It is with faith and experience that we schedule an appointment with our healthcare provider. After all, why not? Throughout our entire lives we have been directed to the expertise of our local doctor for ailments both minor and serious. As such, when incidents of medical malpractice cause injury to us or a loved one, it is very difficult to get past that failure. Falling within the realm of personal injury law, those injured owing to medical malpractice are entitled to just compensation for their loss and injuries.
Regardless of how it may have happened, when you are suffering from a personal injury of any type it can have severe consequences moving forward. While an accident, whether it is an auto accident, work related incident, or a slip-and-fall in a public setting can happen in an instant, the ongoing pain and trauma might extend years beyond the event. Personal injury cases can cost their victims their mobility, health, and expensive monetary obligations such as ongoing doctor bills and medication.
For Pennsylvanians involved in a personal injury-related accident, finding a personal injury lawyer may well be your best, first step in getting your life back on track after an accident. From the delayed onset of symptoms to unforeseen surgical situations, protecting your legal rights should be of paramount concern after ensuring the best possible health outcomes.
Determining whether you have a valid legal claim begins by looking at how the personal injury is defined in the Keystone State. Let’s look at these legal parameters before touching on how qualified legal representation counsel is critical to ensuring that you receive the resources and help you need to fully recover, or in the event of a wrongful death ensuring that the victim’s loved ones will receive support.
What is Considered a Personal Injury in Pennsylvania?
Legally speaking, Pennsylvania courts define personal injury as an injury to the body, mind, and emotions, which can occur anywhere from the highway to your workplace to the treatment you receive from your doctor should signs of medical malpractice be evident.
When assessing whether or not your injury falls under the rubric of a personal injury claim within the guidelines of the state’s personal injury claim, let’s first look at some Pennsylvania specific laws that apply to the case.
Two factors of immediate concern are statutes of limitations and the legal concept of “shared-fault” when attempting to file a personal injury lawsuit.
State law establishes a statute of limitations of only six months to two years depending on the severity of the injury. As such, you do not want to delay in terms of reaching out to an area attorney for help and consultation. Clearly, since some symptoms are slow to present, time is of the essence when it comes to mounting a legal challenge.
Secondly, as the state operates under a “shared-fault” system, the court will be looking to find any indication that your actions played a role in the accident. This can impact compensation awards based on the fact that any financial judgment would be reduced by the court finding negligence in your actions.
In cases of wrongful death claims for example, medical malpractice insures will look for mitigating circumstances such as the victim not following medical directive and medicine dosages. A qualified Pennsylvania licensed attorney will sit down with you and go over these details.
At the heart of your challenge, you and your attorney will be working to prove what factors led to the injury, who is the responsible party, and finally whether the injury is severe enough to qualify for compensation from the defendant.
In wrongful death cases, your attorney will investigate all potential defendants from the doctor to the hospital to the manufacturer of medical devices if their product was to be found as cause of the tragedy. Indeed, when it comes to assessing who is to blame as the result of a medical malpractice issue, your attorney will look to anyone that might have played a role in the error. Clearly, these cases can become very involved and complex as the number of dependents increase, so having the legal team with the experience you need to prove your case is critical,
That being said however, rather than meekly accepting the first offer, if any, that the insurance company deigns to payout on the claim, retaining an attorney offers you the chance to get what is rightfully owed to you and your family following a personal injury or medical malpractice case.
A key component of a successful wrongful death claim is proving negligence.
Under Pennsylvania, simply becoming the victim of an injury does not entitle the sufferer an immediate settlement with the hospital’s insurance provider. Rather, your medical malpractice attorney will need to establish that negligence played a role in that injury. Towards that end, the following five components must be met to proceed with a medical malpractice case leading to a wrongful death claim. These components include:
- Duty—includes the responsibility of proving that the defendant owed you the duty pf responsible care designed to not cause you any harm,
- Breach—is the effort to prove that the doctor violated standard care that resulted in an injury to you or a loved one,
- Cause in fact—is a legalistic term that simply means that you can prove that there is a correlation between the harmful actions that took place owing to negligence led to the harm you suffered,
- Proximate cause—is the ability to prove a direct linkage between the negative action and the harm you suffered,
- Harm—is the legal requirement to prove that you suffered financial loss or injuries directly owing to the negligence of another.
Sometimes these are referred to the “4D’s of Medical Negligence;” Duty, Deviation (from standard care), Damages, and Direct cause. We know that our health care workers are mandated to “Do No Harm,” but when they do you have legal options.
Clearly, proving negligence is a challenge. This is particularly true because those insurance companies that would be tasked with paying out these claims tend to fight them with an army of litigators and investigators in an attempt to limit or eliminate these claims entirely.
As mentioned previously, we trust our medical professionals to help us and our loved ones in times of trouble. Unfortunately, more than 4,000 surgical mistakes happen each year, and there is an array of ways in which you or a family member might fall victim to one of these mistakes. Of those 4,000 preventable mistakes that occur in the operating theater, 60% lead to temporary illnesses or injuries, a full third of the population, or 33%, suffers some form of permanent harm, and 7% of these incidents results in the death of the patient.
If you or a family member has suffered in this way, say from a surgical error, you are not alone. That is why you should not proceed alone in the aftermath of such a tragic event. Hiring a personal injury or wrongful death attorney is the best way to stress that you understand that you have rights, and that you are more than willing to fight for those rights as needed in court.
Understanding Insurance Company Tactics
A sad reality of the insurance company business model is that for it to succeed it must actively work to limit or eliminate claim payouts. As such, they will employ an array of tactics to delay or kill a personal injury lawsuit. Typically, they will attempt to low-ball a one-time payout quickly, which would fail to address any long term health concerns that later materialize.
Indeed, insurance companies can bring an army of lawyers to bear to stop your claim, so you need an attorney in your corner to make sure that you are not taken advantage of when you most need support in your life.
Your attorney will work diligently to stop the efforts of at-fault insurance companies to devalue your claim or dismiss it outright. The only way to ensure that you receive your just legal compensation, you need to bring on top-notch legal talent.
Call an Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyer in Pennsylvania
If you have been injured in Pennsylvania because of someone else’s negligence, you may have legal grounds to go to court and sue for damages.
Sitting down and discussing your case with a qualified Williamsport personal injury lawyer is important, and the sooner you do so after an accident the better it is for your case.
Every claim is unique, but the law is there to protect you and your family from the carelessness of others. You don’t have to go in alone when you have been injured, so call the Law Office of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann for the superior legal representation you need in the greater Williamsport, PA area.
Call us today for a free consultation, and discover how a caring team of legal representation can see you through these dark times in what probably seems an uphill battle.