Generally, medical malpractice occurs when healthcare providers fail to provide an acceptable standard of care for their patients, which results in their harm or injury. Because of this, several medical malpractice laws were enacted in Pennsylvania to help victims and healthcare providers manage such claims more efficiently.
State statutes, court decisions, and regulations govern these laws, and they are applicable in the same manner throughout the state.
To better understand how these laws may affect your case, you should speak directly with a Pittsburgh medical malpractice lawyer about your situation. The lawyer can guide you through the legal process and help you understand your rights and options.
Your lawyer can investigate your case, gather evidence, find expert witnesses to strengthen your claim, negotiate a settlement, or represent you in court if needed. Here is what you should know about medical malpractice laws in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Statute of Limitations
The first law to understand about medical malpractice cases is the legal timeframe you have to file a claim. This is known as the statute of limitations. Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases is two years.
You have only two years from the date of the injury or the discovery of the injury to file a claim. However, there are some exceptions when the statute of limitations can be extended, such as if the victim was a minor during the incident or the injury wasn’t immediately apparent.
Contributory Negligence Laws
Since a medical malpractice case often results in large sums of financial compensation, a law protects healthcare providers from the victim’s contributory negligence. If the victim contributed to their injuries, the damages awarded may be reduced in proportion to the victim’s percentage of fault.
Expert Testimony in Medical Malpractice Cases
Medical malpractice cases are different from other types of personal injury cases. This is because expert testimonies are usually needed to prove medical malpractice. This is when a qualified professional is asked to testify in court about the standard of care the victim should have received.
Based on these unbiased testimonies, the court can decide if the healthcare provider deviated from that standard. In other types of personal injury cases, such as slip and falls, expert witnesses aren’t as necessary.
Informed Consent & Vicarious Liability
Healthcare providers cannot provide treatment for their patients if they didn’t get informed consent. Informed consent means that the patient is fully informed of the risks, alternatives, and benefits of the proposed treatment and has voluntarily consented to it.
In other situations, healthcare providers can be liable for malpractice if their employees, such as nurses, fail to provide the required duty of care.
Punitive damages aren’t easily awarded in malpractice cases in Pennsylvania. Victims may receive punitive damages only when the medical malpractice was particularly reckless. These damages are meant to punish the healthcare provider for egregious behavior and deter others from engaging in similar conduct.