Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Medical malpractice settlement for $265,000

Each state has different laws governing the amount of damages available to plaintiffs in civil lawsuits. Some states limit both tangible economic damages and non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases.

Many states permit limitless actual damages but hold the line on non-economic damages - quality of life losses like pain and suffering and emotional distress. To the benefit of victims of negligent physicians, with few exceptions, Pennsylvania has outlawed all medical malpractice caps.

A West Coast family did not have the advantage of limit-free damages when they sued a health care provider for an emergency room doctor's misdiagnosis. The parents of a girl who died of pneumonia in 2012 recently agreed to a $265,000 settlement.

The parents took their daughter to a Kaiser Permanente medical center after the feverish 10-year-old girl began vomiting and developed breathing problems. The plaintiffs alleged the hospital staff performed a perfunctory exam. The child was diagnosed with a viral flu and sent home.

The daughter's condition took a turn for the worse through the night. The parents rushed the girl to a different medical facility, but doctors could not save the child. During the first emergency room visit, Kaiser doctors had not detected the girl was suffering from pneumonia.

Kaiser's settlement was less than the parents felt was due, but the amount was $15,000 higher than that state damage cap. The settlement was viewed by the plaintiffs as a "pittance" compared to the financial consequences Kaiser should have faced for failure to diagnose.

A reasonable outcome must be expected from a legal claim to make the time, effort and financial investment worthwhile for plaintiffs. Damage caps discourage medical malpractice victims from seeking rightful compensation.

Negligence case assessment comes before any legal complaint is filed. Pennsylvania malpractice attorneys understand the commitment plaintiffs must make to pursue a legal claim. An honest case evaluation ensures clients do not take wasteful actions.

Source: San Gabriel Valley Tribune, "California family settles with Kaiser over 10-year-old's death, pushes for higher cap" Jason Henry, Jan. 16, 2014

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Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.
20 Stanwix Street, Seventh Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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