In 2013, the amount paid out in medical malpractice lawsuits increased by $168 million, or 4.7 percent, nationwide. It was the first increase in 10 years. Of these, 96 percent of payments came by settlement, not a jury verdict.
These figures come from an analysis by Diederich Healthcare. The company reviewed 2013 medical malpractice payouts as recorded by the National Practitioner Data Bank. Other highlights:
- Overall, $3.7 billion was paid to medical malpractice plaintiffs in the U.S. in 2013.
- New York and Pennsylvania each saw more than $300 million paid out in medical malpractice payments last year, the most in the country. Massachusetts was among several states in the next category, with defendants paying out between $100-$300 million overall.
- Despite being in the highest category, New York's medical malpractice payouts decreased by $73 million. Payments in 38 other states rose compared to 2012. In Massachusetts, injured plaintiffs received $7 million less overall.
- The average payment for cases that went to judgment in 2013 decreased by more than $200,000. Only 3 percent of cases were decided by judgment.
The figures counter claims made by insurers and doctors' groups that there is a crisis caused by malpractice claims. Nevertheless, many states have increased the burden for plaintiffs who wish to file medical malpractice claims.
Roadblocks include medical malpractice tribunals which determine if a case has merit to proceed. In many states, these tribunals are full evidentiary hearings which are required even before suit is filed.
Many states have also enacted "I'm sorry" laws which allow doctors and medical providers to apologize without fear of making a statement which can be used against them in court.
In Massachusetts, legislation which passed in 2012 created a 182-day "cooling off" period to give both sides a chance to reach a settlement. There is no data available to assess whether the new program has had any appreciable effect on the handling of cases.
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The Boston medical malpractice attorneys at Breakstone, White & Gluck have over 100 years combined experience handling cases involving surgical malpractice, medical errors, altered medical records and birth injuries. If you have been injured, it is important to learn your rights. For a free legal consultation, contact us at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
Learn more about our medical malpractice case results.
Failure to treat an infant with febrile seizures.
Anesthesia complications resulting in a severe infant brain injury.