Civil litigation begins when an aggrieved party files the necessary paperwork with the court to initiate the legal process. In the initial paperwork the filing party alleges certain legal claims against another party or parties and specific facts that support those claims. In Pennsylvania, aggrieved parties may file lawsuits against medical professionals and medical facilities based on claims of medical malpractice.
When a doctor, hospital or other medical entity is sued for medical malpractice, it has the opportunity to respond to the claims made by the filing party. In its answer, an entity sued for medical malpractice may allege its own facts and also its own defenses to rebut the claims issued by the other party.
The defenses that a party may utilize when responding to a lawsuit based on medical malpractice will depend on the particular facts and circumstances of the case. For this reason, the defenses discussed in this post should not be interpreted as legal advice. Individuals who wish to better understand how their medical malpractice lawsuits will be answered should speak with their own personal injury counsel.
First, a responding party may claim that the filing party failed to initiate the lawsuit within the relevant statute of limitations for the medical malpractice claim. Individuals with claims based on injuries sustained due to medical negligence, doctor errors and medical mistakes must have their claims filed before the applicable statute of limitations runs out.
Second, a responding party may state that it did not commit negligence in its treatment or care of the filing party. Negligence is often the basis for medical malpractice claims and if it is not present in a case then a filing party may not be able to prove its claims.
Third, a responding party could allege that the patient's actions contributed to the harm it endured during its medical treatment. If a patient is found to have caused his or her own harm, a court may not allow the medical malpractice claim to proceed.
The discussed defenses are only a few of the possible ways that medical practitioners and facilities may respond to lawsuits based on medical malpractice. A defense may not be fatal to an injured party's claims; attorneys who practice medical malpractice and personal injury law can advise their clients of how to address the responses they receive to their litigation claims.