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Statistical Trends in Medical Malpractice Cases

10/18/2005
Source: 
Jury Verdict Research

In its 2002 comprehensive report titled: "Medical Malpractice: Verdicts, Settlements and Statistical Analysis, Jury Verdict Research details nationwide statistics regarding medical malpractice cases.

Jury Verdict Research (JVR), maintains a nationwide database of verdicts from plaintiff and defense attorneys. JVR is supplied with data from every state in the nation. JVR was founded in 1961.

JVR reports that between 1994 and 2000, the most frequently claimed injury in a medical malpractice case was death (23%), followed by brain damage (9%), genital injuries (7%), leg injuries (5%), Cancer, spinal nerve and eye injuries (each at 4%), paralysis, amputations, intestinal tract and foot injuries (each at 3%). All other injuries accounted for 3%.

JVR also reported on the probability of a plaintiff verdict for medical malpractice with regard to specific type of theories alleged. For instance, the probability of a successful plaintiff case involving an alleged diagnosis error was 37% in 2000, down from a high of 39% in 1994. Similarly, the probability of a plaintiff verdict in a negligent surgery case was reported as 48% in 2000, up from the 1999 figure of 32%. In childbirth cases, the probability of a plaintiff verdict was 38%, down from a high of 46% in 1995 and 44% and 43% respectively for the years 1998 and 1999. The lowest probability of success were claims involving an allegation of lack of informed consent. In these cases, JVR reported that plaintiffs prevailed only 26% of the time.

Another reported statistic by JVR was the probability of a plaintiff's verdict broken down by defendant type. For instance, between 1994 and 2000, hospital malpractice claims were won by plaintiffs 50% of the time as compared to only a 30% success rate for physician malpractice claims. When the case involved claims against both a hospital and a physician, plaintiffs' probability of success was 35%.

In terms of dollars recovered through settlement of medical malpractice claims, JVR reported a settlement median for physician malpractice was $375,000, and for hospital malpractice $300,000, between 1994 and 2000