Medical Malpracice Damages PA
Origins of Medical Malpractice Damages
The origins of medical malpractice damages go back to the Middle Ages. The very first recorded case of medical malpractice was recorded in England back in 1274. The case involved a doctor who treated a patient’s injured hand but the hand did not heal properly. The standard of “due care” was actually established by the judge in this case and is still used today. The judge ruled that if a physician exercised due care and took all reasonable measures, he would not be liable even if the patient was not cured.
The first case of medical malpractice in the United States occurred during George Washington’s time. A man’s wife died after being operated on by a doctor. The man sued the doctor and was awarded 40 English pounds as the judge ruled the doctor did not operate skillfully.
Evolution of Malpractice Law in the United States
Until around the 1800s, most people in the U.S. and Europe believed that being cured or healed was less due to a doctor’s intervention than God’s will. Fate, not the medical profession, was blamed. Medical malpractice damages in PA or elsewhere was very uncommon. It was unheard of except in rare occasions for a doctor to be sued.
In the early 19th century, medical training and oversight became more consistent. Education of doctors became standardized. A prominent physician from Pennsylvania, Dr. R.E. Griffith, argued that lawsuits brought against doctors would benefit medicine by helping to regulate the profession. Charlatans and those without training would be punished more often.
The American Medical Association and Unintended Consequences
Until the American Medical Association (AMA) was founded, medical malpractice damages in PA or elsewhere in the United States did not really become commonplace. Founded in 1846, the organization’s charter included promotion of standardized training of all doctors, as well as making medicine more effective and respected.
Ironically, the more physicians gained respectability and wealth, the more of a target they became for malpractice lawsuits. Between 1840 and 1860, there was an increase of 950% in state appellate courts of medical malpractice cases.
One of the most prominent early lawyers who made his legal reputation from medical malpractice lawsuits was Abraham Lincoln. During the late 1840s and 1850s, he became famous for both defending and prosecuting physicians in malpractice suits.
The First Malpractice Insurance Offerings
The end of the 19th century, insurance companies began offering medical malpractice policies. Medical malpractice damages in PA and the other, at the time, 45 states had exponentially increased. Most doctors of any prominence at all by this time had been sued at least once.
Coverage definition wording included negligence in treatment by the attending physician by something he did or by the lack of adhering to standards of care. This same definition is used today.
Medical Malpractice Today in Pennsylvania
State laws have evolved very differently given the almost two hundred years of legal evolution surrounding medical malpractice. Pennsylvania law, like all state laws in this area, breach of the standard of care as the basis for any legal suit brought against someone or some entity involved in healthcare.
All states have different statutes of limitations that, after expiration, a plaintiff cannot sue. Medical malpractice damages in PA cannot be awarded or brought before the court after two years. The two-year clock starts from the time that the patient or injured party discovers or, using a reasonableness test, should have discovered that he or she has been injured due to a healthcare attendant’s negligence.
Loopholes in the law exist in every state. In Pennsylvania, the law requires “expert testimony” to establish whether the standard of care has been breached. However, the definition of “expert” under the law is very all encompassing. The law states that an expert is someone with five or more years of experience, by practicing healthcare or training in healthcare. This essentially allows just about anyone, no matter how good or bad his or her reputation or qualifications are, to testify as an expert.