When you hire a professional, such as a doctor, lawyer, dentist, or accountant, you trust that he or she is competent to do work you are paying them to perform. After all, they are the professionals, with advanced degrees and experience. Unfortunately, sometimes professionals perform substandard work, causing financial harm or physical injury to their clients. When this happens, a lawyer can help victims recover financial compensation for damages through a professional malpractice lawsuit.
Although the most common type of professional malpractice is medical malpractice, all professionals can be negligent—including nurses, architects, dentists, hygienists, and lawyers. Professionals are held to a higher standard of care than the general public. In a malpractice lawsuit, the jury must determine whether the professional exercised the appropriate “standard of care.” In general, the jury must determine whether the defendant acted with the same level of care any other reasonably prudent professional in that line of work, under the same circumstances, would exercise. For example, a surgical physician practicing in Philadelphia would be held to the standard of a reasonably prudent surgeon in a major metropolitan area.
Proving Professional Malpractice
Proving malpractice can be a challenge. For this reason, it is wise to consult a reputable lawyer with experience handling professional malpractice cases. Just because a professional chose a strategy that proved unsuccessful, that does not always mean that they engaged in malpractice. For example, if a doctor attempts to apply a groundbreaking new treatment option that is well-regarded, but fails to cure the disease, it would likely not be considered malpractice if another reasonable doctor under the same circumstances could have chosen that course of action.
To prove professional malpractice a plaintiff must show that the professional: (1) owed a duty of care; (2) breached that duty (by making a mistake or failing to do what they agreed to do); (3) causation (that the negligent conduct caused actual harm); and (4) damages (the harm resulted in losses).
Not every lost case amounts to a legal malpractice lawsuit. However, if the lawyer simply stopped working on a client’s case, missed deadlines, resulting in a dismissal of the case from court, recommends a settlement for far less than the case was originally worth, breaches the client’s confidentiality, or settles the case without client approval, the individual may be entitled to compensation for losses resulting from the lawyer’s negligence.
In Pennsylvania, there is a two-year statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims. This means that Pennsylvania patients generally have two years to file a lawsuit for their injuries, starting when they knew or reasonably should have known of their injury. All medical malpractice claims must be brought within seven years of the date of the injury, with the exception of foreign objects left inside the body during medical procedures, such as surgical sponges. If medical malpractice results in death, the estate must file the case within two years of the date of death.
Pennsylvania also has special requirements regarding expert medical testimony. A victim’s lawyers must file a “certificate of merit” within 60 days of the filing of a medical malpractice lawsuit, attesting that an expert has certified in writing that it is likely that the defendant breached the standard of care and an expert is not needed to pursue the claim.
Dental malpractice can include injuries to the nerve tissue, defective crown and bridge work, prescribing contraindicated mediations, extraction of healthy teeth, or injuring the jaw while fixing a tooth.
Accountants and other financial professionals can commit financial malpractice, causing serious fiscal injury to their clients. If a financial advisor gave advice on an area where they had no expertise, failed to fully explain the implications of an investment strategy, or failed to assess a client’s financial situation prior to giving advice, and any of those actions caused the client to suffer financial losses, he or she may have a viable claim for malpractice.
Philadelphia Professional Malpractice Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates P.C. Represent Victims of All Types of Professional Malpractice
The experienced litigators at Sidney L. Gold & Associates P.C. know how to gather evidence in professional malpractice cases, and utilize it to make a strong case for our clients. To schedule a consultation with one of our skilled Philadelphia professional malpractice lawyers in our Center City Philadelphia office, call us today at 215-569-1999 or contact us.