pennsylvanias economy and medical malpractice caps

In an opinion piece last month, Lawrence J. McQuillan opined that Pennsylvania might add tens of thousands of jobs to its economy if the state would just limit medical malpractice liability for doctors and hospitals. The director of business and economic studies at the Pacific Research Institute in California, McQuillan claimed that Pennsylvania “practiced the rule of lawyers, not the rule of law” and that the state’s lawsuit-happy climate was a deterrent to businesses considering planting roots there.

These businesses, he claimed, would be too scared of personal injury lawsuits to consider seriously moving or expanding operations into Pennsylvania.

However, Pennsylvania boasts close to 50 Fortune 500 companies and Pittsburgh, alone, is home to eight. With a gross state product (GSP) of $553.3 billion in 2008, Pennsylvania ranked 6th in the country, out-producing 44 fellow states.

Unemployment is high in Pennsylvania, as it is in most states, but to assume that medical malpractice lawsuits are a significant driver of economic hardships seems a bit hasty.

Indeed, it seems that medical malpractice lawsuits are rarely frivolous, if ever, and the patients who benefit from them often put most their settlements towards future healthcare and rehabilitation.

Are medical malpractice lawyers paid for their work on these cases?

The short answer is “yes.”

A complicated medical malpractice can take extensive research, consultation, and months of dedicated work to pull together. Then, it may take even longer to pursue the lawsuit in court. Many lawyers work on a contingency basis, meaning if a case is not successful, no one is paid.

It’s popular to point to large medical malpractice verdicts and call them excessive, but very rarely does one see stories about the cases that are not successful – the hundreds of hours spent on them and the thousands of dollars now coming out of an injured patient’s own funds.

Malpractice lawsuits serve as a way to hold hospitals and doctors responsible if they are negligent or careless in the treatment of patients. Who can stand in front of a once-healthy individual, now facing a lifetime of pain and suffering, and tell them that they do not deserve atonement?

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