Under both New Jersey and Pennsylvania law, medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional or institution commits medical negligence by breaching the standard of care, which, in turn, causes a direct harm to the patient. Generally, the standard of care for determining medical malpractice is based on how a similarly qualified healthcare professional would have performed under the same or similar circumstances. More specifically, the standard of care is the generally accepted medical practices and procedures all healthcare providers in the same geographic area would use when treating a patient with a particular illness or disorder. The actual standard may vary depending on a number of factors and is determined by the totality of the circumstances.
To prove that a healthcare provider or institution is liable for medical malpractice, the injured patient must prove that:
- the healthcare provider or institution committed an act of medical negligence by breaching the standard of care and;
- the act and thus, the breach, directly resulted in the patient’s injuries. It is not enough that the patient merely sustained the injury during the course of medical treatment. Proving that the breach directly caused the patient’s injury can be difficult. Therefore, testimony from expert witnesses who have extensive medical training is often required.
If you are believe that you have suffered from medical malpractice, it is crucial that you file your complaint against the healthcare provider or institution within your state’s mandated statute of limitations. Under both New Jersey and Pennsylvania law, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is two (2) years. In both states, medical malpractice lawsuits must be brought within two (2) years of the date that the patient discovers or reasonably should have discovered that the injury occurred. Additionally, in Pennsylvania, the “discovery” rule is limited by a seven (7) year ultimate statute of limitations that runs from the date of the actual breach. Therefore, if the injury is discovered more than seven (7) years after the medically negligent act or breach occurred, the injured patient will be barred from filing their medical malpractice claim. The statute of limitations in both states is strictly construed; however, there are several exceptions for minors and birth injuries, so it advisable to consult with an experienced attorney as soon as any medical injury is detected.
Michael J. Dennin, Esq. at The Law Offices of Vincent J. Ciecka, P.C. has protected the rights of people in New Jersey and Pennsylvania since 2005. An accomplished trial lawyer, Michael J. Dennin has successfully obtained significant verdicts and settlements for his clients.