The Impact of Tort Reform in Pennsylvania

Many people do not know the extent to which tort reform has progressed at the state level. This page has some good information on the impact of Pennsylvania’s 2002 MCARE Act. The MCARE Act placed additional demands on medical malpractice plaintiffs. Most importantly, it required that they bring the lawsuit in the county where the malpractice occurred and it required a “certificate of merit” by a qualified physician prior to filing. The number of medical malpractice cases filed statewide from 2000 through 2014 and the percentage of defense verdicts in cases that went to trial are below:

2000: 2,632

2001: 2,659

2002: 2,904

2003: 1,712 (73% Defense verdicts in cases that went to trial from 2000 through 2003

2004: 1,819 (78.5% Defense verdicts in cases that went to trial)

2005: 1,711 (80.3% Defense verdicts in cases that went to trial)

2006: 1,702 (83% Defense verdicts in cases that went to trial)

2007: 1,640 (82.7% Defense verdicts in cases that went to trial)

2008: 1,602 (81.4% Defense verdicts in cases that went to trial)

2009: 1,532 (85.1% Defense verdicts in cases that went to trial)

2010: 1,490 (81.1% Defense verdicts in cases that went to trial)

2011: 1,675 (70.3% Defense verdicts in cases that went to trial)

2012: 1,510 (78.5% Defense verdicts in cases that went to trial)

2013: 1,560 (77.7% Defense verdicts in cases that went to trial)

2014: 1,512 (82.0% Defense verdicts in cases that went to trial)

As you can see, the number of medical malpractice cases filed today is almost half of what it was around the year 2000. My guess is that, given the headlines about large jury verdicts and the medical malpractice crises, the average person has no idea of the significant decline in cases filed or the large percentage of trials that result in defense verdicts.

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