Medical professionals have a duty of care to those they serve. Although doctors are human beings, and can thus make mistakes at times, to the best of their abilities, doctors should strive to properly diagnose and treat their patients.
Patients or the loved ones of patients who’ve lost their lives can file medical malpractice claims when medical professionals breach this duty of care. However, up until recently, certain limitations impacted where patients and surviving loved ones could file such claims in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
For about two decades, the law has required that “a medical professional liability action may be brought against a health care provider for a medical professional liability claim only in a county in which the cause of action arose.”
There’s reason to believe this law was first introduced with the specific goal of limiting the number of medical malpractice claims filed in Pennsylvania. It appears to have achieved this goal, as the rate of annual medical malpractice claims in Pennsylvania dropped sharply after the law was introduced.
However, the law has long been controversial. It’s been argued that this law offers venue protections to those in the healthcare industry that may not be offered to those in other industries.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has responded accordingly. The Court recently amended the existing law so that plaintiffs may now be permitted to file medical malpractice claims in nearly any county in Pennsylvania.
The implications of this change are significant. Unfortunately, it’s been shown that there are some counties and venues that appear to be unreasonably friendly to defendants when medical malpractice claims or lawsuits are filed. If a plaintiff was required to file their claim in such a county, the odds of them recovering the compensation for which they may genuinely be eligible could be stacked against them.
The previous law may have also limited a plaintiff’s ability to hire the right lawyers to serve their needs. If they had less flexibility in regard to choosing a venue when filing a claim or lawsuit, they would naturally also have fewer options when choosing a law firm. This could force them to enlist the help of attorneys who might lack the qualifications and experience necessary to provide them with truly effective representation.
Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court decision is likely to change this. While those whose job it is to defend healthcare professionals in medical malpractice cases might not be universally pleased with the recent changes to the law, as it’s the type of development that’s certainly favorable to plaintiffs, in general, this decision appears to be one that will allow for greater fairness in Pennsylvania medical malpractice cases moving forward.
At The Weitz Firm, LLC, our Philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys are thrilled that victims of medical error and negligence will now have more freedom to choose the right venues and the right lawyers when pursuing the compensation they deserve. If you believe you have grounds to file a claim, and you’re seeking representation, contact us online or call us at 267-587-6240 to learn more about what we can do for you.