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Pennsylvania Strikes Down Damage Caps in Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuits
In 2018, 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. This was a major victory for nursing home residents and their families. Extending the MCARE Act to nursing homes would have hampered the legal rights of one of our most vulnerable groups, elderly residents.
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 a special type of damage awarded to injured plaintiffs. They are only allowed in cases where the negligent conduct was especially egregious, i.e., reckless conduct or conduct which shows a callous disregard for the safety and health of others. In nursing home abuse cases, this conduct often includes sexual assault, physical abuse or extreme cases of neglect.
Given that nursing home and assisted facility residents are often neglected or abused, punitive damages serve an important function–to deter the companies that own and operate nursing homes and facilities from engaging in this type of conduct in the future.
In September 2018, the bill passed the House Judiciary Committee in a 14-13 vote, but was defeated by a final vote of the House 103-91.
Those who supported the bill said that overturning the extension of the MCARE act leaves nursing homes in a constant state of fear. Many said 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 which carry liability insurance typically do not have allowances for punitive damages in lawsuits.
However, others felt 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 Elderly Victims of Abuse & Neglect
At Morris Wilson, P.C., our Pennsylvania nursing home abuse lawyers are committed to providing you with the dedicated and experienced legal representation you need. Since our founding, we have successfully recovered tens of millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for our clients, and we put the knowledge we’ve gained to use putting your case together to get you the maximum compensation possible. If you want to discuss your legal options with a member of our firm, please reach out to us today.
Call (610) 825-0500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
Page last updated: June 3, 2020
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