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Should the Rules for Malpractice Lawsuits Be Changed In Pennsylvania?

Posted on in Personal Injury

Pittsburgh medical malpractice lawyer

For nearly two-and-half centuries in Pennsylvania, medical malpractice lawsuits could be brought against doctors in any region in which the doctors practiced medicine. However, in 2003, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court changed the rule and limited the venue options to the county in which the injury occurred. The rule change was due to growing fears that plaintiffs could “venue shop,” which could potentially cause medical insurance rates to increase and lead doctors to leave the commonwealth. Since plaintiffs could file their lawsuits in any county where the physician worked, they may have chosen to pursue legal action in an area where juries were more likely to find the doctor to be at fault.

Recently, the issue was reopened when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court suggested reinstating the previous rules governing venue selection. Those who are considering taking legal action for medical malpractice may wonder whether these rules should be reverted and whether the proposed changes would benefit the citizens of Pennsylvania.

Reasons to Keep the 2003 Changes

 

The arguments for keeping the current rules about venues are much the same as the reasons for making them in the first place. It was claimed that plaintiffs were abusing the system and filing lawsuits in counties where juries usually sided against the doctor. People in favor of these rules believe that in our Common Law system, civil lawsuits should be held in the vicinity of where the injury occurred and decided by a jury of those whom the decision would most impact. They state that to return to the previous rules would cause a sharp rise in medical insurance premiums, because doctors would require higher fees to fight against supposedly frivolous lawsuits. Opponents of these rules even claim that the quality of healthcare in Pennsylvania would decrease due to a mass exodus of doctors from the state.

Arguments for Reversing the 2003 Rules 

There are two arguments in favor of reverting to the previous venue rules. The first is that prior to the 2003 change, the venue rules regarding civil lawsuits had remained unchanged for over 200 years. Second, the “crisis” which brought about the change has abated. Since the installment of the rules, there has been a noticeable decrease in medical malpractice lawsuits, and this could mean that victims of a physician’s malfeasance are not being awarded proper compensation.

 

Contact a Wexford, PA Medical Malpractice Attorney

Regardless of the rules in place governing the venues where lawsuits can be pursued, victims of medical malpractice deserve to be able to pursue justice for the wrongs done to them. Doctors must be held to the highest standards, and when they err, they should be held responsible, and their victims should be fairly compensated. If you or someone you know has suffered an injury due to medical negligence, you should contact the experienced Allegheny County personal injury lawyers at Colianni & Colianni, LLC. To schedule a free consultation, call our office at 412-943-0007.

 

Sources:

https://pennrecord.com/stories/512316479-pa-courts-won-t-turn-over-letter-that-sparked-medical-malpractice-reform-debate

https://www.mcall.com/opinion/mc-opi-medical-malpractice-venue-change-supreme-court-muschick-20190304-story.html

 

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