This year, there has been an increase in medical malpractice lawsuits filed in Philadelphia. However, other types of personal injury legal filings have still not recovered from the decline caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Data sourced from the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas shows there could be 10 percent fewer filings involving motor vehicle accidents and premises liability compared to before the pandemic. Last year, there were 18 percent fewer vehicle accident filings and 25 percent fewer premises liability filings.
The reduction in legal filings could continue. Schmidt Kramer partner Scott Cooper said part of the reason for reduced filings is that fewer people are on the road. Despite a return to normalcy in some areas, there are still less people commuting to work. There are also a lot of people forgoing owning cars.
Cooper doubts we will see motor vehicle filings increase to the levels seen before the pandemic.
There are benefits to having fewer cases. Philadelphia Administrative Judge Lisette Shirdan-Harris says a long-term decline in personal injury filings could allow resources to be devoted to increases in other types of legal filings, such as medical malpractice and mass torts.
Medical malpractice filings spiked because of a change with venue rules, but this spike is probably only temporary. Medical malpractice filings in March are just 10 percent above the monthly average from before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the 52 percent increase over the yearly average from before the pandemic, there would only be an increase of 215 cases. The projection for motor vehicle and premises liability suits represents a reduction of 1,400 cases compared to before the pandemic.
Despite the decline in cases, Cooper expects courts to continue to be busy. He says they are well-equipped to deal with any other changes that occur.
Cooper says there are fewer cases going to trial because there has been an increase in the use of alternative dispute resolution to resolve cases.