Forbes estimates that about 17,000 medical malpractice lawsuits are filed each year. The majority of the claims are against doctors practicing in a high-risk specialty, though 3 out of 4 doctors in a low-risk specialty will face a malpractice claim at some point during their entire career.
There are many misconceptions involving malpractice. A general assumption that people who sue their doctors are only in it for the money. These are five of the things you never knew about medical malpractice.
#5 – Malpractice Cases With a Positive Verdict Often End Up With Reduced Awards
In a study of 198 cases where the jury awarded $1 million or more, only 1 out of 4 plaintiffs actually received the full award. Many were reduced by judges or in appeals by an average of 57%. Additional studies were done and found that 44% of malpractice cases in New York, 25% in California, and 20% in Florida were lowered after the verdict.
#4 – Malpractice Cases Can Take Years
If you talk to the medical professional and don’t get the treatment or response you feel is fair, talking to an attorney is your next step. The attorney will look at your medical records and complaint and determined if you have a valid complaint. If you do, the attorney looks for a medical expert who has the necessary expertise to be a witness.
Negotiations may occur with the medical professional or practice at this point. If not, the lawsuit is filed and discovery begins. As arguments are offered and evidence is revealed, the plaintiff’s and defendant’s lawyers may start negotiations to reach a settlement. If not, the case goes to trial.
According to a 2018 article from the American Association for Physician Leadership, it takes about 16 to 17 months to file a lawsuit and then 27 to 28 months to reach a verdict or settlement. It’s can be a long, arduous process.
#3 – Only 13% of Patients Who Experienced Malpractice Actually Filed a Claim
An Emory University law professor took a look at malpractice victims in 2014. She found that 95% of them had a hard time finding attorneys willing to take their case. People don’t understand their rights when a doctor, pharmacist, or nurse makes a mistake or is negligent. They don’t understand that they can file a claim months after the improper care.
#2 – A Maximum of 1% of all Malpractice Victims End Up Winning Their Case
In a study released by Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, 20 years of malpractice results found that medical professionals win 80 to 90% of cases with weak evidence of malpractice, 70% of cases with reasonable evidence of malpractice, and 50% of cases with strong evidence of malpractice.
Even when the evidence against the medical professional is strong, the victims don’t often win a favorable verdict. In fact, the New York Law School’s Center for Justice & Democracy reports that no more than 1% of malpractice victims will win a favorable verdict.
#1 – Studies Find That Very Few Malpractice Claims Meet the Definition for Being Frivolous
In 2006, Harvard released a study regarding medical malpractice claims. Of the 1,452 claims, more than 90% had a clear physical injury resulting from mistreatment, negligence, or mistake. Of those claims, 8 out of 10 cases showed severe injuries resulting in disability or death. Only 0.4% of medical malpractice claims didn’t show evidence of an injury related to treatment.
In National Center for State Courts’ 2017 data, only 4.04% of all civil and court cases involved medical malpractice. These cases are not in the majority.
An Expert Can Help You Understand Your Rights
Don’t let the media or statistics keep you from seeking justice. If you or a loved one has been harmed by medical malpractice, don’t give up hope of winning your case. Instead, be selective when it comes to choosing a personal injury attorney. Look for a law firm that specializes and has a strong track record for winning verdicts or settlements in malpractice cases.
Trial Lawyers for Justice specialize in medical malpractice. TL4J’s attorneys helped a family win more than $74 million after an infant was injured during birth. Other malpractice victims won $3.7 million and $16.4 million in malpractice verdicts and settlements. That’s just a small number of the clients TL4J has helped. You could be next.