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    Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Medical Malpractice Victims (Oct. 31, 2019 Court Case)

    by | Nov 5, 2019 | Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Law

    Cases accepted across Pennsylvania, including Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, and Philadelphia County. Call for a FREE consultation. (610) 825-0500

    Last week, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down an important section of Pennsylvania medical malpractice law that puts a time limit on a patient’s right to sue a medical provider for medical malpractice. Download a PDF of Yanakos v. UPMC (Pennsylvania Supreme Court, October 31, 2019).

    That law, the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Act (Act) § 1303.513, outlines the time limits imposed on all medical malpractice lawsuits in Pennsylvania. The Court held that the maximum time limit indicated in subsection (a), 7 years from the date of the incident of medical malpractice, is unconstitutional. The decision gives more time to plaintiffs to file medical malpractice lawsuits in PA. 

    In the Yanakos case, a family (mom, dad and son) filed a medical malpractice action against a Pittsburgh hospital and doctors for failing to inform the patients (mom and son) about the son’s lab test showing that he had a genetic condition affecting his liver. After the lab test, a portion of the son’s liver was transplanted into his mom. Over 12 years later, the family brought their lawsuit, having discovered that the son had the genetic condition which, due to the liver transplant, caused the mom to have the condition. The family lost their case at the trial court and intermediate appellate level. Both courts applied Section 1303.513(a) and held that the 7 year time limit barred the case. The PA Supreme Court overruled the lower courts, held that the law is unconstitutional and found in favor of the family.

    The Yanakos case is another pro-plaintiff or pro-patient decision in Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawsuits. Recent court cases have been decided in favor of giving patients more time to file lawsuits. See more about statute of limitations laws in medical malpractice cases in PA.

    Pennsylvania’s Medical Malpractice Time Limit Laws Explained

    Pennsylvania law imposes time limits on a person’s right to file a lawsuit for an injury. Typically, there’s a 2 year time limit on personal injury cases, such as car accident lawsuits or product injury lawsuits. However, medical malpractice lawsuits are treated differently, vis-à-vis the Act, specifically, Section 1303.513. Under this law, there are essentially 4 time limits or statute of limitations periods that apply in cases of medical or hospital malpractice.

    Time Limit of 7 Years (Now Unconstitutional Under Yanakos)

    Under subsection (a), which is the law at issue in the Yanakos case, there’s a maximum time limit of 7 years applied to all medical malpractice lawsuits filed in Pennsylvania. Here’s an example of this law at play. A Pennsylvania woman who is misdiagnosed in 2010 doesn’t uncover the misdiagnosis until 2018. The 7 year time limit would bar her claim against her doctor. After the Yanakos case, the 7 year time limit wouldn’t apply and instead, the patient would have two years from the date she discovered the misdiagnosis (i.e., two years from 2018).

    Wrongful Death & Survival Actions

    Under subsection (d), wrongful death and survival actions must be brought within 2 years of the date of death, not the date of the incident of medical malpractice. Read more about Pennsylvania medical malpractice law and wrongful death/survival actions.

    Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Law Firm

    Our law firm concentrates on complex medical malpractice cases in Pennsylvania including Philadelphia, Delaware and Montgomery counties. Since 2016, the firm has been recognized as a Best Law Firm by U.S. News & World Report in the area of medical malpractice. We’ve gone up against some of the largest hospitals in Pennsylvania and won millions of dollars for our clients. Call us for a free consultation at (610) 825-0500.

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    Cases Also Accepted Across Pennsylvania

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    Chestnut Hill Hospital

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    Montgomery County

    Abington Hospital (Abington, Lansdale)

    Bryn Mawr Hospital (Bryn Mawr)

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    Holy Redeemer Hospital (Meadowbrook)

    Lankenau Hospital (Wynnewood)

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