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Medical Malpractice Lawyer

When you put your health in the hands of your doctors and something goes wrong due to negligence, the damages can severely affect the rest of your life.  Medical negligence resulting in birth injury can be catastrophic.  Other actions of medical negligence include, but certainly are not limited to, leaving instruments in the body after surgery, operating on the wrong body part, misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose serious illness, and negligence in anesthesia administration are devastating to the patient and can result in violations of Pennsylvania malpractice law.

Medical Malpractice Lawyer Clifford Rieders

If the harm was caused by negligent or incompetent care on the part of medical professionals, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit to obtain compensation for your loss.  However, not everything that goes wrong during a medical procedure is necessarily grounds for medical malpractice.  For a claim to be successful, the burden of proof is on the patient by a preponderance of the evidence.  Therefore it is essential to have a skilled medical malpractice lawyer on your side.

The experienced and compassionate Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawyer Clifford A. Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann has spent decades honing his skills and successfully representing Pennsylvania families who have suffered an injury or loss due to medical negligence and faulty devices. We offer a free consultation to examine your situation and show you how we can help.

What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?

According to Pennsylvania law, medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional commits medical negligence by violating the generally accepted standard of care used by other medical professionals. There is a nationwide standard as to most doctors. The resulting injury must have been a factual cause of the professional’s actions or omission of actions, and the injury must have led to damages.

There are situations in which there may be neglect in connection with use of medical devices or pharmaceuticals. Sometimes a claim may be brought against a manufacturer or someone other than a doctor.

Areas of Medical Malpractice

The law firm, through a number of iterations over the years, stems from the early 1800s.  The firm has handled much litigation over the years.  We have accumulated the names of many potential expert witnesses who may be available to provide consultation on specific medical topics, as well as nurses to help us evaluate potential claims. In Pennsylvania, a lawyer must sign a certificate of merit indicating that he has received a statement from a medical professional. These are complex rules and there are filing dates which pertain. Cliff Rieders wrote THE BOOK on medical and hospital malpractice in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and teaches the subject to lawyers with a great deal of experience.

Cliff Rieders advocates for clients in matters involving the following, among many others:

  • Pharmaceutical damages, prescribing wrong medication or dosage
  • Vitamin and dietary supplements
  • Laboratory errors or ignoring laboratory results
  • Surgical malpractice ,doing unnecessary surgery, leaving a foreign object in the body, or operating on the wrong body part
  • Medical devices
  • Emergency room errors
  • Diagnostic mistakes, including misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of cancer
  • Birth injury, and obstetrical and gynecological injury
  • Head injuries,  brain injuries and concussions
  • Nursing negligence involving LPNs, RNs and nurse practitioners, and physician assistant negligence
  • Ophthalmology cases involving glaucoma, LASIK surgery and other eye conditions
  • Errors involving radiology, CT scans, X-rays and other imaging.

What Compensation Can I Receive?

If you are successful in a medical malpractice claim, you may receive compensation for the following:

1) Economic damages including, but not necessarily limited to:

  • Past, present and future medical expenses such as costs for rehabilitation, therapy, and corrective surgeries
  • Time spent away from work, lost wages and earnings and potential future earnings
  • Funeral costs
  • Other items that are permitted by law.

2) Non-economic damages.  These are intangible and quality-of-life losses such as pain and suffering, emotional distress and trauma, disfigurement, loss of consortium, companionship and loss of life’s pleasures prior to death.

3) Punitive damages.  In some unusual cases, where a medical professional acted in ways that are deemed intentional or with a reckless disregard of the consequences, punitive damages may be awarded to discourage similar situations from happening again.  In Pennsylvania, there is a cap on punitive damages.

The Mcare Act in Pennsylvania covers medical liability actions. Cliff Rieders has written widely on this subject and teaches about the law as well.

Special Situations in Pennsylvania

1) Damage Caps — Pennsylvania has caps on medical malpractice awards for punitive damages at two times the amount of actual damages in the case. Economic and non-economic damages are not limited or capped, but are nevertheless governed by certain rules that govern reasonable limitations.
2) Periodic Payments — Pennsylvania has a “periodic payments rule” for future medical, hospital and rehabilitative damages.  If the future damages as set forth are more than $100,000, the damages will be paid, in the case where a jury makes the award, in periodic future payments reduced to current value. Once again, this is a very complex area of the law and the appellate court cases in Pennsylvania have not fully defined how this system works.
3) Expert Testimony Requirements — Pennsylvania has requirements regarding expert medical witness testimony as follows:

  1. At initial filing — A plaintiff’s attorney must file a “certificate of merit,” signed by the attorney, within 60 days of filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. The affidavit must state that an expert has provided a written statement that asserts one of the following:
  • There is a reasonable probability of breached standard of care
  • The defendant was responsible for the person who breached the standard of care
  • There are circumstances where expert testimony is not needed to pursue the claim.
  1. At trial — Pennsylvania requires testimony of expert witness to establish what the medical standard of care is and that the defendant breached it, “unless negligence is obvious to a lay person.”

Experts who testify must be:

  • a physician who is actively engaged in practicing or teaching and is experienced in the field. In certain circumstances, a physician who is retired may testify, depending upon when the retirement occurred, of the same or a similar specialty as the defendant, and
  • board certified, if available and the defendant is board-certified

The court can waive these requirements if an expert has sufficient training, experience, or knowledge gained from actively practicing or teaching medicine within five years of the date of the injury.

There is much case law and great complexity with respect to who may be an expert witness, under what circumstances, whether expert testimony is needed for liability or for causation as well.  Sometimes experts have to be in the same field, but there are exceptions in this respect as well.  Once again, these are very complex situations.

4) Statute of Limitations — The Pennsylvania statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is two years from the time the patient discovers or, in the exercise of due diligence, should have discovered that the injury occurred. This also is a very complex area of the law, and Cliff Rieders has written about it in his book on medical malpractice. Nothing should be assumed when it comes to the statute of limitations.

For cases after March 2002, injured patients are allowed up to seven years from the date the medically negligent act occurred (two years for death cases). If the injury is discovered more than seven years after the medically negligent act occurred, you will not be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Minors do not have to start action until two (2) years after reaching the age of majority. Pa. Stat. Ann. tit. 40, § 1303.513.

What Are Costs to File?

Medical malpractice lawsuits are typically handled on a contingency fee basis. You do not have to pay any fee unless we recover costs for you. The fee will then be an agreed-upon percentage. Depending upon the case, we may advance the costs of consultations and the costs of litigation, and of course we will discuss this with each potential client.

Put Your Trust in Us. Contact Us for a Free Consultation.

If you or a loved one has suffered from medical malpractice, time is of the essence.  It is essential to have a skilled and knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer on your side, especially since the laws are so complicated.

Whether in settlement negotiations or pursuing a favorable trial verdict, the experienced Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorney Clifford A. Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann is familiar with the law and thoroughly prepared and committed to achieving a just outcome and getting you the compensation you deserve. With our experienced staff, we offer strength in numbers while providing top-notch personal service.

Common Injuries from Medical Malpractice

  • Birth injuries to the child or mother;
  • Emergency room injuries;
  • Head injuries, brain injuries and concussions;
  • Worsening of a serious condition such as cancer, heart problems or strokes due to delayed or missed diagnosis;
  • Eye damage from ophthalmology cases involving glaucoma, LASIK surgery and other eye conditions;
  • Surgery errors that lead to damage or even the loss of the wrong limb;
  • Anesthesia errors that lead to brain damage.


 

What You Should Do If You Suspect Negligence

If you have been harmed due to what you suspect was negligence on the part of a medical professional, you may have a claim for compensation for your losses. However, medical malpractice cases may be difficult to prove, so it’s important to:

  • Contact the professional involved to find out what went wrong and determine whether the problem can be remedied.
  • Know time limits of bringing a case. Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is two years, beginning when the patient discovers or reasonably should have discovered that the injury occurred. Regardless of discovery, the claim must be brought within seven yearsof the date the injury occurred, unless it involves a foreign object left inside the body or a wrongful death.
  • See another medical professional. Consult another physician to review your medical records and certify that the original medical practitioner deviated from accepted medical practices, which resulted in your injuries.
  • Consult an attorney. Medical malpractices are complex, expensive, and difficult to win. You will need to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced medical malpractice attorney to determine whether your medical practitioner was negligent and whether you have a viable malpractice case.

Standards of Care

The standard of care in Pennsylvania is determined by how similarly trained doctors would have treated the same condition. Medical professionals must have the same knowledge and skill and exercise the same care normally used in that profession and also must keep informed of the developments in the profession and use current skills and knowledge. Medical care that significantly violates an understood norm of diagnosis or treatment and causes injury or death to the patient through negligent actions or inactions may violate the standard of care.

How Mistakes Happen

Medical mistakes happen most frequently due to human error, often through negligence or because a medical professional is rushed, exhausted, burned out or distracted.  In addition, mistakes can occur due to reasons such as failure of equipment, erroneous laboratory or diagnostic test results, wrong diagnosis, sloppy practices, poor communication among professionals or the patient and their professionals, poor hygiene that spreads disease, and errors in prescribing or dispensing medication.

Who Can be Liable for Medical Malpractice?

Any type of health care professional, and any medical facility or company they work for, can be held liable for medical malpractice, and more than one party can be responsible.

This may include:

  • Doctors and surgeons
  • Emergency room staff
  • Nurses
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Dentists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Hospitals, clinics and nursing homes
  • Government institutions
  • Pharmaceutical companies.

Most Common Medical Mistakes

Examples of common medical mistakes include:

  • Making an incorrect diagnosis, failure to diagnose, or inappropriate treatment for the diagnosis
  • Prescribing wrong medication or dosage
  • Not considering a patient’s medical history
  • Surgical errors, doing unnecessary surgery or operating on the wrong body part
  • Laboratory errors or ignoring laboratory results
  • Leaving a foreign object in the body after surgery
  • Errors in anesthesia administration
  • Lack of informed consent
  • Nursing negligence involving LPNs, RNs and nurse practitioners, and physician assistant negligence
  • Errors involving radiology, CT scans, X-rays and other imaging.

How to Cope With the Fallout of a Medical Error

If you or a loved one has been seriously damaged or someone has died from a medical error, it can be difficult to cope, especially if the error could have been prevented. To be able to move on, you have to accept the reality of what happened and treat the condition medically or through rehabilitation as best you can.  If you are able to win a lawsuit for malpractice, you will have the benefit of having your financial burdens lifted, your medical and rehabilitative needs paid for, your future secured, and the knowledge that your case may prevent the same thing from happening to someone else.

If you or your loved one has suffered from medical malpractice, do not delay. Consult Cliff Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann by calling 1-800-326-9259 for a free consultation, or use our online contact form.

Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorney Cliff Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann is a Past President of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association. Rieders has won numerous awards and recognition from the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, and he received the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority recognition award. Cliff Rieders was a founder of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority and served on same for 15 years. Rieders was a Law Clerk in the federal court system for one of the most well-known and longest serving federal judges in the country, the Honorable Malcolm Muir. Cliff has received the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, as well as the Milton D. Rosenberg Award from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers. Rieders is on committees and organizations that write the law in many fields of practice. Cliff Rieders was involved in the writing of the Mcare Act, which governs medical liability actions in Pennsylvania. Cliff Rieders wrote the book on medical malpractice that lawyers use in the state.

Cliff teaches the subject of medical malpractice at seminars attended by the leading lawyers in the state. Cliff Rieders is recognized as an outstanding authority in the medical malpractice field. Cliff has even testified before the legislature on medical malpractice laws. Rieders is a nationally Board Certified specialist for Civil Trial and Civil Practice and Procedure, a cum laude graduate of New York University as well as Georgetown University Law Center. Rieders is admitted in Pennsylvania, New York State, District of Columbia and numerous federal courts including the Supreme Court of the United States. Rieders is a life member of the American Law Institute which publishes recommended legal principles utilized throughout the United States. Cliff Rieders is the lawyer that other lawyers call for counsel and advice in the medical and hospital malpractice and pharmaceutical/vitamin supplement fields. Cliff Rieders does substantial work in multi-district litigation in connection with pharmaceutical products and medical devices.

Based in Williamsport, we serve clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania, offering a free consultation on all injury matters. More than that, we offer you experience, knowledge, compassion, and a long history of results.

Medical Malpractice Statistics

According to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC)  Pennsylvania medical malpractice statistics for the 2016 calendar year are as follows:

There were 110 medical malpractice cases tried via jury verdict in 2016, a 7.8 percent increase from the previous year. Nearly 85 percent of the verdicts were in favor of the defense. Seventeen jury cases resulted in a verdict in favor of the plaintiff:

  • 5 verdicts with awards less than $500,000
  • 2 verdicts with awards between $500,000 and $1 million
  • 4 verdicts with awards between $1 million and $5 million
  • 5 verdicts with awards between $5 million and $10 million
  • 1 verdict with an award greater than $10 million.

Laws Related to Medical Malpractice

  1. Caps — There is no cap on economic or non-economic medical malpractice damages in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania does cap punitive damages.
  2. Time — There is a statute of limitations saying an injured patient must file their claim within two yearsof the date on which the defendant healthcare provider committed the alleged medical malpractice or until the plaintiff actually knows or should have known of the injury. No medical malpractice lawsuit may be filed more than seven years from the date the underlying medical error was allegedly committed, unless a foreign object was left in the patient. There is a minor’s tolling rule in Pennsylvania.  The individual who was a minor at the time of the alleged malpractice must file a claim within two (2) years of reaching majority.
  3. Pennsylvania requires a signed “certificate of merit” stating that an “appropriate licensed professional” believes there is a “reasonable probability” that the defendant healthcare provider’s conduct “fell outside acceptable professional standards” and caused the plaintiff’s claimed harm. This certificate must be filed along with the initial complaint or within 60 days after the filing of the complaint. There are times when corporate claims may be brought against the hospital.