Medical Malpractice – FAQ

What is the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice case in Pennsylvania?

Generally, the statute of limitations begins to run on the date of the negligence and expires two years thereafter in Pennsylvania. However, there are exceptions if the patient is a minor, is incapacitated, or if there are special circumstances where a legal concept know as the “Discovery Rule” applies. An attorney should always be contacted to appropriately calculate the statute of limitations as it may vary from case to case. You may contact Carmody and Ging at 412-281-2929 for any specific inquiries.

What is the effect of allowing the statute of limitations to expire?

Generally, you will not be able to pursue the case. There are very few exceptions. You can contact Carmody and Ging at 412-281-2929 for more specific information.

Does a bad result in treatment always mean that there is a malpractice case?

No. Unfortunately, not every patient’s care results in a favorable outcome. However, a bad result may be evidence of negligence. This can only be determined after a careful evaluation of the case by an attorney who emphasizes in medical negligence cases and a medical expert. You may contact Carmody and Ging at 412-281-2929 for further information.

Will a doctor lose his medical license if he is determined to be negligent in a civil action for money damages?

No. A Doctor, as with an attorney, is licensed through the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. A malpractice case does not, in and of itself, have any direct bearing a physician’s license. Most physicians, fortunately, will correct their errant ways after being sued and therefore, malpractice cases serve an important societal function in the increased and improved standard of care.

Does a doctor pay a judgment himself if a verdict was rendered against him?

No. Doctors are legally obligated to to have medical insurance and most have coverage in excess of $1,000,000 and most have more. The physician does not pay the judgment unless he has insufficient coverage. The insurance company pays his attorneys’ fees.

 Are medical malpractice cases and verdicts adversely affecting patient care?

Absolutely not. First, medical malpractice case a/k/a medical negligence cases are very difficult and often are not won, if tried. For example, the Plaintiff only wins 8-12% of the medical negligence cases tried in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Second, medical institutions and physicians are in the business of providing medical services for a fee. Medical malpractice verdicts affect the bottom line through increased future insurance premiums. Hence, both the hospital, the physicians’ practice, and the insurance company evaluate quality care control issues that are proven in a medical negligence action. As such, medical malpractice cases actually help improve the improve the quality of care.

Can I sue my doctor and win if he is negligent, but does not injure me?

No. In medical malpractice cases based upon negligence theories, the Plaintiff (the patient) must prove both causation and damages. In other words, if a doctor misses a diagnosis or performs some other act of negligent he/she is legally negligent. However, if that mistake is immediately detected and remedied without harm to the patient, then there is no case. However, if there is a consequence of the negligent act, then there is a case. This is a very complicated area of the law and if you have any specific questions, you may contact Carmody and Ging at 412-281-2929.

Do I have a right to know about the risks of surgery and available alternatives?

Yes. This, in Pennsylvania is called the “Informed Consent Doctrine”. In essence a doctor is responsible for telling you about all of the known risks of the procedure and available conservative options including therapy etc. If a patient is not told, this action of touching the patient during the surgery is considered to be a battery because it is an unconsented touching. Cases are filed all the time for the lack of informed consent. If you would like to discuss an informed consent issue, call Carmody and Ging at 412-281-2929.

The Pittsburgh Medical Malpractice attorneys at Carmody and Ging will protect your rights.  To contact us, either call (412) 281-2929 or complete our contact form below.

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