If your doctor, or the hospital, hid your injuries or their negligence, you might be entitled to file your case even after the typical deadlines. While Pennsylvania medical malpractice cases usually have a two-year deadline to file, cases where the malpractice is hidden from you may get longer to file. In any case of surgical injuries, failure to diagnose, or other medical negligence, talk to experienced medical malpractice attorneys. The personal injury lawyers at The Reiff Law Firm have decades of experience handling medical malpractice cases in Philadelphia. Contact us for a free consultation about your case.
Medical Malpractice Deadlines in Pennsylvania
Every lawsuit has deadlines attached. For cases based on personal injury and medical malpractice, Pennsylvania generally requires you to file them with a court within two years of the injury, under 42 Pa.C.S. § 5524(2). For medical malpractice cases, the date of the injury is not always so clear. Even more importantly, the injury’s cause is not always clear.
Most of the time, patients do not have medical expertise. Because of this, they may not understand the outcome of a procedure, surgery, test, or other treatment. When doctors get a patient’s permission to perform a procedure, they must get “informed consent.” This means that they must explain the possible outcomes of the procedure. They often explain to patients that pain, discomfort, reduced movement, and other things may be normal side effects of a procedure.
Most patients cannot tell the difference between “normal side effects” and complications. In many cases, surgery may be sore for a while after, but you move on. It may not be until weeks, months, or even years later that you realize you are still in pain and should have gotten better by then.
Often, it is not until a patient seeks a second opinion that they realize they are the victim of negligence. Some injuries may be realized right away. For instance, waking up from surgery with a missing limb, severe nerve pain, or numbness might indicate that something went wrong. In other cases, slight numbness or pain may last for a while before it worries you.
In any of these cases, the two-year deadline for filing a medical malpractice suit does not start until you know of both the injury and its cause. If you feel pain, numbness, or other problems, you know about the injury. You might need to seek a second opinion or go back to your doctor before you know that the injury was the result of negligence. Once you know that, you generally have two years to file your case.
A Doctor’s Reassurances Prevent Patients from Seeking Help
One of the most natural things for a patient to do when they experience pain or discomfort after a procedure is to ask the doctor about it. A good doctor will admit when the surgery did not go according to plan. Hospitals often have procedures for explaining bad outcomes to the patient. This may even include explaining when the doctor did something wrong.
When a case goes wrong, and the doctor is not clear with you, it can feel awful. So many patients lose their trust in their doctor when they refuse to answer questions.
If your doctor actually lies about the outcome, you may not realize you were injured by negligence. When a doctor tells you that your pain, numbness, or discomfort after a procedure is normal, you may believe them. Even months or years after an injury, a doctor may still assure you that it will get better with time. There comes a time where these lies do not work anymore, and patients start to wonder if their doctor is responsible for their injuries.
In some cases, it may take another doctor’s opinion before you understand your doctor has been lying to you about their negligence. Sometimes, this realization of the true cause of your injuries does not come until more than two years after your injury.
These kinds of cases are called “fraudulent concealment” cases. Since Pennsylvania’s two-year deadline does not start to run until you know the cause of your injury, you may still be able to file your case despite the concealment. If you can prove that your doctor gave you affirmative information about your injury’s cause that was untrue, you may be entitled to file your case, even after two years.
In Pennsylvania, under our MCARE Act no case can be filed after seven years, though, even if there was concealment.
Talk to a Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Attorney Today
If you or a loved one has been injured by a doctor’s negligence, talk to our attorneys about it. The experienced lawyers at The Reiff Law Firm help our clients get compensation for their medical injuries. Especially if your doctor or the hospital hid their negligence from you, we will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Call today at (215) 246-9000.