From the last quarter of 2005 through the end of 2009, there were 2,839 closed medical malpractice claims in Connecticut. A majority of those medical malpractice claims resulted in no indemnity payments (indemnity payments are payments made to claimants) — 52% of the claims (1,463) had no indemnity payments, while the remainder, 1,376, closed with an indemnity payment. The total amount paid to claimants was $850.0 million over that period of time — an average of $617,722 per claim for those claims with an indemnity payment. The payments include amounts for both economic losses (medical bills, lost wages, etc.) and non-economic damages (pain and suffering, mental anguish, etc.). Fewer claims were reported as closed in 2009 compared to 2008 and the average indemnity payment decreased from approximately $608,000 in 2008 to $545,000 in 2009.
79% (2,242) of the medical malpractice claims involved legal expenses to defend them, which totaled $125.1 million (an average of $55,810 per claim). Of these, 50% (1,119) were for claims that did not result in indemnity payments to claimants (averaging $40,267 for legal expenses). Legal defense costs continued to rise year over year with a significant increase from an average of approximately $58,000 in 2008 to $70,000 in 2009.
Claims with indemnity payments increased 30%, from 1,060 to 1,376, during the period. More than half of all claims involving indemnity payments were for less than $200,000. Million dollar and greater claims, while only 16.4% of all claims, represent 69% of all indemnity payments (nearly $587 million).
The amount paid to claimants increased with the age of the claim. Of the 1,376 claims that closed with an indemnity payment, 173 closed within one year of being reported and had an average paid indemnity of $18,091. That average figure rose to $279,841 for 185 claims closing in their second year, and to $631,929 for 301 claims closing in their third year. The 205 claims that closed between 60 and 90 months from being reported averaged $1,145,833. Defense attorney payments also increased with the age of claim, starting with an average of $4,283 for claims that closed in their first year, and rising to $14,306 and $40,931 for claims in their second and third years, respectively. For claims closing five or more years after being reported, the average was $114,676.
Of the claims resolved in favor of the claimant, 97.6% were settled, with 93.9% settled before trial began. Of the claims resolved in favor of the defendant, 86.7% were settled, with 83.3% of those settled before trial began.
Source: Connecticut Medical Malpractice Annual Report May 2010.
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