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PA Medical Malpractice Cases Hit 14 Year Low

The Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC) has recently reported that medical malpractice filings in Pennsylvania have reached a 14 year low. In large part this comes from two changes in the law during this period of time.

070810-N-8848W-028  PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 10, 2007) - Lt. Cmdr. Angela Powell, an otolaryngologist assisted by Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Daniel Vogel a surgical technician, performs surgery aboard the Military Sealift Command (MSC) hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20). Comfort is on a four-month humanitarian deployment to Latin America and the Caribbean providing medical treatment to patients in a dozen countries. U.S. Navy photo by Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Jean A. Wertman (RELEASED)

The first change required attorneys representing medical malpractice victims to obtain from a medical expert a “certificate of merit.” This requires that with the filing of a lawsuit the plaintiff must have a written opinion from a medical doctor prepared to testify that the medical procedures in a case fall below acceptable medical standards.

A second change in the law requires medical malpractice lawsuits to be brought only in the county where the cause of action, that is, the alleged medical negligence, took place. Before that change in the law, plaintiffs could choose to file their lawsuit in a county which they perceived to have more favorable juries, so long as the defendant doctor or hospital did business in the favorable county.

In addition, the data released by the AOPC also shows more than 81 percent of the medical malpractice verdicts in 2014 were for the defense. Lawyers for plaintiffs in medical malpractice suits pay upfront costs and charge a contingency fee if successful at the end of the case. Bringing a medical malpractice suit can cost well in excess of $250,000. It is unlikely that a plaintiff’s attorney will be willing to spend that kind of money as well as 500 hours or more of their life for a case that has little chance of winning, or where the damages and potential verdict would be relatively low.

These changes in Pennsylvania law have been quite beneficial for Pennsylvania doctors and hospitals, but not so beneficial for Pennsylvania consumers who are the victims of medical malpractice, and the data bear this out.

One thought on “PA Medical Malpractice Cases Hit 14 Year Low

  1. I think that it is great that medical malpractice is lower now than it ever has been in fourteen years. Still, it is extremely important for doctors to protect themselves and have a lawyer who is specialized in medical malpractice on hand in case any complaint is brought up against them. Doing so will allow them to pick the right lawyer for them so that they get the best treatment possible.

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