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Things to Consider Before Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Medical malpractice is a type of tort, or civil wrongdoing, committed by a health care provider against a patient. When a doctor falls short of the required standards of professional care, resulting in harm to the patient, the victim can pursue a lawsuit for financial compensation. Before you file this type of medical malpractice claim in Philadelphia, prepare for the legal process by asking yourself the following questions.

Who Should Be Named as the Defendant?

The defendant is the party against whom the medical malpractice action is brought. It is the party or parties most at fault for causing your injury or harm. Typically, the defendant in a medical malpractice claim is the individual or entity (or multiple parties) that was in charge of the patient’s health care, such as a doctor, surgeon, hospital or health care center. Before you can file a claim, your lawyer must work with you to determine the correct defendant(s) to identify on your legal documents. 

Do I Have the Required Elements for a Claim?

A medical malpractice cause of action contains four key elements of proof. These are the foundations of your claim – the components that your lawyer must prove to recover financial compensation from a defendant for you. They are:

  1. A duty of care. The defendant must have owed you a duty of care, or an obligation to practice medicine with a reasonable level of skill. A doctor-patient relationship must have existed.
  2. A breach of duty. The defendant must have fallen short of the accepted standards of care, such as by misdiagnosing you, making a surgical error or prescribing you the wrong medication.
  3. Causation. There must be evidence directly linking the defendant’s breach of the duty of care to your injury, illness or a loved one’s death.
  4. Damages. You must have suffered specific, compensable losses because of the defendant’s violation of the duty of care, such as physical injuries or additional medical bills.

You may need a lawyer to review your situation to determine if your case has merit in Philadelphia. They will listen to your story and let you know if you have grounds to sue a medical provider based on the circumstances. Whether you require the services of an Erb’s palsy attorney in Philadelphia or a loved one has suffered a misdiagnosis, we can help.

Do I Have Sufficient Evidence?

It is difficult to prove a medical malpractice lawsuit. It is not enough to believe that your injuries were caused by medical wrongdoing or negligent treatment from your doctor. You and your lawyer must be able to prove it by a preponderance of the evidence, or the “more likely than not” evidentiary standard. The evidence involved in your case must be strong enough to convince a judge or jury that it is more likely so than not so that the defendant is at fault for your injury.

An attorney can help you preserve and collect evidence to support your case, including the medical records and radiology studies. An attorney must also secure medical expert testimony. Pennsylvania law requires a certificate of merit before a medical malpractice claim may be filed. This is a signed statement from an appropriate licensed professional stating that he or she believes there is a reasonable probability that the defendant committed malpractice and that it was the cause of harm.

Am I Within My Time Limit?

In Pennsylvania, a law known as the statute of limitations places a deadline on your right to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.  For adults, this deadline is a maximum of two years of the date that you knew or reasonably should have known about your injuries.  Sometimes this is the date that the malpractice occurred and, in other cases, it is the date on which you could reasonably have been expected to discover the malpractice.  Different statute of limitations rules apply where the victim of the malpractice is a minor.  If you wait too long until after your deadline has passed, you will lose the right to recover financial compensation.

To discuss your potential medical malpractice claim in more detail, contact an attorney at Youman & Caputo for a free case evaluation in Philadelphia.