Are medical malpractice cases on the rise?

Despite all of the negative attention that medical malpractice cases seem to generate, the number of medical malpractice cases in the U.S. make up a very small percentage of the total number of personal injury cases litigated nationwide. In fact, results from a recent study conducted by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, which is affiliated with the Harvard School of Medicine, have shown that the number of medical malpractice cases that have resulted in claims paid out by physicians has substantially decreased over the past twenty years. 

However, the payout amounts received from medical malpractice cases that have resulted in successful outcomes for plaintiffs, when adjusted for inflation, have actually increased over that same twenty year period.

The researchers found that, over the twenty-two year time period of the study, the overall rate of paid medical malpractice claims by all U.S. physicians declined by 55.7 percent, but the average amount of monetary compensation that was paid out increased by 23.3 percent, after adjusting for inflation. The mean compensation amount was $329,565. In addition, payments exceeding $1 million also increased during the time period of the study.

So, what do these trends mean for medical malpractice cases going forward in the future?

What this means for your case

While the BY Hospital study did not theorize as to the precise causes for the drop in successful malpractice claims, there is now an assumption that these types of cases have become more difficult to win. However, due to the fact that the average payout has increased by 23.3.%, plaintiffs with strong cases will often end up winning larger amounts of monetary compensation either at trial or as offers at settlement negotiations.

There is another factor to consider when deciding to pursue a claim for medical malpractice. According to the lead author in the Brigham-Young study, Dr. Adam Schaffer, while there was an overall decrease in the amount of paid claims across all medical specialties, the magnitude of the decline varies by the physician’s specialty. Neurosurgery had the highest mean payment of claims vs. dermatology having the lowest average payout.

In light of the information that came out of the Brigham-Young study, hiring the best medical malpractice attorney in your area is crucial to the success of medical malpractice cases.

Building your case

Considering suing for medical malpractice? Please realize that these cases are much more complicated than other personal injury cases. Building your case means being able to prove the 4D’s of medical negligence: Duty, Deviation, Direct Cause, and Damages.

To be successful at proving negligence, we’ll need to provide documentation supporting your claim as well as testimony from an expert witness to testify that the defendant’s conduct fell beneath the standard of care expected in his or her medical field.

The Law Offices of Scott S. Harris, specializing in medical malpractice in California, have been defending victims of medical malpractice for over 30 years. We work with experts in a variety of areas to address the many medical and technical issues that are involved in these types of cases.