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.
Not all law firms have the resources and experience to handle medical malpractice cases that result in serious injuries. At Youman & Caputo, however, we have significant experience handling medical malpractice cases and work tirelessly to maximize compensation for our clients. These results include, but are not limited to:
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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
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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 every day in the medical profession, but not all mistakes constitute medical malpractice. To successfully claim medical malpractice, you must be able to prove that the care provided by a doctor or other healthcare professional fell below an acceptable professional standard and that this error caused the 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.
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 layperson.
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 medical malpractice 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 Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations in medical malpractice cases is generally two years from the date that the injury was discovered or should have been discovered. This limit is set by Title 42, Chapter 55 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes – 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5524(2). There are, however, many different situations in which this 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 take 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 by 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 Pennsylvania, each defendant will be responsible for the proportion of the total damages that represent the percentage of fault attributed to them (though any defendant found at least 60 percent at fault will be responsible for paying 100 percent of a judgment). For instance, if a health facility is 50 percent at fault, and the doctor is 50 percent at fault, where damages are $100,000, the health facility and the doctor will each be responsible to pay $50,000.
There are two types of damages (financial awards) available in a medical malpractice case: compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages are the most common, as punitive damages are only awarded in rare and specific circumstances in Pennsylvania. Punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant, while compensatory damages are designed to make a victim whole again. While there are no caps to compensatory damages in Pennsylvania medical malpractice cases, there are caps on the amount of punitive damages available, set by 40 Pa. Stat. § 1303.505. The full text of this statute reads as follows:
(e) Allocation.–Upon the entry of a verdict including an award of punitive damages, the punitive damages portion of the award shall be allocated as follows:
(1) 75% shall be paid to the prevailing party; and (2) 25% shall be paid to the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Fund.
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.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Attorney?
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 upfront 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 into 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.
FAQs About Medical Malpractice in Philadelphia
What is the deadline for filing a medical malpractice case?
In many cases in Pennsylvania, the deadline for filing a medical malpractice case is two years from the date of your injury or the date you discovered (or should have discovered) your injury. This deadline can be longer or shorter depending on the age of the injured party and the nature of the claim. 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.
How much money can I recover in a medical malpractice case?
The amount of money you can recover in a medical malpractice case varies depending on the facts of your case. An important factor is the severity of the injuries, including the extent of medical care required to treat the injuries, the pain and suffering resulting from the injuries, and the amount of lost income.
Is an autopsy required in a medical malpractice case?
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.
Can I file a medical malpractice case after a patient dies?
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.
How long does a medical malpractice case take?
It depends. A small percentage of 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. Most medical malpractice cases require a significant amount of work and proceed for two years or more before there are settlement discussions. Of course, if the defendant isn’t willing to settle a case at all, or to make a fair offer to do so, the case will need to proceed to trial and then possibly an appeal. This can add years to the length of the case.
Where does medical malpractice occur?
A medical malpractice incident can occur in any healthcare setting from a hospital, outpatient facility, clinic, or doctor’s office. However, given that they typically see a much higher volume of patients and house most major surgical procedures, hospitals are a very common location. Here is a list of some of the major hospitals in Philadelphia:
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 to give you the best chance to win your medical malpractice claim. 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 life, 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 healthcare 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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