February 1, 2013

162017_132140396847214_292624_nMyth: State Courts Are Flooded With Medical Malpractice Cases

Research into medical malpractice lawsuits filed in U.S. state courts in 2008 for 12 U.S. states found that medical malpractice cases represented less than 2% of all civil cases filed. In only two states, New York and New Jersey, were there more than 1,000 medical malpractice cases filed. It was also found that in the 7 U.S. states that were selected for research into medical malpractice cases filed from 1999 to 2008, the number of medical malpractice cases filed in six of those states fell between 22% and 45% (New York medical malpractice case filings remained nearly level during the same period).

Myth: Medical Malpractice Plaintiffs Win Their Cases More Often Than Other Civil Plaintiffs

For medical malpractice trials and other personal injury trials in U.S. state courts during 2005, medical malpractice plaintiffs won their cases only 23% of the time while all other personal injury trials were won by the plaintiffs in 59% of the cases. The median length of medical malpractice trials was 5 days whereas the median length of trial for other personal injury cases was 2 days.

Myth: Juries Award Medical Malpractice Plaintiffs Too Much Money  

Research has shown that for 2005, the primary injuries claimed in medical malpractice cases filed in U.S state courts were much more severe than the primary injuries alleged in other personal injury cases. In 22% of the medical malpractice cases, death was the primary injury (compared to 3% in other personal injury cases). Paralysis, cancer, and other serious injuries were more often claimed in medical malpractice cases than in other personal injury cases. In personal injury cases other than medical malpractice claims, neck and back injuries were claimed in 29% of the cases (the most common injuries claimed in non-medical malpractice personal injury cases).

The median amount awarded to successful medical malpractice plaintiffs was $400,000 whereas the median award to other successful personal injury plaintiffs was $19,840. There are two main explanations for the large difference in awards in medical malpractice cases compared to other personal injury cases: 1. verdicts in medical malpractice cases are generally proportionate to the severity of the injuries sustained by the plaintiffs, which are often much greater in medical malpractice cases as compared to other types of personal injury cases and 2. because medical malpractice cases cost much more to litigate when compared to other personal injury cases, only the most severely injured medical malpractice plaintiffs whose injuries and losses are very great typically file medical malpractice cases in court while other personal injury cases with less seriously injured plaintiffs routinely are filed in court because the costs to litigate those cases are relatively minor.

Notably, the median award for death in medical malpractice cases was 50% less than the median award for death claims in other personal injury cases.

Myth: The U.S. Is Experiencing A Medical Malpractice Litigation Crisis

More people die as a result of medical malpractice in the United States each year (between 44,000 and 98,000, according to a 1999 estimate by the Institute of Medicine) than as a result of motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer, or AIDS; yet the number of motor tort cases filed in all U.S. states range from 7 to 38 times the number of medical malpractice cases filed.

Source: National Center For State Courts,  Court Statistics Project, Volume 18, Number 1, April 2011, “Medical Malpractice Litigation In State Courts”

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of medical negligence (a medical error or a medical mistake), it is important to promptly seek the advice of a local medical malpractice attorney regarding your possible medical malpractice claim.

Click here to visit our website to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may be willing to investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and file a medical malpractice claim on your behalf, if appropriate, or telephone us toll-free at 800-295-3959.

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