An arduous campaign undertaken by the Pennsylvania Medical Society to enact tort reform in Pennsylvania, in which they claimed that medical malpractice jury awards and high malpractice insurance premiums were forcing doctors to leave the state, eventually restricted the rights of many patients to pursue meritorious claims.
In the spring of 2002, the Pennsylvania state legislature enacted a comprehensive medical malpractice bill known as the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (MCARE) Act (a link to the full text of the MCARE act is provided here; the MCARE act, like any complex legislation, should not be interpreted without the assistance of an attorney.)
This comprehensive and extremely restrictive legislation includes a section called the Statute of Repose, which places a time limit on how long a victim has to file a claim in court even if the discovery rule would otherwise apply and extend the time permitted to bring a suit. The statute of repose is applicable to all cause of action arising on our after March 20th, 2002. A link to the full text of the MCARE act is provided here (the MCARE act, like any complex legislation, should not be interpreted without the assistance of an attorney.)
The Statute of Repose prevents claims from being brought more than seven years after the occurrence of the injury. This is separate, in addition to and unrelated to the statute of limitations which imposes different time deadlines and is subject to different exceptions. So even if an injury or its cause is not discovered until long after the action or inaction creating the injury, the time available to pursue a case is limited to seven years from the date of the action or inaction.
There are several important exceptions to this seven-year Statute of Repose. In situations where a foreign object is left in the body, the statute of repose does not apply. Death or survival claims must be filed within two years of the time of death, unless the cause of death was fraudulently concealed or actively misrepresented. Finally, in cases involving injuries to minors, claims must be brought within seven years from the time of the injury, or before the minor’s twentieth birthday, whichever is later.