When you put your health in the hands of your doctors and something goes wrong due to negligence, the resulting damages can severely affect the rest of your life. For example, medical negligence resulting in birth injury can be catastrophic to both the child and the family. 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. All are devastating to the patient and can result in violations of Pennsylvania malpractice law.
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 Williamsport 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. Our attorneys offer personal attention and loyalty to every client, aggressively fighting for their right to compensation. We offer a free consultation to examine the facts of your case and show you how we can help, so contact us online or call our offices at (570) 323-8711 to set up your free consultation.
Cliff Rieders advocates for clients in matters involving the following, among many others:
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 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. Standard of care refers to what a reasonably prudent healthcare provider would have done under similar circumstances. If the standard of care was breached, and the result is injury or damages to the patient, medical negligence has taken place and a medical malpractice case may be warranted.
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 someone other than a doctor, such as a manufacturer or retail sales representative who recommended the device.
Contact Cliff Rieders at (570) 323-8711 to determine whether you have a viable medical malpractice case.
Attorney Cliff Rieders wrote THE BOOK on medical and hospital malpractice in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This is a leading textbook on medical malpractice, which is used in Pennsylvania by lawyers who work in the field. Cliff is a well-known teacher, media authority, speaker and writer who teaches the subject to lawyers. He has a great deal of experience, testifies frequently, and has helped write Pennsylvania legislation.
The law firm of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann, through a number of iterations over the years, stems from the early 1800s. The firm has handled much litigation since then. 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 for malpractice, and there are filing dates which apply, so it is essential to enlist the help of a skilled and experienced medical malpractice attorney.
If you are successful in a medical malpractice claim, you may receive compensation for the following:
Economic damages, which are damages that can be objectively calculated, 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 reduced or lost potential future earnings
Other items that are permitted by law.
Non-economic damages. These are intangible and quality-of-life losses, such as pain and suffering; emotional distress and trauma; disfigurement; and loss of consortium, companionship and life’s pleasures prior to death.
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.
Special Situations in Pennsylvania
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.
Periodic Payments — Pennsylvania has a “periodic payments rule” for future medical, hospital and rehabilitative damages. In the case where a jury makes the award, if the future damages as set forth are more than $100,000, the damages will be paid 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.
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, a statute of repose of seven years has been created in Pennsylvania. Therefore, even when the tolling rule applies to the ordinary two-year statute of limitations, in most cases, the matter must still be filed within seven years of when the cause of action accrued. The relationship between the statute of repose and the statute of limitations is also a very complex matter. Minors do not have to start action until two (2) years after reaching the age of majority. Pa. Stat. Ann. tit. 40, § 1303.513.
Expert Testimony in Malpractice Lawsuits
What are the Pennsylvania Requirements?
Pennsylvania has requirements regarding expert medical witness testimony as follows:
After Initial Filing — A plaintiff’s attorney must file a “certificate of merit,” signed by the attorney, within 60 days of filing a medical malpractice Complaint. The attorney’s statement must indicate that an expert has provided a written statement that asserts one of the following:
There is a reasonable probability of breached standard of care; or
The defendant was responsible for the person who breached the standard of care; or
There are circumstances where expert testimony is not needed to pursue the claim.
At Trial — Pennsylvania requires testimony of an 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.”
An experts who testifies 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 also exceptions in this respect. Once again, these are very complex situations.
Common Malpractice Questions & Answers
What are Common Mistakes?
– 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.
What are the Most Common Malpractice Injuries?
– 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 Are Pennsylvania 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 do Medical 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.
What if I 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 years of 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 Williamsport medical malpractice attorney to determine whether your medical practitioner was negligent and whether you have a viable malpractice case.
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-(570) 323-8711 for a free consultation.
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.
Why Hire A Medical Malpractice Attorney?
If you believe you have suffered an injury due to medical negligence, it is important to contact an experienced Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorney who will thoroughly review the facts of your case, then clearly lay out your options. At Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann, our seasoned medical malpractice attorneys offer free initial consultations where we will discuss what the process of suing might look like and examine your likelihood of success. Generally, we will not require any payment unless the case is resolved successfully, at which time our fee will be paid as a percentage of the settlement in the case. Costs of the litigation, which may include the cost of hiring an expert witness, court filing fees, and the cost of obtaining medical records are generally paid out of the settlement first, and the contingency fees are paid out of the remainder.
Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Legal Help
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, and it is essential to have a skilled and knowledgeable Williamsport medical malpractice lawyer on your side. Medical malpractice laws are complicated, cases can be complex and require much research and planning, and evidence evaporates quickly. Your medical malpractice attorney will secure your medical records, conduct interviews, supply expert witnesses, find out whether your healthcare provider has had other complaints of negligence in the past, and determine when to settle your case or take it to trial in a timely manner. Having a knowledgeable, compassionate attorney advocating for your health and your future can make all the difference in the award you receive.
Whether in settlement negotiations or pursuing a favorable trial verdict, the skilled Williamsport 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.
ABOUT MEDICAL MALPRACTICE LAWYER CLIFF RIEDERS
Williamsport 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.
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. Contact us online or call our offices today at (570) 323-8711.
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.
Pennsylvania is one of the top five states for medical malpractice settlements, along with New York, California, New Jersey, and Florida. Over 90% of medical malpractice cases wind up being settled out of court. It usually costs more if the case goes to trial, with the average jury amount being over double the average out-of-court settlement.
However, do not be misled. The Patient Safety Authority in Pennsylvania, which Cliff Rieders helped to start and was an early appointee by the Senate, have reported almost one-quarter of a million serious events and incidents in a year. Of these, perhaps 1,400-1,500 result in lawsuit or claim being made.
Laws Related to Medical Malpractice
Caps — There is no cap on economic or non-economic medical malpractice damages in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania does cap punitive damages.
Time — There is a statute of limitations saying an injured patient must file their claim within two years of the date on which the defendant healthcare provider committed the alleged medical malpractice or until the plaintiff knew, or in the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have known of the relationship between the medical care received and the harm. 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.
Certificate of Merit — 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.