lawyers will work tirelessly on your behalf to give your case its best odds of success.
If you believe that you are a victim of medical malpractice in Philadelphia or elsewhere in Pennsylvania, contact Youman & Caputo right away at (215) 302-1999 or by sending us a confidential online message for a prompt callback. Our medical malpractice lawyers are passionate about bringing negligent health care professionals to justice and prepared to defend your rights as an injured patient.
“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.
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