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February 25th, 2015

Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice – What to Do if You Suspect Medical Negligence

Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice – What to Do if You Suspect Medical Negligence

Many patients and their loved ones who suspect that a medical doctor or specialist was negligent don’t know where to start. There are many questions, such as “how do I know if my doctor was negligent?” or “should I go forward with a medical malpractice lawsuit?”

The reality is that figuring out whether there is a viable medical malpractice case will require advice from a knowledgeable and experienced medical malpractice lawyer. In general, the patient will not be able to determine for sure whether or not their doctor was negligent. It’s incredibly rare for a doctor or specialist to admit to a patient that they made a mistake. Therefore, a lawyer will conduct an evaluation to make that call.

More: Medical Malpractice – Errors in Diagnosis or Misdiagnosis

Costs Involved in the Initial Evaluation of a PA Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

The lawyer will meet with the patient, review medical records and consult with experts to figure out whether a doctor was negligent. This process is time-consuming and costly for the lawyer, who will front or pay the costs involved (getting medical records and hiring experts). This is how personal injury cases, including medical malpractice cases, in Pennsylvania work. The lawyer pays all the costs and gets paid only at the end, if a case is successful. If there is no recovery, the client pays nothing. In other words, the lawyer assumes all the risk.

In a typical medical malpractice case, such as a Philadelphia hospital malpractice case, the expert fees alone can total $10,000 or more. This is just for the initial evaluation to determine whether the doctor was negligent (i.e., breached the standard of care). Costs go upwards from there depending on whether the case goes to trial. Expert fees at trial are much higher. A single expert can charge $500/hour for trial, and the trial fees for that expert can easily total $50,000 or more.

Unfortunately, medical malpractice cases have declined over the last decade, in large part due to major changes in Pennsylvania law. Due to lobbying efforts from medical insurance companies, the MCARE Act (Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Act) and subsequent amendments have raised the bar in terms of being able to sue a medical professional in this state for medical negligence. The Act imposes a time deadline for patients who file medical malpractice lawsuits; within 60 days of filing a lawsuit, the lawyer for the injured patient must file a special affirmation. This affirmation is known as a “certificate of merit” and attests to the fact that a medical expert has reviewed the case and has determined that there is a valid negligence claim against the doctor. The Act basically makes it more difficult for patients to seek legal recourse against their medical providers because of the costs involved to make an initial determination of negligence.

Related: Pennsylvania’s Statute of Limitations in Medical Malpractice Cases – Filing a Certificate of Merit

If you or a loved one believe your doctor was negligent, please call our office to speak with one of our medical malpractice lawyers. Time is usually critical in these cases, so act now. (866) 641-0806

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