Medical Malpractice Guide

     Medical Malpractice Claims—An Informative Guide

Most individuals are not aware that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the USA. According to the latest data on deaths by medical error, approximately 250,000 deaths occur annually.

Add to that the cost of errors that result in disability and loss of income and the date figures are well into the tens of millions. (1) These statistics do not even take into account many times the actual non-reported cases as injured individuals from medical malpractice can choose not to report.

Medical malpractice can occur through either negligence, not following the standard of care prescribed by law, or by omission where errors in judgment lead to the injury of patients through lack of knowledge by medical providers and/or hospitals.

Medical Malpractice Claims are Processed as Civil Tort Claims

Civil tort law is simply defined as an injury to an individual that is accidental and not premeditated. Because an injury is involved, however, compensation could and most times should be sought. (2)

The injuries do not have to take place within a hospital admission or surgery. These can occur when diagnoses are delayed or incorrect, or even when an individual is prescribed home care or rehabilitation which exacerbates or creates a new physical illness or abnormality.

Too many individuals revere the medical profession and allow mistakes to go on while spending a lifetime suffering the consequences.The injuries can be life-changing—physically, mentally, emotionally and of course, financially.

3 Main Components of a Medical Malpractice Injury Claim

All three of these components must be met for a case to proceed and be won ultimately.

  1. Meeting the approved Standard of Care (3)

This is the most crucial component. There is a Standard of Care that is universal in the United States and is issued under the auspices of the American Medical Association. Any plaintiff (the individual filing the lawsuit) must first prove that the Standard of Care was breached.

The Standard of Care applies to the reasonableness of the care that was provided and that a majority of providers would have provided the same or almost the same type of care.

  • There must be an injury

If no injury did occur, there is no case. The injury can be physical, mental, emotional, or financial. Some patients can incur the most tragic negligence or omission, but if no injury is apparent of any type, an attorney generally will not proceed.

A good medical malpractice attorney will look into not just present injuries but those that might occur years after the circumstances. It is not uncommon for the full extent of an injury due to medical negligence or omission to be not apparent immediately.

Problems can appear years later as depression, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), or an ability to maintain a career due to developing health problems related to initial negligence or omission.

  • Disclosure of material risks, treatment options, and fiduciary benefits

This is called the “Duty to Inform” and each physician must adhere to these rules of disclosure. If there is a simpler treatment that is less invasive or even less costly, this must be disclosed.

While fiduciary is a term mostly used in the financial fields, that pertains to loyalty to a client’s best interests, physicians also have a fiduciary duty to ensure that their loyalty is also only to their patients and not to the procedures or the cost of the procedures.

It also can apply to doctors who have investments in certain medical devices or other outside interests. Doctors are free as individuals to invest or even work for more than one medical facility at a time, so fiduciary responsibility cannot be taken lightly. (4)

The three main components need evaluation by a seasoned malpractice attorney as the quality of life and sometimes life itself are at stake. Years of regret can follow if an attorney is not consulted and medical treatment or a procedure goes awry.

Summary–Informative Guide on Medical Malpractice

When suspecting an injury from medical malpractice, negligence, or omission it is important to act quickly. There is a Statute of Limitations that all attorneys who practice this craft are well aware of. In PA is it generally two years which goes quickly given all the filings and fact-finding needed.

Even if hospitalized for months, it is possible to arrange a video conferencing call or even a hospital visit by an attorney to protect the patient’s rights to the fullest. Pictures of injuries or an interview with the plaintiff at the time of the injury are immensely helpful.

All doctors and hospitals have large insurance companies to protect them, the defendants, and all patients should have the name and contact information of a good medical malpractice attorney on hand before undergoing any procedures, or in the event of an accident that results in incompetent medical treatment.

The time to evaluate attorneys is before they are needed for malpractice claims. Most individuals do not do this, however, so Hoey Legal, led by Christian J. Hoey, Esquire, does offer free consultations if any type of medical malpractice is even suspected. The team at Hoey Legal of Paoli, in Chester County, PA fights to win and shows unparalleled devotion to all clients.

Distracted Driving

Pennsylvania defines distracted driving as “an activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” Drivers have to focus on driving, so they can react to the information on the road, such as road conditions, hazards and other drivers. Distracted drivers do not react appropriately and thus put others at risk for severe injury or death. Examples of distractions, besides using cell phones and texting, include drinking, eating, adjusting the radio, adjusting climate controls, adjusting seats, combing hair, putting on make-up, daydreaming, reaching for dropped items, engaging in heavy conversations, and focusing on events outside of the car.

Driving Under the Influence

Driving under the influence typically refers to alcohol use, but drug use can also impair drivers and cause severe car accidents.  In either situation, enjoying cocktails at happy hour, celebrating with drugs or alcohol, drinking too much wine for dinner and unwinding after a long week at work results in too many motorists driving under the influence.  Controlled substances impact each person differently, making it common for someone to misjudge his or her level of impairment.  These poor judgments can lead to severe and sometimes fatal car accidents.

Driver Fatigue

Driving without enough sleep is commonplace for many in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and across the nation. Truck drivers, shift workers, and those with sleep disorders are most vulnerable to causing an accident because they are drowsy or fatigued. Not having enough rest slows down reaction time and impairs the senses. In fact, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) claims that eighteen (18) hours without sleep impairs a driver to the same extent as someone who has a 0.08 blood or breath alcohol concentration after consuming alcohol.


The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that one-third of all car accidents involve speeding. Drivers who rush, run late, or simply lack patience may choose to speed when they get behind the wheel. Speeding makes it more likely that a driver will lose control of his or her vehicle and makes it more difficult to react to road hazards and other vehicles. Speeding also increases the impact of a car accident and makes it far less likely that a negligent driver may maintain control of his vehicle sufficient to prevent a collision. High speed car accidents make it far more likely that those involved will suffer severe injuries or death.


At HoeyLegal, we know from our litigation experience that tractor-trailer drivers often operate at least one cellular phone which is in use at, during, or immediately prior to a tractor-trailer accident. Additionally, most tractor-trailers are equipped with data recorders which capture, in real-time, important vehicle operation events including speed, hard braking and other evasive maneuvers taken by the operator and the tractor-trailer.  It is imperative that this evidence be obtained before it is destroyed.  At HoeyLegal, our trial attorneys will obtain any necessary court order to preserve this evidence for trial.


Oftentimes, there are several defendants responsible for the tractor-trailer accident. In most cases, at least two defendants are responsible for the ownership and operation of the tractor-trailer.  There may be additional defendants responsible for the hiring and retention of the tractor-trailer driver.  At HoeyLegal, our investigators will promptly identify the responsible defendants and immediately request the preservation of all evidence related to the hiring and retention of the driver, inspection of the vehicles and the supervision and drug/alcohol testing of the vehicle operator.


Our accident investigators include mechanics who will immediately respond to the accident site and the location where the truck has been impounded in order to photograph the truck and conduct necessary mechanical inspections of the vehicle. In the event that a court order is necessary to examine and inspect the trucks, HoeyLegal Attorneys will promptly file the necessary motions to enable the HoeyLegal mechanics and inspectors to conduct a prompt evaluation of the mechanical function of the at-fault tractor-trailer


Our expert accident investigators include former Pennsylvania State Police accident investigators and nationally recognized engineers who will carefully photograph the accident scene and conduct all necessary measurements of skid marks, yaw marks, displacement of debris and thoroughly examine the accident site to preserve all evidence for the time of trial.


Our investigators will promptly interview and record all witnesses that observed the accident and collect all biographical information from the witnesses so they will available to testify on your behalf at trial.

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