This article spotlights a few Pennsylvania laws that could affect a medical malpractice case, including the time limits for bringing such claims in the state's civil court system. We'll also look at the rules that govern payment of damages as well as procedural requirements regarding expert testimony in Pennsylvania medical malpractice cases.
Time Limits on Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Claims
Pennsylvania's statute of limitations limits the amount of time an injured patient has to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in court. In Pennsylvania, the time to file such a claim expires two years after the date the plaintiff knows or reasonably should know all of the following:
- an injury has occurred
- the conduct that caused the injury, and
- the relationship between the injury and the conduct that caused it.
A person who is injured by medical neligence while still a child has seven years from the date of his or her 20th birthday to bring a case to court, regardless of the date on which the injury actually occurred.
Damage Caps in Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Cases
Like many states, Pennsylvania does limit damages in medical malpractice cases, but the cap is very specific. Pennsylvania does not limit either economic or non-economic damages, which are the two main categories of compensation that an injured patient can receive.
In Pennsylvania, the only limits on awards in medical malpractice cases apply to "punitive damages," which are damages imposed as punishment for particularly outrageous or dangerous behavior. Pennsylvania caps punitive damages in medical malpractice cases at two times the amount of actual damages in the case.
Expert Requirements in Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Cases
- there is a reasonable probability the defendant breached the standard of care,
- the defendant was responsible for the person who breached the standard of care, and/or
- expert testimony is not needed to pursue the claim.
- be a physician who is actively engaged in practicing or teaching, and who is experienced in the field at issue,
- of the same or a similar specialty as the defendant, and
- board certified, if board certification is available and the defendant is board-certified.