Pittsburgh Medical Malpractice Lawyers
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How Do You Prove Medical Malpractice?
Whether you’ve suffered a maternal birth injury or a delayed diagnosis, you can hold medical practitioners and their employers accountable for life-altering injuries, as long as they are the result of negligence. Because doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals must train for decades in order to qualify for their roles, they are expected to adhere to a strict code of professional conduct, and do everything they can to improve the lives of their patients. Additionally, they also have a duty to meet the “standard of care” that is generally considered reasonable for each procedure or examination.
When physicians fail to offer the baseline standard of care, this can constitute negligence. However, you cannot simply file a lawsuit because you did not like your doctor: You need to show that their violation of the care standard directly led to a disabling or long-term injury, whether for you or for a family member. The burden of proof falls on the plaintiff (you) to show how their injuries stemmed from this violation.
This means you must prove the following in order to have a medical malpractice case:
- That there was a violation of the standard of care. This is often accomplished by relying on expert witness testimony and confirming that your physician did violate the accepted standard of care.
- That there was a “factual cause.” You can only prove medical malpractice if you show that there was sufficient “factual cause” between the violation and the injuries that you suffered.
- That you endured damages. There must be concrete evidence that you suffered losses as a result of malpractice, from medical expenses to pain and suffering to a new life-altering condition.
In Pennsylvania, there is also an additional condition you must meet before your claim ever sees court time. Once you file your lawsuit, you will need to file a “Certificate of Merit” which is signed by an expert witness. This means you must find a medical professional who is willing to support your claim that the treatment fell outside of the standard of care. The idea with this practice is to limit frivolous lawsuits, so it’s important to review your case with a seasoned attorney before moving forward with a case, as it will increase your odds of finding the right witness for your needs.
How Long Do I Have to Sue a Doctor for Malpractice?
In every personal injury case – including medical malpractice claims – you must be sure to file your claim within the legally-allowed timeframe, or the “statute of limitations.” This differs in every state, and each state also has different rules about which lawsuits may be brought before a court or into trial. In Pennsylvania, you have 2 years from the date of malpractice to file a lawsuit against either a doctor, a hospital, or both.