CATASTROPHE WAITING TO HAPPEN
Our Administrative Office Of Pennsylvania Courts just reported that malpractice suits are down 10% from last year to 1508 from 1675 in 2011. In Philadelphia, our State's largest venue for malpractice suits, the number of cases was 389, the second lowest in a decade. Why? In 2002, the Legislature pased the MCARE Act which changed the landscape of many issues, particularly expert opinion evidence and damages. The Supreme Court also promulgated a number of rules, including a venue rule that requires a malpractice suit to be brought in the county where the event occurred and a Certificate of Merit rule designed to assure physician based probable cause to initiate a case. The trend as a result of the "reforms" has shown a statewide drop in cases without more drastice measures such as capping damages. Doctors are not leaving the State, specialities are covered, but errors continue at an unacceptable rate. And, with all the reform and resultant reduction in the number of lawsuits, premiums have not gone down as the carriers enjoy record profit. Truth: Only 1 in 5 medical malpractice cases pay so lawyers are only bringing meritorious cases with causally related damages that warrant the long term costly commitment to litigation. Truth: About 7.5% of doctors have a claim filed against them each year with fewer than 2% of doctors each year subject to a successful claim where an insurer had to pay a settlement or court judgment. Truth: The sum of medical malpractice payment made on behalf of doctors is only about 0.12% of total U.S. healthcare costs; the total cost of medical liability insurance is only about 0.36% of total healthcare costs. It's long overdue that Doctors and Hospitals unite against the carriers, government and industry that deny them fair reimbursement, that turn their offices into billing departments requiring computerized physician-patient records that are destroying the communication needed for proper differential diagnosis and treatment. The problem is not with trial lawyers or the American tort system. It is time to stand up or there willl some day be a nationalized medical standard of care and remedial system to address error where patient rights and safety are lost and the profession of medicine is reduced to systematic practices set by the government and industry.
In recent years, distracted driving has been the focal point of safe driving campaigns. From United States Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's distracted driving campaign to state laws from coast to coast, distracted driving laws banning texting and driving have taken effect with the goal of increasing safety on the roads.
Summer is when many people do most of their driving. Whether it is a family vacation across the country or simply a weekend road trip, highways are filled with people off to their next destination. Unfortunately, more vehicles on the road will increase the potential for accidents, especially for teen drivers.
October was a dangerous month for motorists on Interstate 78, and local law enforcement intends to do something about it.
In September, lawyers from Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg and Gifford, P.C., discussed legal topics related to current events and community organizations. Family law attorney Jennifer Riley invited community guests Harriet Hennigan and Claire Day of the Alzheimer's Association of Delaware Valley to discuss issues for people who have Alzheimer's disease and their family members. Ms. Hennigan and Ms. Day discussed signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's, as well as caregiver resources and tools for communication. Several Memory Walks will be coming up in October and November, including Philadelphia's Memory Walk on November 14.
The death of a child is unthinkable and unnatural for any parent. No sum of money can ever serve as a substitute for the tragic void from such a profound emotional and psychological loss. Yet, under our American system of justice, Wrongful Death and Survival claims are designed to compensate one's immediate family and estate for the noneconomic and economic losses suffered.
I have been doing product liability cases since 1985. The thing to understand about a defective product case is that the product is on trial, not human conduct. Pennsylvania follows the Restatement (Second) of Torts, Section 402A. Under Pennsylvania Law, someone who sells any product in a defective condition unreasonably dangerous to the user or consumer or to his or her property is subject to liability for physical harm caused to the ultimate user or consumer, or to his property, if the seller is engaged in the business of selling such a product, and the product is expected to and does reach the user or consumer without a substantial change in the condition in which it is sold. This is also known as strict liability.