Pennsylvania Personal Injury Caps On Pain And Suffering Awards

The other day, I read a story about someone in Congress screaming that we ought to pass a law placing caps on medical malpractice lawsuits. This argument has gone on in Washington for the past 25 years. “Caps” would limit awards for pain and suffering to $250,000. From a legal liability perspective on personal injury settlements – this capped amount on pain and suffering awards often seems inappropriately small considering the amount of negligence involved.

The headline made me think of a client I represented years ago. The client was recovering in the hospital from pneumonia. During the evening hours, she felt excruciating pain in her left calf, followed by numbness. The house doctor came in and made a diagnosis of “possible arterial occlusion,” but no medical tests were done that night. When the tests were finally performed the next day, the clot was too well solidified to be broken up, and the client underwent an above-the-knee amputation.

The client was not working and, therefore, there was no wage loss. The medical bills did not have to be paid back so we could not include them in our settlement demand.

Pennsylvania Personal Injury Settlement

The case was settled for $600,000. The client died from an unrelated disease a year after the amputation. If not, the settlement for pain and suffering would have been higher.

If personal injury “caps” had been passed, either in Washington or Harrisburg, the settlement would have been limited to $250,000. As a Pennsylvania law firm negotiating and going to trial on behalf of victims of gross personal injury negligence, we strongly feel that the pain and suffering award caps are not something to support in legislation.

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