A hospital can be held legally responsible for injuries sustained by patients while in its care in a number of circumstances, so if you live in Pennsylvania or New Jersey and were recently injured while in the hospital, it is vital to obtain the advice of an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
Hospitals can be held legally responsible for the negligence of their employees as long as the employee was acting within the scope of his or her job at the time of the injury. The standard of proof that a plaintiff will need to meet depends on whether the negligence was medical or non-medical in nature. Medical negligence will require the testimony of an expert who can testify as to the standard of care in a particular case, while non-medical negligence is much easier to establish.
Usually, hospitals are not liable for errors made by doctors because these individuals are often independent contractors and not employees of the hospital. However, if a plaintiff can establish that a hospital controlled a doctor’s working hours or vacation time or set the doctor’s fees, a court may decide that a doctor was actually an employee, meaning that the hospital can also be held liable for the doctor’s negligence. However, hospitals can also be held legally responsible for allowing an incompetent or dangerous doctor to have staff privileges if it failed to institute appropriate screening practices or if it should have known that a doctor was incompetent.
In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, an injured party can only file a medical malpractice claim within two years after a plaintiff discovers that:
- An injury occurred;
- The conduct that led to the injury; and
- A relationship exists between the injury and the medical provider’s actions.
However, in Pennsylvania, regardless of when the injury was discovered, an injured party cannot bring a claim if more than seven years have passed since the date the medical error occurred. The only exception to this rule is in cases where a foreign object was left inside a patient’s body.
In both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, a plaintiff must file a sworn affidavit within two months of filing a medical malpractice claim. The affidavit must be signed by the attorney and must confirm that an expert has provided a written statement asserting that:
- There is a reasonable chance that the hospital breached the relevant standard of care;
- The hospital was responsible for the medical care provider who breached the standard of care; or
- Expert testimony is not required to prove the claim.
If a hospital files a counterclaim, it must also include an affidavit of merit. Pennsylvania law also requires that a medical expert provide testimony at trial establishing the appropriate standard of care and how the hospital breached it.
How an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney Can Help
If you live in New Jersey or Pennsylvania and were injured while in the hospital as a result of a medical care provider’s negligence, you may be able to hold both the medical professional and the hospital liable for damages. Please contact Cohen, Placitella, & Roth, P.C. Attorneys at Law, at (215) 567-3500 to schedule a free consultation.