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Berks County Legal Blog

Pathologist error leads to needless mastectomy

Many medical malpractice cases in Pennsylvania and elsewhere are predicated on a physician's failure to diagnose an illness. What happens when a doctor "finds" an illness that is not, in fact, present in the patient's body? The filing of a recent medical malpractice case in New York City brings this issue into sharp focus.

A mother from Harlem found a lump in her left breast and underwent a biopsy at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital. According to the pathologist who conducted the biopsy, the woman was suffering from infiltrating ductal carcinoma, the most common form of breast cancer. After receiving the diagnosis, the woman was referred to Lenox Hill Hospital for surgery to remove the tumor. The woman endured a mastectomy of her left breast and several other related medical procedures. Then she learned that she did not have the disease after all.

Chiropractor sued for wrongful death in malpractice case

Residents of Reading and Berks County frequently visit chiropractors for treatment of back pain and joint injury. Chiropractic patients rarely view their treatment as potentially dangerous, but even chiropractors can commit malpractice with catastrophic consequences. A medical malpractice case recently filed in Los Angeles demonstrates how chiropractic treatment of the cervical spine, if not done properly, can lead to serious injury and even death.

The estate of Katie May, a former Playboy model, has brought a wrongful death and malpractice action against the chiropractor who treated her for neck pain in February 2016. The complaint alleges that May sought chiropractic treatment for neck pain. In manipulating May's cervical spine, the chiropractor allegedly performed a maneuver that tore May's left vertebral artery. The torn artery could no longer supply blood to the brain, and the model suffered a fatal stroke.

Medical malpractice suit settles just as trial was about to begin

The image of a lawsuit settling "on the courthouse steps" generally connotes a last-minute agreement by the parties to resolve their dispute without a trial. A real life example of this phenomenon occurred a few days ago in a medical malpractice lawsuit in Berks County court.

Jurors were waiting in the jury room to be called for the voir dire examination when the judge's face appears on a big-screen closed-circuit television. The judge told the jurors that the case had been settled and that the trial they expected to hear would not go forward.

Multi-vehicle accident injures 7

As roads in and around Reading become more crowded, multi-vehicle accidents become more frequent. A recent car accident on Route 61 in Perry Township involved three vehicles and sent seven people to local hospitals.

According to state police at the scene, a car driven by a 22-year-old woman attempted to make a left turn from Bellevue Avenue onto northbound Route 61. She apparently turned too sharply and wound up traveling north in the southbound lane of Route 61. The woman then hit a southbound vehicle head-on, causing both cars to spin. At that point, another southbound vehicle on Route 61 tried to maneuver around the spinning vehicles but struck one of them.

Understanding Pennsylvania's statutes of limitation and repose

Most Pennsylvanians understand that lawsuits must be brought by certain deadlines. In most cases, such as automobile accidents, the deadline is provided by the state's statute of limitation. But in cases involving liability for a defect in a building or other improvement to real property, known as premises liability claims, another deadline is imposed by the statute of repose.

Pennsylvania's statute of limitation states that actions to recover damages for personal injury, wrongful death, trespass, damage to personal property and several other less common kinds of claims must be commenced within two years of the event in question. If a suit to recover on a claim is not filed before the deadline expires, the claim is barred forever. This rule has several exceptions, including the alleged tortfeasor's fraudulent concealment of facts that support the claim.

Jury awards $1 million in medical malpractice case

Pennsylvania courts have long recognized that the failure to prescribe or administer a necessary medication may constitute medical malpractice. In a reversal of this situation, a recent jury verdict in a medical malpractice case resulted in an $1 million award for excessive medication.

In 2011, the patient initially checked in at the hospital emergency room with coughing, lung congestion and shortness of breath. She was treated by the emergency room physician and the emergency room nursing staff. The woman was diagnosed as suffering from bronchitis and hypoxia. She was already taking Coumadin, an anti-coagulant medication that prevents the blood from clotting. The emergency room physician prescribed Lovenox, another anti-coagulant medication that must be administered by injection.

Two-vehicle auto accident kills 1, injures another

Car accidents can happen in just a few seconds. Witnesses often disagree in their accounts of the accident. Victims can be so traumatized that they cannot accurately describe their experiences. And some accidents have no witnesses to help authorities understand what happened. A recent car accident in Penn Township appears to have occurred without any witnesses, and police are relying on their accident reconstruction experts to help them understand the accident.

The accident occurred shortly before 6 a.m. on Monday, May 29. According to troopers on the scene, the driver of a pick-up truck was heading north in a rainstorm when he lost control. The truck crossed into the southbound lane and collided with an SUV that was headed south. Both vehicles were severely damaged. The driver of the SUV was pronounced dead at the scene, and the driver of the pick-up was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment of what police described as moderate injuries.

The factors that make low-speed collisions high-risk incidents

Car accidents can vary in the type and severity of the injuries and damage they cause. No matter the type or cause of a car crash, any time a person suffers an injury it is a serious situation. Even a low-speed accident can cause significant damage, leaving innocent victims in pain and dealing with other serious consequences. 

If you were hurt in a low-speed accident, you may think that you do not have grounds to seek financial compensation because your accident may not seem that "serious." In reality, any time you suffer because of the negligent or reckless actions of another Pennsylvania driver, you may have a rightful claim to seek financial compensation.

Fiery chain reaction collision on I-81 in Pa. kills two

Anyone who has driven on Interstate highways in Pennsylvania has encountered a great number of fast-moving semi-trailer trucks. Occasionally, the drivers of these "big rigs" cannot able to control their vehicles, and the result can be a catastrophic truck crash. This unhappy scenario played out on May 25, 2017 on I-81 near the Frackville exit.

Traffic was slowing as it approached a construction zone on the highway. The driver of an International tractor-trailer failed to reduce his speed and crashed into the back end of a Nissan Rogue SUV. Both vehicles became instantly engulfed in flames. The Nissan was then pushed into the rear of a Dodge RAM pickup, and this truck then collided with the rear portion of another tractor-trailer.

What is comparative negligence in Pennsylvania?

Most people in Pennsylvania understand that a person is legally liable for an injury or death caused by his negligence, or failure to use due care. How does the law treat a case where more than one person is at fault? Before World War II, most state laws said that a person whose negligence, no matter how slight the degree of fault, contributed to the mishap, could not maintain a lawsuit for damages. In other words, a person who may have been only one percent at fault in a car accident was totally barred from seeking damages from a person who may have been 99 percent at fault.

Realizing the harshness and unfairness of this rule, known as contributory negligence, states began to modify their laws by allowing juries to allocate fault among all people at fault. In 1976, Pennsylvania abolished the old doctrine of contributory negligence and adopted what is now called "comparative negligence."

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