Medical Malpractice — Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Despite their best efforts, many healthcare professionals fail to adhere to the high standards of care expected of those in their position, thus exposing their patients to a significant risk of injury. Patients are generally in an unenviable position — not only are they forced to shoulder the burden of recovering from their health condition, but they are also quite vulnerable. A patient who lacks medical training is in an unequal relationship with their treating physician or other healthcare professional. There are no significant checks and balances. The patient is in a position where they must trust and rely on the treating healthcare professional to adhere to a strict standard of care.
If you have been injured due to the medical negligence of a doctor, surgeon, nurse, or other healthcare professional, you may be entitled to recover damages pursuant to a medical malpractice claim. However, medical malpractice claims can be complicated. To improve your prospects of obtaining a favorable result, you’ll have to work with a skilled attorney who has a long track record of success in litigating medical malpractice claims in Pennsylvania. Contact Jason Matzus of Matzus Law today to get connected with an experienced Pittsburgh medical malpractice attorney.
Q: What is medical malpractice, exactly?
A: A plaintiff may be entitled to bring a medical malpractice claim against their treating healthcare professional if the defendant failed to adhere to the applicable “standard of care” (which is based on a number of factors, such as the professional’s training and the nature of the patient’s condition), and in doing so, caused the patient to suffer injuries.
Q: Do I have a medical malpractice claim if I did not consent to a procedure?
A: If you did not consent to a particular medical procedure, then you do not necessarily have a claim for medical malpractice — instead, you may have a claim for medical battery (unwanted touching in the medical context). For example, if a physician conducted surgery on you without providing you with adequate information and ample opportunity to reject the surgery, then you may be entitled to damages on the basis of medical battery.
Q: How much time do I have to bring a claim?
A: In Pennsylvania, there is a two-year statute of limitations period for medical malpractice claims. The clock begins to tick from the date that the plaintiff knew or should have known that they suffered a medical malpractice injury. In the event that the deadline passes without a claim having been filed, the plaintiff will no longer be able to recover damages on their claim.
Of course, there are many instances in which a medical malpractice injury is not immediately obvious (and is not reasonably “knowable” until later). In such cases, the statute of limitations period will not begin to run until the date that the injury should reasonably have been discovered.
Q: What are some common acts of negligence that take place in the medical context?
A: Medical negligence is extremely diverse, as there are a number of ways in which a healthcare professional can violate the standard of care and injure the patient. Common acts of negligence include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Inadequate training
- Fatigue from negligent scheduling
- Improper administration of a diagnostic test or other procedure
- Surgical errors
- Failure to sterilize equipment
- Failure to adequately monitor patient
- Delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis
- Failure to provide safe instruction to patient
Q: Are there damage caps on my potential medical malpractice recovery?
A: There are no damage caps on compensatory damages (i.e., economic and non-economic damages, such as wage loss, medical expenses, and pain and suffering), but Pennsylvania law does impose damage caps on punitive damages — specifically, punitive damages are limited to two times the total compensatory damages amount. If you are entitled to $100,000 in compensatory damages, for example, the court may not award more than $200,000 in punitive damages.
Schedule a Free Consultation with the Pittsburgh PA Medical Malpractice Attorneys at Matzus Law Today
Matzus Law is a medical malpractice and personal injury firm that is focused entirely on advocating for the injured party. Litigating a medical malpractice claim isn’t easy. In fact, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll run into some complications along the way (as you pursue litigation). As such, it’s important that you consult with an attorney who is intimately familiar with medical malpractice litigation and who knows how to effectively secure results for their injured clients.
Attorney Jason Matzus has over two decades of experience handling medical malpractice claims in Pennsylvania. He will take the time to assess and understand your claims — with the help of on-staff medical experts — before committing to litigation. Call (412) 206-5300 to schedule a free consultation with one of the Pittsburgh medical malpractice lawyers at Matzus Law.