A report from the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts has noted a decrease from 1,675 medical malpractice cases filed in the Pennsylvania courts in 2011 to 1,508 medical malpractice cases filed in 2012, representing a 10% decrease from 2011 to 2012. Before Pennsylvania began implementing medical malpractice tort reforms in 2003, there were an average of 2,733 medical malpractice cases filed in Pennsylvania from 2000 to 2002.
Medical malpractice tort reforms began in Pennsylvania in 2003, when Pennsylvania began requiring medical malpractice plaintiffs to file a certificate of merit from a qualified medical expert, attesting to a deviation from the acceptable standard of care by the medical malpractice defendant. Later, Pennsylvania instituted the requirement that medical malpractice lawsuits be filed in the county in Pennsylvania where the medical malpractice occurred.
In 2012, there were 27 medical malpractice jury verdicts in Pennsylvania (down from an average of greater than 100 medical malpractice jury verdicts from 2000 through 2003), with fourteen of the verdicts in favor of the medical malpractice defendants. Of the verdicts in favor of the medical malpractice plaintiffs, five were in an amount less than $500,000.00 and two were in excess of $10 million.
We support legitimate medical malpractice tort reform efforts that lead to decreases in the number of medical malpractice cases filed in Pennsylvania and in other U.S. states, but only if those efforts do not burden or penalize victims of medical malpractice. Harming medical malpractice victims twice – the first time by the medical negligence causing injuries to innocent victims of medical malpractice and the second time by laws that unnecessarily limit or constrain medical malpractice claims from being filed and litigated simply to reduce the number of medical malpractice claims filed (for instance, draconian laws that limit medical malpractice victims from receiving full and fair compensation for their losses) – do not serve the interests of justice, do not satisfy our collective sense of fairness, and do not comport with our historical and deeply held conviction to the premise that people should be held fully accountable for their wrongdoings that unnecessarily cause harm to others.
It is not a legitimate goal of medical malpractice tort reform efforts if they are simply designed to decrease the number of medical malpractice claims filed or to place an arbitrary cap (limit) on the amount of damages that permanently and severely injured victims of medical malpractice may receive from the responsible medical malpractice wrongdoers. Does it offend your sense of justice when a formerly healthy and active 15-year-old is suddenly burdened by having to live the rest of his shortened life in a wheelchair, unable to move his legs, unable to go to the bathroom without a catheter, and unable to feed himself due solely to the medical negligence of a physician who negligently failed to diagnose and timely treat obvious signs of a serious medical condition that could be easily treated and cured if it had been timely diagnosed?
If the reduction in the number of medical malpractice cases filed in state courts is due to arbitrary restrictions placed on filing medical malpractice cases, then the increasing number of hurdles (and the increasing height of the hurdles) that medical malpractice victims must overcome in order to achieve justice and obtain fair and adequate compensation for their injuries and losses is an illegitimate exercise of legislative reach.
If you or a loved one have been injured due to medical malpractice in the United States, you should promptly seek the legal advice from a local medical malpractice attorney in your state who may be able to investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and file a medical malpractice case on your behalf, if appropriate.
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