The American Insurance Association joined other national organizations in commending the members of Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives for passing a bill (HB 1326) which would amend the commonwealth’s constitution to allow the legislature to impose limits on non-economic damages in a broad range of negligence cases, including medical malpractice.
“House members clearly understand that a healthy business environment and competitive insurance marketplace in Pennsylvania depend on a balanced and fair civil justice system. The ability to impose caps on non-economic damages will certainly help to restore balance to Pennsylvania’s legal environment,” stated R. Taylor Cosby, AIA VP-mid-Atlantic region.
The measure to amend the State’s Constitution to allow the legislature to enact laws limiting damages for pain and suffering passed by a vote of 119-76. It’s still a long way from becoming law, however. First it must be approved by the Senate, where Majority Whip Jeffrey Piccola (R-15) issued a statement supporting it (See IJ Website June 12). Then it has to be passed a second time at next year’s legislative session, and finally it must be approved by Pennsylvania voters in a referendum. The AIA said 2005 was the earliest date at which it could become law.
The legislation would have particular effect in allowing caps on damages for pain and suffering in medical malpractice cases. The State is facing a growing crisis in its healthcare system, which has been highlighted by doctors strikes and increasing pressure on health services as physicians leave the state, or decline to perform procedures they deem to be high risk.
“The escalating costs of the litigation system for medical malpractice have resulted in much higher insurance premiums and are driving insurers to cease writing this line of business in Pennsylvania,” Mr. Cosby indicated. “AIA supports the tort reform measures in HB 1326, which should help control the costs of litigation not only in medical malpractice, but all other cases as well.”
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