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Are there damage caps on medical malpractice cases?

Thankfully for victims of negligent doctors and other medical professionals, Pennsylvania does not have a damages cap on medical malpractice cases in the vast majority of situations. This means if a resident of Pittsburgh gets hurt because of a doctor’s errors or omissions, then, ultimately, the jury decides how much the case is worth, at least with respect to damages other than “punitive damages.”

The better news is that in Pennsylvania, and at least according to some with knowledge of the law, the state constitution would likely prevent lawmakers from ever imposing a cap, no matter how hard physicians and insurance companies lobby for one.

One provision of the Pennsylvania Constitution specifically states that, except for workers’ compensation cases, the Pennsylvania General Assembly cannot cap damages in any type of personal injury cases.

Nevertheless, the state’s courts have carved out an exception to this rule, as the state has a law on the books that limits a tort payout by a local government to $500,000 in certain cases. The court’s reasoning was that there was a difference between the government and private individuals, including doctors, who cause injuries through negligence.

What this means is that it is possible at some point that state and local medical care facilities will be protected by a damages cap on medical malpractice cases. In the mean time, though, the only limitation that an injured Pittsburgh patient needs to worry about is the amount of money a jury is willing to award. Of course, it is still necessary to document one’s injuries and prove the extent of them following a malpractice case, and doing this can be complicated.