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Pennsylvania medical malpractice case may change some awards

The Pennsylvania Superior Court recently held that in certain types of cases, unrestricted damages are allowed for an injured victim. The recent case applies to medical malpractice matters involving a failed attempt to sterilize a woman. The woman at the center of the controversy had become pregnant after seeking sterilization by a local doctor.

The case was different than others that had been heard by the court in Pennsylvania. In many failed sterilization cases, the women involved became pregnant and gave birth to healthy kids. When that occurred, the court had held the time for allowed damages was only for the pre-natal to post-natal period. The post-natal period was defined as six weeks following the birth of a healthy child.

In the new matter, the woman did not give birth to a child. In fact, after becoming pregnant, she learned that the child that she was carrying suffered severe disabilities. She made the decision to abort the pregnancy. Because she did not give birth, the Superior Court in our state found that she could be awarded unrestricted damages such as those available in many other medical malpractice matters in our locale.

In a medical malpractice case, victims of doctor negligence can be awarded damages by a jury for their suffering. Though not always available, when a person is injured by the actions of inaction of a doctor, they are able to seek awards from a jury. The jury is not restricted to an amount unless the case is one focused on an illness or action that is the subject of limits. Until recently this was the case for those who became pregnant after attempting to be sterilized. Now, those who have suffered such a pregnancy without giving birth may find that the awards from a medical malpractice claim could be subject to fewer limitations.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Pennsylvania Superior Court panel allows unrestricted damages in botched sterilization case," Ben Present, Nov. 12, 2012

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