Pennsylvania Strikes Down Damage Caps in Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuits
Earlier this month, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted down extending the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Act (MCARE) to nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the state.
The MCARE Act currently caps punitive damages against doctors, hospitals, and healthcare providers to 200% of the amount awarded for compensatory damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. The latest version of the bill sought to limit punitive damages against nursing homes to 250%.
Punitive damages are damages exceeding simple compensation and awarded to punish the defendant for causing injury. Punitive damages are also intended to deter the likelihood of similar incidents from occurring in the future.
In September, the bill passed the House Judiciary Committee in a 14-13 vote, but the bill was defeated by a final vote of the House 103-91.
Those who supported the bill say that overturning the extension of the MCARE act leaves nursing homes in a constant state of fear. Many say that nursing homes choose to settle lawsuits instead of taking them to court because they are afraid of being hit with punitive damages. Nursing homes who carry liability insurance typically do not have allowances for punitive damages in lawsuits.
However, others feel that regardless of a nursing home’s reason to settle, those who have done nothing wrong should not be afraid of letting the courts render a verdict.
Fighting for Victims of Abuse & Neglect
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