Pennsylvania And Tort Reform, Part 1

The attorneys at Powell Law carry on the work of a law firm that spans generations and has represented thousands of Pennsylvanians. Our attorneys have witnessed and made history over 113 years of practicing law. Powell Law first opened its doors in the early part of the 20th century in 1906.

Almost 100 years later, our firm has continued to help Pennsylvanians with medical malpractice claims overcome aspects of tort reform that may limit their claims in some way, such as limited venue choices.

In 2002, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania instituted significant tort reform with the enactment of the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Act (MCARE). Many in the medical industry favored tort reform because they believed that medical malpractice jury awards and high malpractice insurance premiums were forcing doctors to leave Pennsylvania. They believe that this void of medical professionals eventually impaired the rights of plaintiffs to pursue medical malpractice claims.

MCARE changed many aspects of medical malpractice litigation. It lowered the limits of required insurance coverage limits for primary care physicians and specialists. The legislation used assessments on physicians and percentages of punitive damages awards to establish a fund for damage awards that supplemented physicians’ traditional medical malpractice insurance. MCARE also affected certain other recoveries for personal injury cases while placing caps on punitive damages.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court enacted procedural rules with the passing of MCARE, including the requirement that a plaintiff must obtain a certificate of merit before proceeding with a medical malpractice claim. A certificate of merit’s intended purpose is to ensure the legitimacy of a medical malpractice case.

Another procedural change initiated by MCARE was the implementation of provisions that ended venue shopping by requiring that personal injury plaintiffs file their claims in the county where the malpractice occurred. Venue shopping allows plaintiffs to file their case in a location of their choice, typically where higher jury awards are common.

Venue shopping was blamed in Pennsylvania for maximizing jury awards and settlements, thus significantly raising malpractice insurance premiums and making Pennsylvania an unattractive place to practice medicine because of the costs and risks associated with professional liability.

More on this in the next installment of “Pennsylvania & Tort Reform, Part 2.” Plaintiffs may level the playing field with legal representation that is equally experienced filing, litigating, and settling cases involving medical malpractice, like Powell Law. With our experience, we have unique abilities to help our clients in legal matters involving medical malpractice that may involve serious life-changing consequences. Powell Law’s unsurpassed qualifications make it an obvious choice for representation in all types of personal injury and medical malpractice cases in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and surrounding areas. Contact Powell Law at call (570) 961-0777. The consultation is FREE.

Pennsylvania And Tort Reform, Part 1

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